The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb



This exhibition and accompanying publication, a specific “artist’s book”, aim at presenting a unique handwriting of Josip Vaništa, the sketcher, the painter, the writer...

Josip Vaništa (Karlovac, 1924) is one of the last major active artists of the neo-avant-garde. At the exhibition Abolition of Retrospective in Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art, from April, 25 to June 16, more than 200 of his works, paintings, drawings, objects, installations, collages, anti-magazines, letters, movies...will be exhibited. These works testify to an extraordinary artistic personality of Josip Vaništa, and, at the same time, represent valuable documents of the visual culture, literature, philosophy and entire society of the second half of the 20th century.

From his earliest oil paintings Fruit (Voće) in 1941 and Self-portrait (Autoportret) in 1942, from his high school years in Karlovac, all the way to the recently “signed” photographic installations, we have been following Vaništa’s “invisible drawing of the spirit” for the past seventy years. However, the exhibition has no retrospective or representational character. On the contrary, it abolishes retrospective as a museological category and convention. With its intimacy and discipline, the exhibition tries to correspond to the spirit of this self-sacrificial and ascetic artist. Some ten exhibited segments – Early drawings; Thoughts for months; Abolition of perspective; Recommendations, projects, correspondence with international artists; Letters; Gorgona; Collective legitimacy; Satellites or adherents to Gorgona; Postgorgona; Placing down; Films; Portraits of the artists – share a common thread, be it a drawing, painting, note, an installation or a letter to a friend. Elliptic expression, reduction to the most essential, aspiration for scarcity... all testify to Vaništa’s fundamental procedure of reduction, omission, and the need to confront the void as a philosophical category.

The exhibition and the accompanying educational programs will provide a rich source of information on the social and historical context of Vaništa's artistic activity, his connections to French culture, and the European artists he cooperated with on the anti-magazine Gorgona, which he founded and edited (1961-1966). An extensive catalogue will be published on the occasion of the exhibition (340 pages with approx. 100 illustrations) with the texts by national and international art and literary critics, art historians, writers, directors, curators, artists, philosophers and architects, including Dunja Blažević, Ješa Denegri, Ivan Čižmek, Marija Gattin, Slavko Goldstein, Marko Grčić, Boris Groys, Radmila Iva Janković, Miljenko Jergović, Stanko Lasić, Tonko Maroević, Matko Meštrović, Georgij Paro, Christian Rattemeyer, Ljerka Schiffler, Đuro Seder, Branka Stipančić, Žarko Vijatović, Igor Zidić i Nada Beroš.

Exhibition curator: Nada Beroš, senior curator, Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art
Exhibition set-up: Nenad Fabijanić, architect
Catalogue and visuals graphic design: Bilić_Müller Studio

Photography: Filip Beusan and others


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