Alex Mlynárčik

Alex Mlynárčik

Born October 14 1934, Žilina
Lived in Paris
Lived in Žilina (54)
Lived in Prague (46)

"We did not wait for any awards - if we wished them, we made ​​them ourselves."

(A.M. Above tiny mouse crouching in their burrows, Literární noviny, 3. 10. 2006, s. 7)

performance, action art, conceptual art


Beginnings - prison and protoartistic studies
Alexander Mlynárčik was born in Žilina on 14 October 1934. His early experiences were formed by the surrounding mountains and one very strong act in particular, which was more youthful exuberance than political rebellion. He attempted to cross the border with Austria when he was sixteen and it cost him a year’s imprisonment


Artistic studies, Bratislava and Prague
In 1959 Mlynárčik successfully passed the entrance exams to the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts and Design. After initial classes under Desider Milly, he continued at the department of monumental painting under Peter Matějka. In 1962, by coincidence, he managed to transfer to Prague to study the same field at the Academy of Fine Arts under Vladimír Sychra. However, he became even more influenced by the atmosphere of Prague Neosurrealism lead by Mikuláš Medek. After an initial search for the "concept" of his artistic goal, embodied for example in an abstract painting titled Russian Landscape, dated 1960, he set out on his journey towards the Informel. Gradually, abstraction gave way to more legible motifs of paintings and objects. He created reliefs which he called Epitaphs or Shrines. Their uneven surfaces, containing silhouettes of figures, empty clockfaces, inscriptions and scratches, were subsequently gilded. It was as if he ritually fixated on the cult of human memory, both the every-day and the historical one, as referred to in technique seen in Gothic panel paintings.


Architecture as a concept – VAL projects in the collection of the Olomouc Museum of Art
Besides his action work, Mlynárčik created about seventy decorative pieces for architecture. The majority of them resulted from the legal requirement that a certain percentage of the building costs of each government building contract must be spent on art. Artefacts that were on the very edge of the artist's creativity did not prevent him from using the topic of architecture as a concept. In the late 1960's he established the group of so called prospective architecture VAL (Voies et Aspectes du Lendemain – Ways and Aspects of Tomorrow) with architects Viera Mecková and Ľudovít Kupkovič. Large projects elaborated to the slightest technical detail, in cooperation with professional architects, often presented a significant intervention in the landscape, as a radical gesture in response to its creeping devastation. It features a garland of the Olympic city for 60 000 inhabitants located on the peaks of the Tatra mountains (Heliopolis, 1968-1974, Olomouc Museum of Art) and the E. A. Cernan Memorial (Pocta nádeji a odvahe / A Hommage to Hope and Courage, 1974-1975). One project intended for an urban landscape consisted of an egg-shaped concert hall, in which the audience was the source of music and visual perceptions (Akustikon, 1969-1971, Olomouc Museum of Art), Bratislava Dockyard megastructure (Istroport, 1974-1976) and the E–Temen-An-Ki skyscraper as an image of an oversized Tower of Babel (1980-1994).
From Lettrism and graffiti to a book as a concept and action – books in the collection of Museum of Art
Mlynárčik explained the written records on many artefacts and a collection of street graffiti as tools of expression and a defence of free thinking. For him a book was one example of the media used in such an approach. He first started to work with books with the intention of conceptual art, such as in the case of La comedie humaine (1969, Olomouc Museum of Art), when he replaced a book inside a gilded leather binding with a Paris telephone directory. A book becomes an event through various interventions in the files of other authors and their gradual building up into the form of mail-art (Viliam Jakubík – Vladimír Kordoš – Alex Mlynárčik – Marian Mudroch, Brapatokuk, 1971, Olomouc Museum of Art). He invited hundreds of artists on the occasion of the Paris Biennial in 1971 and then he adjusted their papers into the form of the impressive book Anno domini. "Darované myšlenky / Donated Ideas" were supposed to reflect "desires and hopes, experience and perspectives"


Paris meeting with the New Realism
A decisive encounter for Mlynárčik was with the French critic and art theoretician Pierre Restany who founded the group New Realists in 1960. He worked with the concept of modern nature, that is the urban, industrial and mediated nature. Art is the life of a city, a factory, massmedia and fast growing information technologies. Restany prepared Mlynárčik "for the process of an alternate - different - appropriation of reality, based on an artistic christening of an object". Apart from this lesson, Mlynárčik also brought catalogues full of American Pop-Art and Neo-Dadaism from Paris back to Bratislava. Later events (formed ready-mades - of female figures and figurines) made him - according to Jindřich Chalupecký - a protagonist of the Slovak line of New Realism. They included the relief titled Lola - Permanentná manifestácia XXXI / Lola - Permanent Manifestation XXXI (1966) and three serigraphies from the Pocta / Hommage cycle - citations from The Turkish Bath by Ingres (1967, both in Olomouc Museum of Art).


Between the concept and an action
Besides the basic idea of reality appropriation, Mlynárčik started to increasingly rely on and work with the responses of spectators. A crucial act which ushered in a new chapter of Slovak art in 1965, was Alex Mlynárčik and Stano Filka's invitation to participate at Happsoc I. "Happen society" could also be construed as "found society". The event prompted the public to perceive the reality withdrawn from the stereotypes of its existence. The whole of Bratislava, including all its particulars ( women, dogs, street lamps and the Danube) was proclaimed as the exhibition’s object, and all through a mail-art call rather than in the form of a happening. The expression of the event was unstylised reality itself. Spectators were intended to identify with the thinking of an artist, his or her appropriation. They were instructed to perceive certain things on an artistic level. Jindřich Chalupecký emphasised the conceptual foundation here and in subsequent events organized by Mlynárčik. Happsoc II., Permanentné manifestácie I – IV / Permanent manifestations I – IV (1964 – 68), followed


Permanentné manifestácie II. (public program, Bratislava)
Permanentné manifestácie I. (public program, Paris)


[Untitled] (mixed media)
[Untitled] (mixed media)
[Untitled] (mixed media)

8 grafici cecoslovacchi (group exhibition, Rome)
Tentation (with Miloš Urbásek) (solo exhibition, Paris)


La comédie humaine
La comédie humaine (artist's book)

Flirt slečny Pogany (solo exhibition, Milano)
Pocta H. Ch. Andersenovi (public program, Jokkmokk )


Celebrations and games, escapes from reality
Mlynárčik organised various other events. His happenings were often in the form of celebrations or festivals. Ironically, his works deliberately followed tradition, as Tomáš Štrauss highlighted in his discussions with the artist. Common people, placed more and more in the foreground by Mlynárčik, become a large and grateful part of the audience, separate from local and foreign guests. Carefully planned events took accident, spontaneity and the elemental force of a collective game into account: Juniáles, Festival snehu / June Celebration, Festival of Snow (1970), Keby všetky vlaky sveta, Memoriál Edgara Degasa / If all the Trains of the World, Edgar Degas Memorial (1971) and Evina svadba / Eva's Wedding which, in 1972, provoked his colleagues to expel him from the Union of Slovak Fine Artists. The artist, already fully established abroad, ran once again to the mountains and dreamt up the mythical kingdom of Argilia, which catered for an event whose contents varied over the years. Through it, he idealistically worships Man, the freedom of creation and the diversity which he, together with Restany, perceived as the standard "elsewhere".


Brapatokuk (artist's book)

Memoriál Edgara Degasa (aukce a dostihy) (public program, Bratislava)
Art anticonceptionelle (solo exhibition, Finale Ligure )
Deň radosti – keby všetky vlaky světa (public program, Zákamenné)


Received grant from Ford Foundation
Inter Entrennes (solo exhibition, Paris)
Evina svadba (public program, Žilina)


Contemporary Art in private collections (group exhibition, Székesfehérvár)


Metamorphoses (solo exhibition, Paris)




Artists Tribute to Jiří Chalupecký (group exhibition, Prague)


Art of Action (group exhibition, Prague)
Tapis d´honeur. Pocta Václavu Havlovi (solo exhibition, Bratislava)
Tradition and Avant-garde in Prague (group exhibition, Bonn)


Minisalon (group exhibition, Prague)


Ailleurs: Alex Mlynárčik (solo exhibition, Paris)
VAL (group exhibition, Bratislava)


VAL (group exhibition, Venice)
Aspects / Positions. 50 Years of Art in Central Europe 1949-1999 (group exhibition, Vienna)


Global Conceptualism - Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s (group exhibition, Cambridge (MA))
20th Century - History of Slovak Visual Arts (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Neo-Constructivism in The Slovak Visual Arts (group exhibition, Trnava)
Art in Central Europe 1949–1999 (group exhibition, Barcelona)


From Collection 1st Slovak Investment Group (group exhibition, Bratislava)
Action Art 1965-1989 (group exhibition, Bratislava)


Minisalon (group exhibition, Ubud)
New Slovak Art 1936 - 2001 (group exhibition, Vienna)


Book/Object - Object/Book (group exhibition, Nitra)
Art Žilina 2003 (group exhibition, Žilina)
Contemporary Slovak Fine Art from Collection 1st Slovak Investment Group (group exhibition, Košice)
Slovak Contemporary Art (group exhibition, Prague)


Arteast Collection 2000+23 (group exhibition, Ljubljana )
22 minutes 50,28 seconds (group exhibition, Prague)
IN(TER)MEDIA(S)RES (group exhibition, Žilina)


Between Concept And Action (group exhibition, )
Veronika Rónaiová - Social probe (group exhibition, Brno)
1960 → Present / Slovak Art + Czech Guests (group exhibition, Prague)
Czech and Slovak Fine Art 60s of the 20th century (group exhibition, Trenčín)


Ludwig Goes Pop + The East Side Story (group exhibition, Budapest)


Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2022