Homage to Tibor Kovalik.

   Between the splinters of postmodernistic world, whose fragments, only, shine and all together remind us of a dump, the pictures of Tibor Kovalik are a challenge. Kovalik's pictures are the glove thrown at the cowardice refusing to perceive the wholeness of however complicated a world, and the logic of history, both of them which seem horrible and incomprehensible. Against those sharp and dangerous splinters of postmodernistic resignation are standing up solitary philosophers, like, Theilhard de Chardin and solitary painters like Slovak Tibor Kovalik.

   The sixty five years old Tibor brought along from his native Slovakia the contrast between high mountains in the shade of which he grew-up and the earthliness of small modern town. He coincidently comes from the region, where are the last gothic cathedrals and renaissance town halls on the European continent.. East of Slovakia is a different world, separate from the world of western Christianity. Huntington in his Clash of Civilization drew his famous border line of the western world just a bit east of the Polish and Slovak borders. Beyond this line are the regions with different writing (Cyrillic), the different churches with their onion shaped small towers and with altars detached from people, the world of icons, regions of different people, people with sadness in theirs eyes.

   The ancient Slovak historical experience as guardian of western Europe's frontier against Euro-Asian raids is reflected in the destiny of thousands Slovak families so also of the Kovalik family. Tibor could not deny his profound European roots. As a child, he witnessed the Second world war as manifestation of two totalitarionism. First nazism and than communism. In the year 1968 as a young man, he experienced the invasion of former Czecho-Slovakia by the Soviet armie which during the Dubcek period wanted to humanize socialism, at least a little, and to find for it, a "human face".

   Escape from east Europe. The solitude of an exile. A new human situation. Instead of small villages between mountains, instead of towns with old and narrow streets, the confrontation of glass and concrete of Toronto, and the indecision of Montreal. But also replication of French Europe in North America, Quebec City. Finally he had to stay and strike his roots. In this novel-like connection, which real life brings to the end of twentieth century, the artist -painter matured.

   Miracle succeeded. Tibor did not become somebody else. Exile, confrontation with another world did not break him. It did not make of him a different human being. He is not a repairman of refrigerators, he is not a waiter in the restaurant, not even X-ray technologist. Tibor Kovalik remained an artist, an excellent, thinking painter. A painter, who draws with perfection, who is not scared of colours, reads the books with passion and never ceases to hope that everything human or divine could be expressed without words. Speaking about the words, I have to confess that there is a special relation between writers and painters. I had a writer friend who used to tell me that when he starts to understand the world less, and he is not able to write, even a line, he rushes into the closest painter's studio. The entrance into the banal craftsman workshop defined by four walls, is also a window into the world of imagination. Sketches, fragments of colored areas, the smell of thinners. An emulsion which liberates the energy of soul. This is the world which gives a writer freedom and courage to face the risk that creation will not always brings happiness or peace. Often it brings anxiety or melancholy like the one which emanates from renown Dürer's engraving.

   Definitely, I am not alone in the world, who is fascinated by uneasiness of Tibor Kovalik paintings. Let's start with his women. Tibor's female figures are historical arch-types of our civilization. Eve, Ophelia, Oh,Bella Canada, Space for one, Solitude are first of all beautiful women. They are the women of dreams. But these women are much more. They are hiding in their sight an anxiety which transcends them. This is anxiety of a thinking man at the turn of the millenium.

   Kovalik narrates arch-types of the millenium. Song for the Bird of Paradise or Be cause of Dialogue are chaste bits of flesh, the wings from Mesopotamia, fragments of Maya's gods and also very sad eyes of India's women. Our Earth, our Planet is talking to us, the place where people of melancholy or cruelty, but also people of unfinished and endless dreams searching for happiness.

   Tibor and his son Peter call their method of creative expression Irrealism. I really do not think that for those who are looking at these pictures, scientific placement is of any importance. I am moved by the fact, that Kovalik is not ashame of his search. He is showing in it the despair of a man, who knows that it is impossible to know everything and to feel all. He continues his crusade in quest of the impossible. He does not stay in the puddle of despair. He is guided by Light waves. He flies on them easily and with confidence. He knows the Transmitter who transmits them. He knows about the possibility of salvation.

   His Faces of Desire are an encyclopedia of possible solutions. The face of the female is full of excitement, of possible desire and temptation. Kovalik is avoiding unequivocal avenues and solutions. We oscillate between angels and animals as St. Thomas Aquinaus or Blaise Pascal. We are driven by Eternal Desire for Freedom, sitting on sweaty horses which are kidnapping crazy and greedy riders into unknown. At the same time they are trampling on chess-board of history. Eternal desire for freedom 2 is already on top of global chaos, almost into the Stratosphere of despair. But there is still Dante's hope of Paradise and God's nearness in the symbolic dove.

   Tibor leaves nothing in peace. He examine faces around him and tells us how we are hiding us from ourselves. His series of Masks and Butterflies is magnificent gallery of faces hiding from us their real meaning. I can hear them whisper.

   Is the Universe perhaps ultimate ? (Who can prove it ? Who will live to see? And what is all that for? ) In the Teilhardean picture Infinity of End are not any human figures. This is the first picture of triptych The Great Liberation which Tibor and Peter painted together. In this work even Eternity is not without hope. I really do not know if there is an other painter, who would open for us so much intelligent and visionary richness as Tibor Kovalik does. Naturally, all this is not done by unknown means of expression. Surrealism , mainly Salvador Dali is present. He is and he is not, because the arsenal of expressions is used in a different fashion. It includes and indicates answers, which had not been known or had been just emerging in twenties or thirties of 20th century. Today, we know what it means the end of two totalitarianisms, the dreams of freedom, today we are in the center of globalization.

   For many years I was following the work of another Slovak painter of Tibor's generation. He also loved surrealism. He opened for Slovakia the world of dreams during the time of the worst totalitarianism. In spite of the fact, that at first look there are similarities in the method, the irrealism of Tibor Kovalik, an exile and rebel in Canada, in Québec is about something else. It is not only the game with the senses, it is the game with the maze of the human brain. In Kovalik's work there is something from the labyrinth of the mind as we can find in literature, in the text of blind Jorge Luis Borges, in the obscurity of the gigantic library of human spirit.

   Dear Tibor, your friends in Slovakia are happy that you are, that you paint, that you dream and love. We are with you in this time, when you start to enjoy the age of future elders, which rewards only those who not only live long, but live fully also. Let God gives you Silent Nurture of the Soul, which you, by some miracle, will implant into other paintings. Slovaks are thankful for the great work you leave behind for Slovak exile literary culture, for stain glass windows in the church in Cambridge (Galt) Ontario and for many others uncountable works. Also for three paintings of first Slovak historical rulers Pribina, Rastislav, Svätopluk, which you donated to a new embassy of independent Slovakia in Ottawa, during the time I was working there. Memories of your paintings are inspiring me even now, in my office with the view of Bratislava castle. Your pictures excite the same way, people in Québec, Canada or anywhere in the world. You are able to enter the heart of man. Spirit overcomes the borders of the hard beating heart. Lines and colors become obedient instruments of the soul, your soul. This Internet of congenial souls has, thanks to your work, a high resistance against destructive viruses. And this is probably the most important reason of happiness in this anniversary of yours.

Be happy with loved Roseline and Sofia
and with all of us who love you.

Anton Hykisch
former embassador
of the Slovak Republic in Canada