The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
Nikola Ukić, The Projective Cast
No gallery, 9/27– 10/18 2013
Nikola Ukić's first solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb includes the works that were created during his residential visit to the museum. His works are marked by a synthesis of numerous conceptual, formal and material particularities, for which he has developed his own personal techniques.
The artist's choice of materials is based on their potential to change in the sculpting process, or to become embodied by the mere process. The radical sculpting procedure—to develop a sculpture during the process of the creation of the material—is particularly emphasized in his manner of using polyurethane. With cloths, plastic films or holders, Ukić aims this expanding material in different directions, while the intervention is possible only in a short period of time when the material is in a phase between two states of matter. In the process of the creation of those sculptures, both the form and the material are equally primordial, they engage in a dialogue. Thus, the spirit of creation is inherent in the sculptures, in which one can sense spontaneous activity, creation, and permissiveness in the creation.
In his most recent works, Ukić casts polyurethane onto the plastic film which has previously been painted with motifs. On the flexible negative, polyurethane unpredictably expands and in the process of its solidification, it unites with the painting thus adopting the form of a sculpture, which is at the same time the painting carrier. As opposed to the classical sculpture process—in which the sculptor carefully carves, and the material 'precedes' the process of sculpting—here both the material and the form emerge in a dialogue process between the movements of the sculptor's body and the hardly predictable expansion of the material. In a synthesis of the sculpture, the painting, and the performance emerges a new plastic reality which simulates the outer world while preserving a trail of the movements of the human body. In his plastic explorations he follows in the footsteps of the circle of artists—from César to Eva Hesse to Lynda Benglis to Gabriel Orozco.
The exhibition at the No Gallery showed several works which, in the same medium, reconsider various spatial-plastic problems. What links them together is the line theme that the artist elaborates on three levels. The spatial emphasis of the display is the great object Eclipse that includes several casts which, in the process of casting, adopted the graphic meander pattern. Ukić is fascinated by the meander line which can be observed through the category of the stylization of two-dimensional computer vector graphics, but also as a prehistoric motif that invokes, in the observer, a subconscious register of meaning. It is a specific reinterpretation of the meander theme, which was—in Croatia—adopted by Julije Knifer, who kept reusing it and reconsidering it in his numerous painting, drawing and graphic cycles. In that direct reference, Ukić is mostly intrigued by the repetition of motifs, the feeling that by observing the works of Knifer one faces—as defined by Davor Matičević—'the heaviness of hopelessness'.
The second group of works has, on the surface of tight kidney-shaped bulks, a photographic pattern of the curvy line of a rope, thus modernizing the tradition of the use of photography in the three-dimensional form and bringing about the new quality of plastic reality.
The third work, No Field, is the surface of the imprinted floor of the No Gallery, made out of a thin layer of rubber foam which, even after its solidification, still continues to change shape. It is a specific cast of emptiness with which he covers the partition, records the traces, links, and grooves while analyzing the line as shallow relief.
Before creating works for an exhibition space, Nikola Ukić carefully explores the spatial givens, the spirit of the venue as a specific place of experience, and then develops and refines this knowledge in the works and in their spatial arrangement. On that level, the visitors also become active participants in the game of spatial lines of force, the full and the empty, the passive and the dynamic.
At the end of the year, this exhibition's exhibits will be on show at the Gallery of Fine Arts in Split as part of the cycle of exhibitions entitled One on One – Nikola Ukić / Kristina Restović.
Nikola Ukić was born in Rijeka in 1974. Having graduated in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb, he left for Düsseldorf, where he graduated in Sculpture from the Arts Academy in 2004. Apart from having numerous independent and group exhibitions at which he showed his work in Croatia and Germany, he has also won scholarships for residential visits to France and Germany. His works are part of museum and private collections. He lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Nataša Ivančević, Curator
The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Culture Republic of Croatia and the City Office for Education, Culture and Sports in Zagreb.
3t.cable d.o.o Opatija, Signum max d.o.o. Zaprešić, Poli-mix d.o.o. Šapjane
Photographs: courtesy of the Hengesbach Gallery Berlin.
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