May 10th – June 15th 2019
Viktor Freso: Mirroring Me
Project Mirroring Me brings a cross-section of the photographic work of the Central European intermediate artist Viktor Frešo (born 1974). Although throughout his work, the artist deals with his own self-portrait, stylization, or emblem of his own big head, for the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, he has prepared his first individual exhibition, focused on this medium of photography. We could even say that in its abbreviated version, the exhibition offers a film story of this art, programmed by cameras and focused by artists. Image by image, the artist’s personal film unfolds – from the analogue black and white grain photo to the digital pixel image of the world and its manipulation on the surface of Polaroids.
Based on the title of the exhibition, photography gives Viktor Frešo the possibility of “mirroring” his own world and self-portrait in several sequences. The first supporting line unfolding on the walls of the museum is the story of several self-portrait projects. Immediately after graduating from studies in Prague, he created a characteristic ego-art photoproject with “reverse” optics of perception called Who is The King? (2005-06). He lets Czech and Slovak celebrities in show business take his photos as a successful young man in a suit. In the next series, Polarselfie (2018), these are tiny photos – polaroid “microbes”, where he “attacks” them with felt pens – touches in, colorizes or stylizes them into a sort of abbreviated form of his own enlarged face in terms of the painting series Overhead. The Work With Model project (2008-09) presents the handwriting of the artist’s critical attitude to male dominance towards women, and by working or manipulating female models he convincingly points out this gender problem.
Frešo has been creating his collection of self-portraits since he was about 10 years old. Thus, a collage of a large number of photos of physical transformation and the elementary form of his face in the time-lapse follows the vertical. This creates a unique non-monumental “endless” column of one face and personality (Untitled, 1984-2019). The subtle vertical line also carries inside the autobiographical parameters (the artist’s height of 203 cm and the 45 photos represent his current age). This series is complemented by a cycle of analogue photographs from his youth, when as a teenager he and his friend created small stylized actions, stories of “artificial” reality, and then documented and developed them.
The second row of the Mirroring Me exhibition, passing through the center of the hall, presents photographic objects and 3D implementations from the Family Vintage series (2015-19). It is a bit humorous, a little symbolic link between the artist and his deceased ancestors. Here he appears in his “totemic and virtual” connection with his father, grandmother and grandfather (by the way, they were all artists as well). The first object is the embroidered pillow of his grandmother, complemented by photographs of his children and wife, who have never and will never even experience the grandmother. Another object is a simple roll up, on which a bit of advertising and a little ridiculously stands the massive figure of the artist wearing the small overalls of his dad, who died last year. This series of objects is smartly complemented by a family music “altar” – three LP records, where three generations of Frešo’s family – musicians comprising the grandfather, father and artist with his band – are presented. Although it is a small documentation of the family’s musical genetics, it is also a work of great historical and emotional value for the artist himself. These 3D realizations are suitably complemented by photo enlargements of his father with the mother, and the grandfather with the grandmother.
For Frešo, the camera creates a certain equivalent of a visual notebook, capturing fragments of reality and a family archive. An objective “freezing” of time, a halting of a moment acquires a strong subjective charge as time goes on, tells the story of the artist’s transformation over time, and functions as a melancholic browsing through the family album. In conclusion, we can quote Susan Sontag, the art theoretician, who says that also Frešo’s “photography is primarily a focus of personality, and only secondary to the camera”.
– An exhibition statement written by curator Vladimir Beskid