The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb


Exhibitions autumn/winter 2014

Julije Knifer: Uncompromising

Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 Sept. – 6 Dec. 2014

Preparations are underway at the Museum of Contemporary Art for the mounting of the first retrospective exhibition of the work of Julije Knifer (Osijek, 1924 – Paris, 2004), an artist whose unconventional approach to the medium of painting marked the second half of the 20thcentury.

A selection of key works from the MSU's in-house collection will be joined at the exhibition with works borrowed from numerous private and public collections, including some of the world's leading collections of modern and contemporary art – New York's MoMA, Paris' Centre Georges Pompidou and Geneva's Mamco among others. Some of these works have never before been shown in Croatia. From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, namely, Julije Knifer often worked and exhibited in Germany, and moved to France in the early 1990s (Sète, Nice) where he would, having settled in Paris, remain the rest of his life. To be exhibited along with his early work preceding the meander are many drawings/sketches for paintings and murals, documentary photographs – including those of performances less widely known to the broader public, and his authentic (diary) notes – a verbal extension of the contemplation of human existence embodied in the symbol of the meander.

In the art world Julije Knifer is recognised by the geometric form of the meander, which he arrived upon in the early 1960s searching for the utter reduction of all expressive elements: "Within a few months I came, as it were, to the end, that is to a black & white painting (which I referred to as an anti-painting) – to a meander from which one simply cannot go further."

Striving to reduce expression to its simplest form early on, during his years of study at Zagreb's Academy of Fine Arts (1951–1957), in the adopted language of cubism, he moves from recognisable motifs in reality (landscapes, portraits) towards an entirely abstract expression. But everything that would later be reiterated in his work was presaged prior to his enrolment at the Academy in the Self-Portraits series, created in continuity over a number of years (1949–1952) as diary entries of sorts.

In the fine arts the winding meander of the river became a synonym for the eternal flow of life. Julije Knifer would, however, append to this archaic symbol his own, individual interpretations, posing complex questions concerning human existence through the simplest possible, but uttermost and antithetical visual tools. "It is likely that I have already created my final paintings, but the first – perhaps not." This thought, following the logic of the meander, is incessantly repeated in his notes from 1976, and offers us a key to a world in which chronology and continuity have no meaning.

Knifer's language of strict geometry constantly provoked classification into diverse trends in post-war art around the world (constructivism, minimalism, primary painting), opening a window from the early 1960s to his participation in major international exhibitions. Nevertheless, we find Knifer's actual spiritual origins in his affiliation with the neo-avant-garde group Gorgona (1959–1966) the members of which found their point of departure for unconventional artistic work in the philosophies of existentialism, absurdism and Zen, creating a platform for the new artistic phenomena that would become a reality a decade later.

Knifer's processual, utterly disciplined and almost ascetic approach to "radical will" would be expressed in its extremity in a series of meander drawings he began in the late 1980s – for months saturating the surface of paper with the trace of a graphite pencil, inscribing into it the temporal frame of his own existence.

Exhibition curator: Radmila Iva Janković

Associates: Ana Knifer and Professor Zvonko Maković PhD

Art layout: Filip Kožarić

Peter Kogler

MSU, 18 Dec. 2014 – 20 Feb. 2015

A prominent protagonist of contemporary Austrian art, Peter Kogler is one of the first artists whose work is based on computer-generated projections designed for exterior and interior architecture. His diversely encoded designs draw their inspiration from the rich vocabulary of modern digital information and communication technologies and from film architecture. He earned international acclaim with the exhibitions of his work at the Venice Biennale (1986), Documenta IX (1992) and Documenta X (1997), primarily as an artist that actives space with current media and encourages the viewer to interact with the art. Moving the boundaries of image constraints, the observer enters the work, his presence manipulating and altering it. In the process he, on the one hand, adapts to the structure of the space and, on the other, transforms the latter into a variable body simultaneously following and submitting to the systems created by the artist. Since 1984 Kogler has used the symbolically charged motifs of pipes, the sphere of the earth, the ant and the human brain – creating installations and multi-layered artefacts that appear on walls, floors and ceilings to create negotiable labyrinths.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has commissioned P. Kogler to create a new project adapted to the second storey of the temporary exhibition area.

Peter Kogler was born in Innsbruck in 1959 and now lives and works in Vienna. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and taught at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste Städelschule in Frankfurt, at the Académies des Beaux-Arts in Le Mans and Paris, at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunst in Vienna and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

Exhibition author: Snježana Pintarić

Deimantas Narkevicius: Da Capo

MSU, 18 Dec. 2014 – 20 Feb. 2015

Although he graduated sculpting at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, Deimantas Narkevicius gained popularity as a video artist. His enduring thematic preoccupation is with history and its impact on individual human fates. Relating the story of World War II, the period of socialism in Lithuania and the changes that occurred in the 1990s, in his work the artist frequently makes use of archival material and found recordings of an event – these fragments of reality often constitute the starting point in the construction of his own narratives. The editing techniques he applies in many films do not necessarily imply a consistent narrative structure. Narkevicius creates zones of uncertainty in the perception of what is real and what may have happened, and we are never quite certain if it did in fact take place, making it very difficult to determine whether it is fiction or documentary. The field of possible interpretation opened by his films is, in his opinion, the only way one can return to the past without fossilising it as a monument. For Narkevicius memory is never an objective fact – it is always a political act.

Along with a number of photographs and audio installations, the lion's share of the exhibition will consist of films created over the past decade, including his renowned 8mm film His-story (1988) a part of the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art. On the occasion of the exhibitions at Zagreb's MSU, Florence's Museo Marini and an exhibition at the Le Magazine gallery in Grenoble, a comprehensive publication is in the works with contributions from eminent art critics, sociologists and curators, including Maria Lind, Jan Verwoert, Sabine Breitwieser, Boris Buden, Kasper Koening and Charles Esche.

Deimantas Narkevicius (1964, Utena, Lithuania) represented Lithuania at the 2003 Biennale in Venice and has shown his works at numerous group and solo exhibitions (Stockholm's Moderna Museet, the Kunstverein in Munich, London's Tate Modern, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville in Paris and elsewhere). He lives and works in Vilnius.

Curators: Marco Scotini and Radmila Iva Janković

Exhibitions at the NO Gallery

"The Artist on Vacation"

NO Gallery, 2 – 7 Sep.2014

The Institute for the Research of the Avant-garde and Valamar Poreč's "The Artist on Vacation" project will again this year showcase the work of recognised international artists created during their vacation at the summer destination of Poreč. The exhibition is a partnering project of the MSU and the Institute for the Research of the Avant-garde.

Curator: Leila Topić

Kožul/Žižić, "Spectre"

NO Gallery, 9 – 22 Sep. 2014

The exhibition continues an examination of obsessive consumption and the economies of debt accompanied by an awareness of unremitting and ubiquitous violence and a pandemic of consumer "culture". The award-winning art duo's new ambient aims to evince the transformation of public areas into shopping centres catering to controlled and consumption-oriented leisure time, more precisely – the dominance of the logic of profit.

Curator: Leila Topić

Merci Picelj: From the Ivan Picelj's Archives and Library

NO Gallery, 26 Sep. – 19 Oct. 2014

Ivan Picelj was an associate of many years of the Museum of Contemporary Art and shaped the MSU's visual identity over a span of several decades. The exhibition from the Ivan Picelj's Archives & Library will also be one of the chief events through which the Museum will celebrate its 60th anniversary.

At the NO Gallery premises we will showcase all of the key elements of the Archive & Library in a manner both visually attractive and interesting to the public. The exhibition will show how the archive is structured and in what manner it will help future researchers gain insight into the work of this artist, and into some aspects of the Croatian art scene in the second half of the 20th century. Also to be exhibited, along with the archival and library materials, are the reliefs I. Picelj presented in 1965 at New York's Howard Wise gallery. The brilliant photography of Damir Fabijanić will help us evoke the working and living environment of an artist whose work inspired change in Croatian art and influenced a generation of artists and designers.

Exhibition author: Snježana Pintarić

Exhibition: Silvo Šarić

NO Gallery, 22 Oct. – 13 Nov.

Silvo Šarić is an artist of the middle generation whose work examines contemporary practices in conceptual and experimental art. The works on exhibit emerged in a referential and interpretative relationship with a space as he finds it and which he uses to create new spatial-visual situations. He thus poses new questions concerning the role and significance of the exhibition space and concerning the relationship between viewer and art. The exhibition will feature multimedia ambient environments and interactive site-specific light installations of processual character.

Curator: Nataša Ivančević

6thTošo Dabac Archive Photography Days

The Tošo Dabac Archive and the MSU (Gorgona Hall)

19 Nov. – 19 Dec. 2014

Programme: ten expert lectures and six photo-workshops, an exhibition of the photographs of Tošo Dabac and an exhibition of the best works from the photo-workshops.

The core theme is the applied photography of Tošo Dabac on the topic of architecture.

The programme of the Tošo Dabac Archive Photography Days is motivated and guided by the idea of promoting the art of photography and is not focused exclusively on the oeuvre of Tošo Dabac. It is concentrated, rather, on the art of photography in the broader sense and on the protection, preservation and validation of photography as the core mission of museum professionals working with photographic collections, and on the contextualisation of the applied, i.e. functional photographs by this artist in the contemporary photography scene.

Given the great public interest for the Tošo Dabac Archive Photography Days the event – the core motivating idea of which is to promote the art of photography – will feature as its central event an exhibition of the works of the Nestor of Croatian photography, Tošo Dabac.

Concept author: Marina Benažić

Project coordinator: Ivana Janković

Exhibition: Rene Bachrach Krištofić

18 Dec. 2014 – 11 Jan. 2015

Along with the paintings on canvas viewers will have the opportunity to see his drawings, and the screening of a film that emerged from an exploration of the media that has become his growing preoccupation of late. A discussion with the artist will be staged in the frame of the exhibition where viewers, journalists and all other interested persons will have the opportunity to pose questions directly to the artist or offer commentary and learn about Rene Bachrach Krištofić's specific areas of interest.

Curator: Ivana Janković

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