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Belvedere 21 presents Stanislava Kovalcikova

September 16, 2022–February 5, 2023

Stanislava Kovalcikova is giving a glimpse into her captivating and intriguing work in her first solo exhibition in Austria. She explores the creation of personal identity in her paintings.

Stanislava Kovalcikova creates surreal, weird worlds filled with human and animal figures that defy social conventions. She frequently uses the artistic tactic of alienating the familiar. The main characters in her paintings transcend classification; they are gender-fluid, fantastical beings with ambiguous social origins, ageless ages, unknowable skin tones, and opaque purposes. Their interactions seem both compelling and unsettling, and their relationships are unclear.

Kovalcikova’s figurative painting draws on the canon of art history. She has a thorough understanding of the history of painting, frequently quoting from famous artists like Titian, Giorgione, Goya, Gauguin, Van Gogh, or Manet, and fusing these allusions with a steadfastly modern viewpoint on contentious contemporary subjects. Her works connect communal scenes to the legend of Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. The artist alludes to hedonistic sexuality, which at the moment seems to be a perilous haven, in her tragicomic portrayal of midnight excesses.

The choreography of the installation at Belvedere 21 partially reveals the artist’s aims. The artificial grotto at Hugh Hefner’s Los Angeles residence, a former editor-in-chief of Playboy, is where the name Grotto comes from. Reports of drug overuse and sexual assault at his gatherings surfaced after his passing. The combination of toxic masculinity, money, power, and the sexual exploitation of women is alluded to in the title. The term grotesque, which is derived from the Italian word grotto, is another aspect. It is a leitmotif in Kovalcikova’s work and in art history, denoting the breaking of formal conventions and design principles.

By placing an orange film over the windows, Kovalcikova’s painting creates the appearance of a parallel universe where longings, desires, threats, and anxieties are played out in a strange fashion. Time and space are both altered by the filtered daylight. You leave the chronological order of your own perception when you enter the exhibition. Through her fascinating and enigmatic artwork, Kovalcikova asks viewers to reflect on themselves as well.

Curated by Stella Rollig.


1988 saw the birth of Stanislava Kovalcikova in Czechoslovakia. Her father comes from the little town of Komárno in present-day Slovakia, while her mother is from the Russian island of Sakhalin in the Pacific. Kovalcikova spent her formative years in a number of European locations. Tomma Abts and Peter Doig taught her painting at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art. Her work addresses experiences with crossing borders in life, feeling out of place in a community, and her motherly responsibilities. Her work focuses on issues of familiarity, alienation, and the development of one’s own identity. Düsseldorf is the artist’s home and workplace.

Belvedere 21
Arsenalstrasse 1
1030 Vienna