Robert Gabris



“I was born in Slovakia, currently I live and work in Vienna. In my work, I deal mainly with the medium of drawing and experimental forms of graphics, especially etching and dry needle. My works are mostly autobiographical, as a result of constantly searching for the exact ratio and symmetry. Metaphorically, my works are a quote of my existence, an autopsy of various identities, and a study of my affiliation. I describe the content of my work as a socio-critical, political and activist confrontation with questions of one’s own identity and seeking new perspectives of different minorities within the European context. The starting point of my work is new experimental forms of drawing as resistance against exclusion and racism. ”(R. Gabris)

Robert Gabris, a contemporary visual artist who has been living abroad for several years (Vienna), represents a specific offshoot of contemporary artists who have successfully established themselves beyond their homeland in terms of presentation, market and institutional activities. Gabris’s interest is in terms of the visual type of drawing, which is often referred to as “forgotten” or “submissive” medium. Drawing is a direct, visual and authentic output of the thinking process, with an emphasis on the themes that Gabris reflects in his work. From the genre’s point of view, we could classify them as “harsher” topics that work with their own identity, the physical and metaphorical body, the ethnic and cultural origins of a person, and the individual’s attitude towards definitions of socio-political beliefs.

These topics are expressed in contemporary art practice mainly by multimedia installations, liquid painting and committed art. Gabris does not work with current digital technologies, respectively they are not an essential part of his work, though expresses himself in the subject, technically mastered and detailed drawing with Dürer’s precision. Large-format drawings have the character of verismo observation of anthropological signs (anatomy, detail, cultural policy, or references to ethnic and sexual stereotypes), other times the expression of the drawing itself gets to a more abstract level and speaks of symbolic acts. The visual trace of the individual drawings creates a tectonically layered structure, in a monochrome design. It is not a country in the sense of the genre (landscape painting), but rather a procedural recording of memories of “my” country.

The works presented at the exhibition at the Šopa Gallery open the authors’ private archive of mental memories of native land. As an “outside man” he follows the events in Slovakia and points to current problems in society connected with extremism, unjustified nationalism and basically opens a discussion to social (in) tolerance, freedom of thinking and speech under the influence of populism or political distortion. Gabris analyzes the current exhibition through a chamber ensemble works through their complex relationship to its own (native) country and its ontology in relation to it, the minority and its cultural traditions, social segregation, racial and stereotypical expressions of standards defining the current polarization of society. The content of the exhibited drawings and installations are metaphorical emotional landscapes, maps, which are visual comments of the author’s relationship to his native country, Slovakia. It reflects the reality of physical being in a certain space (country, border, mentality) and vice versa, symbolically his country gets “deep under his skin” and looks at home from the position of “emigrant”, the author raises questions such as where is my home? Where was I born? Is it the place where I live? Is it a place where they love me? Is it a place where I love? Is it a place where I feel good?

Robert Gabris studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (2006 – 2010) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (2010 – 2014). He presented his work at several solo and group exhibitions abroad. Since 2018 he has appeared at several exhibitions in Slovakia (Central Slovak Gallery in Banská Bystrica, Gandy Gallery Bratislava, Tranzit Gallery, Austrian Cultural Forum in Bratislava). Gabris’s work is relatively little known to the local audience, and therefore the current exhibition at the Šopa Gallery has the ambition to put Gabris’s work into the awareness of the contemporary art scene and at the same time respond to current social events.

Exhibitions of this gallery are supported by Slovak Arts Council.

Slovak Arts Council is the main partner of the project.

The project is also supported by East Slovak Gallery.

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