Nina Horvat: This Isn't Nice 2014 - 2020


Nina Horvat: This Isn't Nice 2014 - 2020

27.02.2020 - 15.03.2020 / MSU galerija

In the last few years, the artist Nina Horvat has directed her artistic activity towards the City of Zagreb, focusing on the negativity of its urban transformation.

Her previous work is characterised by a multimedia approach, while the use of a certain medium depended on the area and the topic she dealt with. This is characteristic of artists using post-conceptual practices who, in their communication with the public, change areas and media like nomads. Her works range from analytical to figurative painting, from ‘auditory images’ to ‘moving images’, and in this exhibition she applies the painting technique of ‘bad painting’ in order to present all the brutality of the topic she addresses, that is the City of Zagreb, in the most expressive way. The question she indirectly singles out here by transferring critically chosen motifs of the city to canvas is whether art can represent reality. The ‘unskilled’ painting style enabled the artist to distance herself from the motifs, not to succumb to emotions and to preserve the manifest character rather than slip into pure expressiveness with the ‘aesthetics of the ugly’. 

As a citizen, the artist felt the urge to react to radical changes in the image of Zagreb as she knows it and which is close to her, which is why she joined many of those who expressed their disapproval of such transformation of the city by protesting. As an artist, she began an art-activist project of painting this ‘new face of Zagreb’, those changes that have, due to excessive commercialisation of public space, mainly pedestrian zones, squares, streets and green areas, changed the appearance and impression of the city and significantly affected the change in the habits of using those public spaces of the city (Ban Jelačić Square, Bogovićeva Street, Cvjetni Square, Varšavska Street, Kvaternik Square). The artist also chooses some examples of modern architecture in the city centre and further (the building of the Academy of Music, Maksimir Stadium), as well as urban reconstructions (Žrtava fašizma Square), judging them as urbanistically inappropriate and aesthetically substandard. 

She is also focused on the transformation and disappearance of spaces with cultural content which were an added value to the inherited urban matrix of the wider centre of the City. That is why the artist considers the conversion of numerous Zagreb cinemas (Jadran, Zagreb, Triglav...), mostly into shops, unacceptable. She adds to this the latest example, Cinema Europa, which, due to a hasty closing procedure, shows to the film audience a lack of understanding for urban values of the City. Because of this, since recently the artist has been taking action to rename such spaces in public, highly urban areas of the City of Zagreb, by secretly putting up labels with the original names of those spaces, that is, carrying out an action called ‘This Is Ugly’ (since 2017) by marking urban, visually ruined places in front of which she leaves a banner with the same inscription. These actions memorise/commemorate former spaces, today non-existent or neglected, which have lost their symbolic and real value and have significantly changed the character of the City. 

Curator: Tihomir Milovac

Nina Horvat was born in Zagreb in 1963. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1989, in prof. Zlatko Keser’s class. She spent the 1992–1993 school year as a Portuguese government scholar at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lisbon (Academia dos belos artes Lisboa). There she attended Painting and Pottery Painting courses. Since 1987, she has participated in numerous thematic exhibitions and public actions, and since 1990 until today she has prepared many solo exhibitions. She lives and works in Zagreb.