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THE LAND OF ISTRIA

Looking at Istria, its fields, arable land and small towns in the paintings of Hari Ivančić, I recall the beautiful lines by Tin Ujević from the poem, Produženi svijet (Extended World):

The old country complains for being so small,
The small country moves forward soundlessly in space
The old country once more the homeland of ideals,
and the fable of the country reaches to the washed edges of heaven

We can, of course, mourn or complain about the fact that someone’s homeland is small, quiet or soundless. But, each plot of land in our life is also our only framework, and it depends on human or spiritual strength whether that narrow place or brief moment will become a sanctified corner or touch the edges of fable, the only gateway to heaven. Fear and enthusiasm in the world as it is turn a man into a builder. A builder is one who approaches the specific world according to his own measure. He builds a church from prayer, he turns the earth to make it fertile, from a feeling of proportion he puts together the sounds of words and the sounds of instruments in the space and time of poetry and music.

When that builder is an artist like Hari Ivančić, he builds impressions of the world that surrounds him onto and into the surface of his work. An artist is a sensitive builder of a visual space. By his efforts, he questions and measures three things: shapes in their environment, the shapes of the individual’s own space, and the picture itself, which is a field with a specific principle of order.

I believe that Ivančić would sign his name to the truth expressed by Paul Valery: “The smallest real object has more “dimension” that anyone’s spirit”. Ivančić is a careful observer of the innumerable dimensions of things. He does not invent, but with composed attention, he reveals the as yet undiscovered faces of his surroundings. With analytical movements he measures the differences of various artistic sizes. In well-measured drawings he builds his figures; in the well measured relationships between stereometric shapes he builds a space; with the same equal emotional measure he distributes light and dark, and finally he weighs the chromatic relationships, warm and cold, and he gives their values planar and stereometric structure.

These analytical activities take place simultaneously, so these separate actions are none other than the synthesis or composition of various functions into the unity of the picture, which, in the lack of a more precise expression, we call experience.

The dimensions of a real object, which Valery is talking about, are the features of its structure. With Ivančić the flat and spatial forms serve to interpret the character of an extensive object. This is precisely why Hari’s paintings are not a copy, but the free composition of an experience, with the help of carefully selected elements of the artistic register. Ivančić is an artistic builder; he builds his impression using artistic means and personally determines their measure, weight and reason. The French writer mentioned above also notes that some buildings are silent, others speak, and some of them sing. Those are buildings of beauty and precise acoustics.

Standing before Ivančić’s artistic constructions, we feel that they have been created by a careful observer of artistic relations and that precisely those relationships are the permanent motif of his work.

The formal characteristics of Ivančić’s pictures, which I have spoken about, would be merely playfulness with an artistic puzzle, if at their base there were not deeper, as mentioned by Gorka Ostojić-Cvajner: “The artist is, that is to say, actually obsessed with the soil and territory from which he originates and in which he works, so his passion is to make concrete the characteristics of his area, his homeland, his birthplace.”

Thereby the old land of Istria becomes one more ideal homeland, presented in these works of art.

Mladen PEJAKOVIĆ, December 1999
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