06. 06. 2023
27. 06. 2023

Kristína Bukovčáková: Stomach Full of Butterflies

We cordially invite you to the opening of the exhibition Stomach Full of Butterflies by slovak painter Kristína Bukovčáková. The exhibition is curated by Šárka Koudelová.

exhibition opening: 06/06 at 6:00 p.m.
exhibition: 06/06 – 06/27/2023

In 2020, nearly 100 cities around the world have pledged to fight climate change as part of the Deadline 2020 initiative, in order to come as close as possible to the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of keeping the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The mayors of the participating cities have signed up to a call that combines acute environmental issues with social ones – because the consequences of climate change are not fair. The text of the Deadline 2020 call, not surprisingly, mentions sustainable energy sources and, of course, the planting and maintenance of urban greenery, which is a simple tool for reducing temperatures, cleaning the air and maintaining basic species diversity in the concrete monocultures of cities.

In the same year, Kristína Bukovčáková’s paintings also began to settle both thematically and formally around compositions of plants, soil, stones, flowers and fruit. The change in her painting approach, i.e. the transition from classical painting to the airbrush technique, paradoxically brought a visual and thematic heaviness to Kristína. Her originally figurative paintings full of air have become thickened with the structures of tree bark, roots, layers of soil, fruit peels or pansy flowers, reminiscent of martial ritual masks. But is it possible, in a time increasingly struggling with the consequences of climate change, to paint images full of natural elements and maintain a purely positive, celebratory or romantic attitude towards nature? Certainly not for Kristína – in her paintings, from the very beginning, fruit rots, plant offshoots struggle gruellingly to survive, drops of water seem to be the last to wet the flowers of carnivores for a long time, and pests nibble leaves into anthropomorphic shapes. It is probably symptomatic that the various moulds, rots and pests in the garden, fabricated with the help of pomology books, gardening manuals and atlases, were the imaginary heroes of her paintings at the height of the covid pandemic.

Kristína’s current paintings, thanks to her new experience with her own garden, further deepen the personification of plant details, the interspecies intermingling of life forms, and especially the anthropomorphization of symbols of devastation. The rot on a pumpkin skin has a human face, a human foot bends the stem of a lotus – a symbol of fertility and eternity, a dead leaf withers into the shape of a human hand and choking smoke comes out of a human nose. Although the pursuit of permaculture, species diversity, and concern for her own garden microcosm fills Kristína’s time to the point of competing with her time for painting, all of the pernicious human body parts in the paintings are hers. They may thus be an intuitive complain that, despite all our efforts, we cannot escape our destructive anthropocenrist position.

The most sensitive indicator of changes in the delicate balance of the biosphere are insects, whose decline may be one of the last warnings to humanity in the near future. As a result of warmer temperatures, plants and trees are flowering earlier and are thus not in the necessary symbiosis with the time when butterflies lay their eggs and metamorphose. The flowers have no one to pollinate them and the butterflies lose their natural food – the flora they depend on has already bloomed. They must therefore feed on the flowers of alternative plants, which affects their following survival and even their reproduction. A vicious circle is being created, where butterfly and flower species are declining due to human influence, and humanity itself is endangering its future. Thanks to this direct experience with the fragility of biodiversity, Kristína frames her painted microdramas in the shapes of butterfly wings, on the flapping of which the entire biotope, or rather all life on Earth, is proverbially dependent. The paintings, which are paradoxically so compelling for their toxic-stain colours, are populated by butterfly chrysalises – symbols of forced shelter from the world, but also of resilient, changeable and adaptable hope.



The exhibition is supported by State Fund of Culture of the Czech Republic, the City of Prague.