Stano Filko

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“Artists are beings of the third, fourth and fifth dimensions.”

Born in 1937, Stano Filko was a key figure in the Slovak avant-garde, associated primarily with environment, installation, happening, and action. He began his studies at the School of Applied Arts in Bratislava (1956-59) and later studied Monumental Painting at the Academy of Arts, Bratislava. He emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1981 to West Germany, and also lived in Canada and the US before returning to Bratislava in 1990.

Numbers, colours, algorithms and the cosmos are both the subject and the medium of Filko’s paintings, collages, and assemblages. Influenced by modernist architecture and existential philosophies, Filko built psycho-philosophical systems with the goal of revealing a singular truth and an absolute objectivity. His Color System, for example, combines Newtonian physics with the colour theory of art history, classifying colours into five different dimensions that further unfold into 20 sub-sections based on hue and emotive associations. Before his final passing in 2015, Filko experienced two clinical deaths, one in 1945 and the other in 1952, prompting his lifelong reflection on transitions of state and dimension—on the otherworldly.

Priestor-Space X, 1967

installation, various size
on loan from private collection

In the early 1960s, he began working on “building” a house in the small Slovak town of Snežienková (a project which would last over a decade), arranging the house’s rooms and objects by colour. He paired each colour with a specific reference and used these pairings to create a complex chakra system, in which red marks the sphere of biology and the body, green stands for the political and social relations, white is the colour of ontology, dealing with philosophical questions of reality and existence, blue refers to the cosmos, and black symbolizes the domain of the subject, the ego. Later, his system of chakras and colour codes was expanded to include more colours.

Map of the World with Women, 1967

mixed media on paper, 95 x 41 cm
photo: Dávid Biró

„All the projects start out as drawings with the hope that they will be realised. One piece is called Woman on the Map of the World, so here are some drawings of women. That piece was from the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s.” SF