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24 May 2019

Viktor Freso - Mirroring Me at FMOPA

Photo: Viktor Freso

Mirroring Me


May 10th – June 15th 2019

Zora Carrier, PhD, Executive Director

400 N Ashley Dr.
33602 Tampa
Florida US

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The Project 'Mirroring me' brings an overview of photographic work by the Central European cross-media artist Viktor Frešo (born 1974). Throughout his work, the artist deals with stylized self-portraiture, with the head treated as an emblem.
This exhibition is focused exclusively on the medium of photography in his work. We could say, that even in its abbreviated form, the exhibition presents the story of artist's creative history.
Images, as assembled by a camera and placed in full focus by the artist. Image after image, the artist's story unfolds. From the analogue black and white photos, to the digital and it's artistic metamorphosis on the surface of a Polaroid film.
As the title of this exhibition suggests, the medium of photography gives Viktor Frešo the ability of 'mirroring' his world and self-portraits in several sequences.
Immediately after graduating from his studies in Prague, Mr. Frešo created an original ego-art photo-project, with 'inverted' optics of perception, called 'Who is The King?' (2005-06). He lets Czech and Slovak celebrities in show business take his photo, while playfully presenting himself as a successful young man in a suit. His next series, titled 'Polarselfie' (2018), consists of tiny photos - Polaroid 'microbes', where he 'attacks' photographs with felt pens – alters and stylizes them into sort of a visual gesture of his own enlarged face in accord with his painting series 'Overhead'.
The 'Work with Model' (2008-09) presents the artist's critical attitude to male dominance towards women. By using and manipulating female models he convincingly exposes this gender conflict.
Mr. Frešo has been creating his collection of self-portraits since he was 10 years old. Thus, a mosaic of a large number of photos showing gradual physical transformation of the artist's face, as well as that in his face, which is permanent and immutable. All of this in a time-lapse series following a vertical axis. This creates a unique, non-monumental 'endless' column of one's face and personality in 'Untitled', (1984-2019). The vertical line also carries within the autobiographical 'parameters' (artist's height of 203cm and the 45 photos represent his current age). This series is complemented by a cycle of analogue photographs from his youth, when he as a teenager, together with friends, created small stylized actions, stories of 'artificial' reality.

The narrative of the 'Mirroring Me' exhibition, located in the center of the gallery, presents photographic objects and 3D implementations from the 'Family Vintage' series (2015-19). A bit humorous, this series examines the 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 met the grandmother. Another object is a simple roll up, on which the massive figure of the artist is depicted wearing small overalls which belonged to his father, who died last year. This is a very personal image containing very personal humor and irony. This series of objects is smartly complemented by the family's music 'altar' - three LP records. Here, three generations of Frešo's family - musicians, comprising the grandfather, father and Viktor with his own band – are presented. Although it is only a sketchy documentation of this family's musical heritage, it is also a work of great historical and emotional value for the artist himself. These 3D creations are suitably complemented by photo enlargements of his father with the artist's mother, and his grandfather with his grandmother.

For Frešo, a camera creates the equivalent of a visual notebook, capturing fragments of reality and important elements from the family archive. An objective 'freezing' of time, a halting of the moment acquires a strong subjective charge as time keeps passing.
It tells the story of the artist's transformation in and through time. It also functions as the melancholic browsing through the family album. In conclusion, we can quote Susan Sontag and apply her quote to further elucidate Mr. Frešo's photography:
'Photographic image is primarily filtered through artist's personality and only secondary through a camera'.