Mária Bartuszová

Mária Bartuszová

Born April 24 1936, Prague
Lived in Košice (1963)
Died December 22 1996, Košice

An important Slovak sculptor who did not gain recognition until after her death. (The Slovak National Gallery held a retrospective exhibition of her work in 2005 which has since been shown several times in Slovakia. In 2007 her works were exhibited at Documenta 12 in Kassel.) Despite the pressure of the period in which she lived, she created a remarkable collection of works with a special inner sensitivity. The examination of physical principles and the secret origin and end of life through the use of plaster became her distinctive testimony to the nature of the processes around us.

sculpture, object, drawing


She studied at the Higher School of Applied Arts in Prague under professor Václav Šimek.


After she finished her studies at the ceramics and porcelain studio under professor Otto Eckerdt at the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague, she moved with her husband, the artist Juraj Bartusz, to Košice. Her creative work was restricted by the totalitarian communist regime and because of the declared form of official art. She tried to create art in spite of her financial problems and the requirements of caring for her family.


Gypsum became a medium through which she expressed herself. The material, which is rather preparatory in nature, started to define her work, in which she sought original shapes, using inspiration from organic structures. Her experiments with casting plastic gypsum gave rise to elementary bio-forms, such as those which were freely derived from rain drops, plant germs and cells, wheat grains, and birds’ nests. Natural processes such as growth, proliferation, and multiplication, as well as death and regeneration, became the focus of her attention. By monitoring the energy flow in matter she tried to visualize the contrasts of force and mutually acting principles. She dealt with the force of pressure and the tension and transformation of substances during phase changes. She deliberately played with the effects of gravity using the principle of pneumatic forming and she created specific sculptures (various ovoid, full and hollow shapes) by filling and emptying their volumes. For her it was as if the fragility of life and nature was analogous to the fragility of gypsum and to the subtle shapes formed within it which did not lack inner vitality. The experimental approach to gypsum forming made it possible for Bartusz to express the smoothness of monitored transformations using poetic language. She also captured her thoughts on ongoing processes and energy flow in her drawings which she complemented by cutting and fine stitching the paper.



Sculptures and Drawings (solo exhibition, Košice)


In the mood for constructing rational and rhythmic structures, she created a number of aluminium, geometrical reliefs. She became a member of the Club of Concretists with whom she briefly exhibited. However, she was not an orthodox supporter of industrial concretism but she continued to use the knowledge from her research into living organisms and their structures.


She took a study trip to Egypt and visited Paris the following year.
Concretists´Club and Guest local and foreign (group exhibition, Karlovy Vary)


In the 1970s, as a result of the increasing intensity of her sculptural work, she gradually started to divide sculptures and create individual inner elements. Using rectangular shapes penetrating into passive forms, she captured the conflict between materials with different characteristics.


Architectural implementations: Wall of the meeting room, South Slovakian Cellulose and Paper Plant, Štúrovo.


She also showed increased sensitivity and perceptivity when creating haptic sculptures and puzzles for blind and visually impaired children in Levoča at the two editions of the local sculptural symposia (in 1976 and 1983 in cooperation with Gabriel Kladek). By emphasizing the tactile features of newly made sculptures which consisted of several parts, she provided the handicapped children with various geometrical shapes and organic structures (for example enlarged grains of wheat, drops of dew) in the form of an entertaining game.
Sculpture Symposium I. (public program, Levoča)


International Sculpture Symposium Vyšné Ružbachy (public program, Vyšné Ružbachy)


She used natural materials (branches, stones, stone ashlars) in the gypsum forming process. The resulting new shapes were reminiscent of commonly known winter landscapes, such as a snow covered surface or snow compressed between stones.


She visited London during her study trip. From 1980, strictly oval forms appeared in her work, which the artist further deformed by crushing, breaking, and greatly compressing the created hollow eggs and shells. By hand she impressed the motif of the temporality of physical presence on the surface of the gypsum sculptures. The author's more complex approach to the pulsing natural forms marked a turning point, arrived at by her depiction of the relationship between forces of two different directions: centripetal and centrifugal. She showed the examined process by tightening strings between which compression occurred. Thus, with minimalistic expression, Bartuszová managed to capture the tension which resulted from the visible effect of pressure and its resistance.


Architectural implementation: Two-part sculpture, Crematory, Košice and the Wall of the administrative building of the East Slovakian Ironworks, Košice.
Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries in Eastern Slovakia (group exhibition, Košice)
Arts Salon ´82 (group exhibition, Prešov)


Sculpture Symposium II. (public program, Levoča)


Architectural implementation: Courtyard of student hostel, Košice. Around 1984, she created fragile hollow eggs (ovoids) based on the shape of a balloon, and which she tied by a string. By creating a feeling of „imprisonment“, she expressed a change in action of originally unbound forces.


From the mid-1980s, she concurrently dealt with and developed the disruption of the inner integrity of shell cavities and provided them with new space in the very centre of the sculpture. The suddenly revealed inner structures which showed the original tension at the time of their formation along with a positive or negative volume. Pneumatic forming became a distinctive feature of her work with elastic rubber balloons which broke under the pressure of the cast sculpture.
The Current Czechoslovak Chamber Sculpture (group exhibition, Trenčín)


Architectural implementation: Fountain, Dargov Shopping Centre, Košice.


Sculptural Work I. 1962-1987 (solo exhibition, Košice)


Sculptural Work (solo exhibition, Prešov)


She brought an imprint of the past in the form of disrupted shells, left behind fibrous packaging, fruit, membranes, a prototype of petrified nuclei and the remnants of birds’ nests. Then, she inserted it like a vital organism - a metaphor for a sculptural cell - into an endless line of created eggs and broken shells from which new forms of life grow.



Laboratory I - International Artistic Symposium (public program, Prešov)
Minisalon (group exhibition, Prague)
Grey Brick 35/1992 (group exhibition, )


Power Station T (group exhibition, Poprad)


The Sixties in the Slovak Fine Art (group exhibition, Bratislava)


20th Century - History of Slovak Visual Arts (group exhibition, Bratislava)


Minisalon (group exhibition, Ubud)
Eastern Slovak Gallery 1952-2002 (group exhibition, Košice)
Slovak Visual Arts 1970–1985 (group exhibition, Bratislava)


Contemporary Slovak Art 1960 - 2000 (group exhibition, Budapest)


Path to Organic Sculpture (1962-1996) (solo exhibition, Rimavská Sobota)
Retrospective X (group exhibition, Rimavská Sobota)
Swelling up. Path to Organic Sculpture (solo exhibition, Banská Bystrica )


Out of the City. Land Art (group exhibition, Košice)
Od sadry k žuvačke: Autorské techniky a stratégie (group exhibition, Nitra)
Mária Bartuszová (solo exhibition, Munich)
"Awkward Objects"/"Niezgrabne przedmioty" (group exhibition, Warsaw)


Mária Bartuszová (solo exhibition, Munich)
Anna Bartuszová – Notes / Mária Bartuszová – Drawings (group exhibition, Rimavská Sobota)



Organic Sculpture (group exhibition, London)
Women Sculptors. Selection of Significant Czech & Slovak Sculptors (group exhibition, Bratislava)


Mária Bartuszová (solo exhibition, London)

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2016