press release

The greater part of Roman Ondák's work questions the architecture of the exhibition space, the way it functions, its limits, its construction or deconstruction. In doing this Ondák relies on the fact that we can consider the space itself as a work of art, and consequently, on our ability to apprehend the scenery's reality. Quite often this process involves moving around the various elements of the architecture, for example in 2009 at the last Venice Biennale, when he planted the vegetation from the outside gardens inside the Czech and Slovak pavilion (Loop, 2009).

The exhibition at the Villa Arson features works ranging from 1992 to 2010, which have either rarely or never been shown before or have been reconsidered according to the context of the art centre's exhibition space. Many works also play with the relation between interior and exterior spaces, such as Breath on Both Sides (2009) and Room Extension (2000), which open the exhibition. The first one is a red balloon inflated right through a hole made into a large picture window overlooking a garden. The second one is a thread drawn tight through a hole in another window, and ending up on a promontory on the other side of the same garden.

In both cases, these thematic works are meant to unsettle our perception of space in a subtle way. The following fifty or so works featured, of various shapes and scales, all play with feelings of unease by causing micro-disturbances designed to upset, to change and to delude. The title of the exhibition itself, Shaking Horizon, explicitly refers to an unstable horizon, a mirage which we think we can see, but which remains an optical illusion.

Basically, Roman Ondák questions our place within the space more than he questions the space itself. In spite of very formal elements, his work can be said to be deeply phenomenological, attempting with remarkably restricted means to define our relation to our own environment, sometimes our relation to what is in our closest proximity. This process often entails measuring the space and the visitor as one. His piece The Stray Man (2006), featured in the exhibition at the Villa Arson, can be explained in this way: the video shows a man looking inside a gallery, once again through a glass window. The man seems to be completely unconnected with what he is looking at so intently, but he keeps looking so minutely and for such a long time that in the end he becomes a part of it.

Roman Ondák is in residency at the Villa Arson from May to July 2010 with the support of the Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes.

The exhibition is organised in association with the Fondazione Galleria Civica in Trento and the Kunstverein in Salzburg. A publication will accompany the project, and will come out in 2011 by JRP Ringier.

Roman Ondák was born in 1966 in Zilina. He lives and works in Bratislava in Slovakia. Last year he represented Slovakia in the Czech and Slovak pavilion in the 53.Venice Biennale in Venice. His other solo exhibitions include projects at MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich and Kunstverein Cologne. He is represented by gb agency in Paris, Martin Janda Gallery in Vienna and Johnen Gallery in Berlin.

Roman Ondák
Shaking Horizon
Kurator: Eric Mangion