Berko, Janez Bernik, Mirko Bratuša, Dragica Čadež, Matej Čepin, Tina Dobrajc, Milan Erič, Zdenko Huzjan, Marko Jakše, Zmago Jeraj, Staš Kleindienst, Lojze Logar, Erik Lovko, Živko Marušič, Franc Mesarič, Zoran Mušič, Silvan Omerzu, Miha Perne, France Peršin, Štefan Planinc, Marij Pregelj, Maksim Sedej ml., Marjan Skumavc, Ana Sluga, Gabrijel Stupica, Matej Stupica, Miha Štrukelj, Maruša Šuštar, Marko Šuštaršič, Milena Usenik, Sašo Vrabič, Uroš Weinberger
From today's perspective, all epochs are generally considered important, even turning points, frequently times of crisis, often unbearably difficult and unrelenting. Nowadays, this is no exception, for we live in a time when long-established systems and many values have been shattered or are no longer valid. The current crises, from the changes in climate to the centres of war, put us in fear and anxiety, in restlessness and in a sense of spiritual sterility and intellectual paralysis, so that without the right orientation, we often find ourselves in an alienated world. There is no doubt that existentialism is regaining importance today as a philosophy of times of crisis or as a reaction to times of crisis. It already appeared in rudiments in antiquity and the Middle Ages, but above all in modern existentialist thought of the last century.
The alienated state of mind and other present-day forms of hopelessness have determined the conception and selection of works for the group exhibition of Slovenian art, which presents 32 artists with works ranging from the second half of the last century to the present day. Figurative tendencies have manifested themselves in Slovenian art in specific individual artistic phenomena, art directions and languages, such as existential figurativeness, expressive figuration, fantastic art, pop art, photorealism and hyperrealism, the new image and the art of reinterpreting the world of new media, influenced by the rise of information and communication technology and the presence of electronic media and media-transmitted images.
The selected cross-section of individual pictorial languages and poetics comprises works by those artists who, in their oeuvre as a whole or, more rarely, at certain stages of development, have depicted both the real and the metaphysical world in a more or less mimetic way. The exhibition takes a look at the figurative language of art because, in contrast to abstract expression, it reflects reality much more directly through the rational, concrete and real. This is shown either in portraits or in various relationships to the world, such as the urban environment or the landscape, or as a form of conscious or unconscious cognition on the imaginative level. The individual pictorial vocabularies can be traced in a range from the autobiographical to the politically engaged and socially critical, to utopian and poetic subjective authorial confessions.
The process of selecting the works by individual artists and the considerations of the set-up itself led to the decision that the exhibition has neither a chronological concept, nor is it arranged in a time-based order that establishes generational or stylistic connections, nor are the works grouped according to individual artists. Rather, dialogical connections are made between different artists of different ages, artistic poetics and sensibilities, so that a single work or works by one artist can appear in different contexts and dialogues with works by other artists. The exhibition's narrative is established through the selected works by means of similar or mutually exclusive motifs, metaphorical connections, critical interpretations and even colour complementarity or contrast. The selection of works was made during studio visits, and the works of the deceased artists are on loan from the collections of Slovenian museums and galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana, Maribor Art Gallery, Božidar Jakac Gallery, City Museum of Ljubljana, Škofja Loka Museum, Antikvitete Novak Gallery, NLB Art Collection and some private collections.
The studio visits afforded us a glimpse of numerous small-format works, either complete works or only preparatory sketches, drafts and notes, so we decided to include these works in the exhibition, in the corridors of the gallery spaces that allow a more intimate viewing of the works. The paintings and drawings are shown here as complete composition sets of works by individual artists, offering a glimpse into a kind of "excerpt" from the artists' studios, intimate notes or additional material for understanding the artists' working processes and intimate reflections that are rarely shown in public.
The exhibition of figurative art, from important representatives of Slovenian existentialist art of the post-war period to contemporary figurative approaches, does not present a historical cross-section of this type of art in Slovenia, but uses selected examples to draw attention to different artistic approaches – from the "dark modernism" and its derivatives to reflections of brighter, wittier and more optimistic processes and practices, as well as engaged personal perspectives and critical reflections on the world and the environment today.
Alenka Gregorič, Mateja Podlesnik, curators