Here or Elsewhere: Roman Ondak, Hassan Sharif, Jirí Kovanda
On the occasion of Art Basel OVR: Portals
The work of Jirí Kovanda (CZ), Hassan Sharif (UAE) and Roman Ondak (SK) has challenged and re-defined the canons of art to open a conceptual space that give prominence to the breaks between art, history, identity, economy and current affairs.
Coming from different geographical regions, the artists constructed their own artistic paths in dialogue with local narratives, inscribing their work into the history of Western conceptualism and opening important spaces to question it and transform it from within.
Roman Ondak (1966, Slovakia) plays with ideas of relocation, representation, and the duplication of experience, shifting and sharpening the viewer’s attention to everyday life.
Hassan Sharif (UAE, 1951 - 2016) was a prolific cultural producer and facilitator, moving between roles as artist, educator, critic, activist, and mentor. His career as an artist began in Dubai and Sharjah in the 1970s, working as a satirical caricaturist, highlighting a rapidly changing United Arab Emirates at the dawn of its formation. With determination, Sharif began a life-long pursuit to expand the definitions of art and the role of artists.
Jirí Kovanda (1953, Czech Republic) is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary Czech art and, though he’s reluctant to catalogue his works as conceptual or political, he entered in the international European scene in the late seventies with different public actions, made in a deliberately subtle manner, avoiding any direct involvement by the public. However, despite the imperceptible and ephemeral character of these interventions, Kovanda’s aim was to approach and create reactions in his audience.
“Cheap and simple things can sometimes turn out to be important and extraordinary, while expensive objects can be invisible. […] It just depends on the situation.” Jirí Kovanda