Michal Mráz

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Michal Mráz (1987) is a self-taught painter. Despite studing at the department of sculpture (studio of Prof. Meliš and Doc. Hoffstadter) at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, painting has become the main medium of his artistic expression. His earlier work focused on a microcosm of urban spaces, derelict urban areas, dark hooded figures of protagonists of a street art community who, hiding their identity just like dark knights, wander through cities leaving their personal messages in the form of tags or graffiti. In his practice Mráz cleverly mixes together the world of street culture and high art. This approach is reflected also in his technique – a combination of traditional oil and acrylic painting with stencils. His work is formally and thematically hybrid, often combining incongruous elements into one whole. His older as well as latest work is characterised by a multiple-level narration. The intensity of his paintings lies within the simultaneous impact of the whole on the eye of a viewer; that restlessly wanders from one motif to another unable to “žcease”. The restlessness, or some kind of inner uncertainty related to an impossibility to grasp (decode and understand) a seen reality oversaturated with visual noise refers to themes present in Mráz`s new series of paintings: his fascination with globalization, with society based on principles of consumerism ruled by systems controlling our knowledge as well as the life of an individual in public and private sphere alike. Furthermore, he draws inspiration from conspiracy theories, which he further mystifies and uses his own artistic modification and re-contextualization of selected visual motives to disturb the system based on the grounds of financial control. His iconography comprises of different visual components such as newspaper and magazine photographs (mainly LIFE magazine), film shots and internet. Mráz remixes and combines these motives adjusting them to his own subjective and artistic account with an ambition to provide a critical reflection of the state of society. In his paintings a criticism of current socio-economic systems, a financial crisis, as well as a crisis of moral values, is often juxtaposed with a similar moment in history – the Great Depression. Nevertheless, Mráz doesn`t intend to be a messenger of the apocalyptic visions. The existing skepticism and weakness to change, or partly rectify the status quo, is in his works balanced with positive themes such as everyday pleasures of happy families living their American dream or nature. It is the latter one that the author perceives as a catharsis, a place where a man can be purged of negativities of controlled society. Analogically to the nature of today`s reality, the complexity of the whole prevents us from capturing the big picture and we are left with only partly decoded fragments, which sometimes don`t necessarily create a meaningful, on logic based principles, narrative jigsaw. But such is the world we live in. Michal Mráz is a visual DJ remixing various motives and genres, and shifting original stories into new, often surprising contexts with endless possibilities of reading. Text by Katarína Slaninová. artist on Facebook.

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