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THE LAND REMAINS: THE MATRIX… THE METRIC… MAIEUTICS… THE MYTH

Contemporariness, it seems, removes the category of time from the process of observation, experience and witnessing the essence. We are fooled by time, or time has deceived us. We are not in harmony. Time has remained there somewhere, behind us. We are in a timeless zone of wandering, and artistic scepticism, instead of participating, we witness the value of memory. The essence and the being elude us, and the subject remains an anonymous being without any interaction with the world, caught in the trap of crazy acceleration and absolute technocracy. The machine is at war with creation, because by definition it produces in series, growing from the bed of a given program, instead of according to the nature of its creative intuition. Where is there a person, watching the world with slow observation? Where is there any space sufficient for alignment of the rhythm of the heart with the rhythm of nature, the space of authentic balance? Does the landscape still exist as a category of living immediacy? Do we feel in our eyes the vibrations of the living colour and in our senses its juices and gradations?L’homme témoin witnesses only the hysteria of his own resourcefulness in the world, which does not seem to care about man, or, perhaps, testifies of man who no longer cares about the world.

In this above all dark image of the state of things, the artist is the greatest casualty of his calling. His skill (technique) is left without the support of truth (aletheia). In that context the glorification of historical values is natural. Consciously or unconsciously, the potential of creativity strives to impregnate heritage. To build on it, as on life itself. This is a wearisome game, hard work, full of doubt and self-examination. As a result each newly occurring variation is questioned through the innumerable replication of the suggested possibilities it conceals. In that sense painting, not long after the end of the Second World War, moved along the path just laid by the fate of the world, which our generation holds in its hands as a confusing inheritance, amazed at a heritage that is so hard to follow.

Painting in the nineteen-sixties hurried with famous “aesthetic speed”, through “reduction” and “informality” and through cynical illustrativeness and all forms of intellectual intervention, finally, destroying all its authentic presumptions. Today people do not actually paint pictures, or they paint them in league with the past. Contemporary painters, who we believe or feel to be worthy of our attention, reanimate some historical suggestion. They do this through eclectic collections of entire series of historical derivatives, or, on the other hand, by systematic analysis of one of those sensed possibilities. The second case, which due to the exploratory approach I have mentioned, I would like to call “the analytical model”, is characterized by very productive cycles of entire series of similar pictures, where the series of these replicas differ from one another mainly in the realm of the internal dynamism of the use of artistic elements (colour, composition, scenes…).-

Hari Ivančić is one of the generation of artists caught in the contemporary crisis of painting and art in general. In the same way, he belongs to a group of artists who are passionate and determined, and above all stubborn in their exploration of the possibilities of survival within the realm of only one medium (used without hindrance). Hari Ivančić does not resort to experiments, multi-media exploration, quips, intellectual meandering. Of all contemporary vices, he will hold to only those forms of visual communication that are void of polemics, when it is a case of possibly more radical opposition to the regime of aesthetics full of expectation.

Having graduated from the Zagreb Art Academy, and when with incredible success he stepped out onto the artistic scene, and was accepted by the public and critics, producing a series of works, exhibitions and recognition, Ivančić presented himself in the quite small scale, metaphysical, flat construction, the interesting colours and statically convincing scheme of towns, as a form of the internal heart of belonging and a collecting place of impressions. Here the impressions in the panoramic habitat, from the very beginning hinted at his course towards the internal world of his subject. In a form of intimacy, or even a quite closed personality, with an ear ready for a refined sound, over time he respectfully stepped out of the given spaces of his figurative scenes, into the almost abstract field of his still recognizable predilection for landscape. His already existing tendency, as the genius loci of his imagination, was and remains the red soil of Istria. Ivančić the artist, slowly moving into change, still retains some of the features of his earlier paintings. The first of these is the composition. The interface of the surfaces and their rhythmically conceived relationship insinuates the only hinted at depth of the perspective. In the latest series he irresistibly invokes the deep rifts in the vertical perspective. Our trained gaze reads the layers of the surface of broad fields of earth, mixed with rocks. The scene never has a front or back, but as a rule it has upper and lower layers of life. They are never sorted as though lined up like a frieze, but as a static, firm construction of blocks of earth, which are potentially seismic, with light breaking through into their deepest depths. This illusion of light in the depths of the layers of the earth is sectioned into selected colour monoliths, indicating life that exists, that boils and flourishes within.

The field surfaces, divided in this way, giving each other dynamics through a variety of proportional values, different coloured grids and subtle play with the scope of the tonal scale, are again divided within themselves by vertical or diagonal stripes, zones, strokes and parcelled structural moves. The moves are as a rule calm, repeated, thickly placed layers of colour, with increasingly frequent tiny cracks of white, on which in places contrasting marks (smaller strokes) intervene.

This habit of the artist is certainly along the lines of his examination of the impression of his own natural environment, but it is also a well thought out polygon for expression of colour, as the most important artistic element of Ivančić’s artistic language. In these paintings all is subjective but leading to the external, universal principles of the construction. In these paintings, in the same way, everything is almost abstract, but also leading to the external, universal principles of a recognizable form. The soil, seen as earth, is the basis and support, the archetypal world of the subject and observer. The base. The beginning. Solid ground. Adorned by light, this principle of the firmness of the earth is decomposed into the sensual but also passionate principle of man’s eternal return to it.

I cannot avoid, in the end, the touch of the past and tradition. The body of models from the early European post-war period in the fifties and sixties of the past century. For example, early Antoni Tapies (not in terms of composition but in the structure of the artistic touch and a form of signature): “Corroded surfaces, cracks, half-naked landscapes convey a sense of layers of complexity … The painted surfaces appear to be worn out by their long existence … Manual processes shape the identity of forms determined by time, make elegance into the natural outcome of partial destruction …”

There is of course Nicolas de Stael here too, with his decorative-figurative coloured blocks of rhythmically organized squares, installed in a composition containing figurative connotations, his colours showing a high level of manoeuvring in the light of strong shades, the style, which in the end allows him to be seen figuratively, although at the same time it contains a particular tendency towards abstraction.

Hari Ivančić then, in a series of almost identical scenes, demolishes the monolith of his former closedness. With each new exhibition, the boundaries of artistic freedom are opened. He does this gradually, slowly, sometimes timidly, but as a rule we see the result in his solid and sure approach, which (I imagine) will be hard to detach from the landscape context. The land remains: the matrix… the metre… maieutics… the myth… Illumined, it glows in colour: a range of warm colours (like the sun) and a range of cold colours (like the moon) and a hinted range of artificial colour (like the internal testing of new possibilities).

Nataša ŠEGOTA LAH, May 2001
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