A retrospective exhibition at the Miloš Alexander Bazovský Gallery in Trenčín Curator: Radka Nedomová

Just in time before the coronavirus pandemic hit my country, I have opened my first large exhibition in Slovakia in January. Since the gallery was closed for several weeks this spring, the gallery has prepared some videos to showcase my work also in the online space. 

The Trenčín exhibition presents my Fields work between 2013-2020. Mostly paintings, but also prints and experimental forms that I have produced over the years. It was an amazing opportunity for me to show my work as it developed over time, the way I really feel it. 

I have therefore spent much time preparing for the exhibition, which has been in the plan of the gallery one year in advance. The Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant that I received last year was of much help in this respect, as it enabled me to have more freedom and more time to spend on my artistic work. 

It was a sort of a dream of mine to use part of the exhibition space as a kind of a chapel, and I think I made it work in a small passage, where I displayed my light fields and dark fields series that I have made in the course of 2019. The intimate installation of these works has really turned this rather confined space into something that really resembles a small chapel I had envisioned. 

Here is some of what my curator Radka Nedomová wrote for the exhibition: 

The basis of his work reflects his life, experiences and opinions. There are flashes of family background and tradition in it – the male agronomic soil and the female handwork, the traditional environment that he grew up in. Both are further reflected in his work, be it in the themes or directly in his immutable brushwork. 


The initial realistic depiction, which from the very beginning betrayed his emphasis on perfectionism, was gradually stripped of the first-plan reality. Tomáš found his interest most of all in landscapes. Not the landscape viewed in the traditional way, however – a mountainous, typically Slovak curvy and plumpy land. As a native of the Trnava region, he grew up surrounded by flatland, orchards, and fields- fields running endlessly down to the horizon and blending with the skies, fields with deep furrows after ploughing or harvesting, or fields with swishing crops, blending lines, and colours bathing in the sun. They have become the fundamental base for him. On paper and on canvas, he continues developing, variating and deepening this theme.   

Tomáš Žemla does not just use lines and colours as his means of expression. He paints with oil on canvas, often using the concept of a triptych by laying down layers of thin lines in various colour tones. Through this he achieves a unique harmony of lines and vibrating colours that gives his paintings their teeming character. He lets colours, light and shadow play out their game, and couples them with a meditative, minimalist depiction of the landscape. He toys with the combination of warm and cool tones, and uses various shades of one basic colour. Through these basic parametres, he achieves an unusual power of expression and authenticity. 

Photos and video: Courtesy of GMAB Trencin