Dalibor Polivka -  Artist 

Dalibor Polivka’s work reveals a consistent, personal mythology, rich in associations with Slovak art and politics. He is a painter and graphic designer. His preferred medium of expression is the art of installation.

As a young artist, Dalibor Polivka found himself living through the last gasps of the Czechoslovak communist regime.

 If Jean-François Lyotard is correct in saying that “postmodern art presents the un-presentable,” then Polivka’s works must by definition be postmodern. But I believe he has moved beyond a sterile structuralism. With his ruins, scattered debris and fragile images, Polivka presents the absolute materiality of the void. A draftsman with a febrile hand, a trained painter, a man of the theater, Polivka the conceptual artist suffers from a surfeit  of compunction. 

He cannot imbue himself with the false sincerity and daft hope of fine artists who commit themselves to the long road of incremental evolution using every trick in the book to apply to their art a veneer of novelty.

The kinds of theoretical intricacies that Isabelle Graw unpacks in High Price, her book about the art market, are like so many arrows in the bleeding torso of his saintly self-regard. But Polivka expresses gratitude for the elite art world’s elaborate “system of filtration” that delivers only the best work for our delectation.  

In the midst of a disenchanted world, divested of every consolation, Polivka’s austere idea of art takes the side of hope. He understands that capitulation to irrationalism is the initial germ of a contagion that ultimately leads to the chaos of despotism — which must be resisted to prevent mankind from sinking back into barbarism. As an artist and a curator, he continues to enlighten gallery-goers with profoundly open-ended exhibitions that extend their reach into a future yet to be written.


~ Excerpts from Dalibor Polivka: Sketches and Installations by Rob Mintz 

THE APOSTASY - Atelier Populaire 

The picket signs, arrayed at different heights, display an interwoven montage of ideas, from the inflammatory, “OCCCA’s wine tastes like piss,” to the sublime Angelus Novus of Paul Klee, which despite the most severe, graphic simplification, retains its iconic glow, emblem of the Angel of History which Walter Benjamin famously describes as blown backwards into the future by the cataclysm of the Now. The installation mimics the format of protest art but not its limited focus, ranging from “Assez d’intoxication!” and “La Beauté est dans la Rue!” of May ’68, to a joke about object-oriented ontology and speculative realism, “aardvarks, galaxies, baseball,” echoing those lists that populate the texts of the young philosophers who are making the Left Bank fashionable once again. The name of the project, Atelier Populaire, was the name of a print shop near the Sorbonne that churned out radical posters during the student protests of May ’68....

Polivka’s UFORA is a curatorial platform promoting historical depth, while dreaming of the future of art, a future full of hybrids, as yet not quite imaginable, but capable of evoking the pleasure of critique and the critique of pleasure. Polivka’s problem is that he is so idealistic he would rather renounce art than continue giving credence to ideas about art that he denies. He fears that his production will become (to quote Joseph Kosuth) “a circularity entropically bogged down in its own institutionalization.” Nor did Polivka wish to be “passively defined by whatever uncritical frame a context provides.” For the ethically aware conceptual artist, apostasy is an easy choice.


Project text by Rob Mintz.

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Dalibor Polivka

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