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THE EARTH’S CRUST, THE EARTH’S SKIN

Starting with a panoramic view of Istrian towns, extracting the crystal of their essence and by synthesis of the pyramidal agglomerations on the tops of hills, the artist Hari Ivančić has been systematically and exclusively painting his experience of his home soil, the earth of Istria, for a decade now. If his sights were set high from the very beginning, looking down from a “bird’s eye view” on selected villages and distant houses, with only a cypress tree here and there in the neighbourhood, to serve as orientation, gradually his gaze became directed towards the landscape, looking at the surface of the earth face to face, and he did away with any form of reference to the setting or the wider air. Ivančić’s paintings very decisively gained an exceptional coherence; all that was shown in them was in the foreground, in a flat projection, without any suggestion of background, distance or depth.

We could perhaps add that, in way of compensation in his compositions the role of pigment became gradually stronger, the relief of layers of paint and the emphasized contrast between the plots of land took on the function of bringing dynamics to the surface. His love for the motif of the land was moved by a sense of the similarity between working an artist’s canvas and turning a fertile field. True, he is not ploughing or digging with either a brush or a spade, but as a analogy the furrows and ridges turn on the canvas as he turns the layers of material, whilst under the sun, the meadows and arable land are given a new appearance and receive the abundant life of changes in light, under the hand of the artistic creator of the composition, who selects elements on the canvas, offering us the organic vitality of harmonized chromatic relationships.

Already in his urban panoramas, Hari Ivančić had a good sense of how a flat surface is not necessarily monotonous or unambiguous. Painting the walls of old houses, he also knew how to interpret their instability and amphibious nature in an appropriate manner. That is to say, behind their current form, there was a hint of the past, the patina pealing off them indicated the logic of “long life” and the factor of the involvement of time. The poetics of the informal evaluated appropriately the tension between what is seen and existence, in fact it gave special place to the ambiguity of worn and decaying reality.

Definitely turning to his mother Gaea, in the form of his native Istria, Hari Ivančić successfully brought together both universal and regional impulses. Choosing meadows and plains, fields and borders also meant respect for surveying, the geodetic basis and geometrical premises of organization of space. Therefore he nurtured the autonomy of the painting using “abstract landscape” structural trends, close to Poliakoff and De Stael (not the geometrically radical, constructively strict lines of Mondrian or Mortensen) – and more locally Gliha and Šimunović. However, since in so doing he continued to insist on his own strong personal fingerprint, the temperament of his work and the affective value of his ductus, supported by his strong use of colour, his art retained the lyrical “Taschist” component, and in a way sums up the experience of modernist pictorial art.

Ivančić’s genius loci was given a seal of cosmic scale, and as a result became recognizable in cosmopolitan, foreign circles as the pars pro toto. The intensity of the juxtaposition of belts of colour, the dynamic weaving of horizontal, vertical and diagonal forces, the power of the layering and friction of the variety of substance, all together formed the artistic persuasion of the artist’s idiom. His endeavours are still moving in the direction of energetic submission of what is seen to the power of personal interpretation and the homogeneity of the emanating of the light from the landscape in focus. Nataša Šegota Lah long ago emphasized the metrics and matrixes, the majesty and mythical nature of Ivančić’s creativity, and for our part, we would add the materiality and monumental nature, the methodical and metamorphosis of the subject.

In his endeavour to further analyse his experience of the landscape and understanding of the work of the artist as an integral process, Hari Ivančić, initially accidently and unintentionally, recently opened up quite a crack in his system, even a literal perforation and cut into the tissue of the picture. That is to say, by slicing the canvas, the lower layer was revealed, or, literally, the backdrop, that is a surface that had already been used, a surface that had been worked on before. Where this artist is concerned, it certainly was not a conceptual breakthrough following on from Fontana’s gestures of cutting textures in order to break through to the “other side”, in the sense of the other side of the artist in general. Where Ivančić’s ripping and cutting the canvas is concerned, it becomes vital curiosity regarding contrast and the fruitful confrontation of two phases, two layers or two entities of the painting. Taking hold of chance, including a certain aleatoric element and surprise, our artist accepted this as an opportunity and a challenge to enrich the balance, to attempt a true deepening of the demanding questions of the life of forms.

In following on many occasions the growth and development of the artistic opus of Hari Ivančić, we have appreciated with good reason the moderation and connection between its changes. We take this present move forward too as an act of evolution rather than a radical twist, because we believe in the justification of his decisions, which do not close the door to the cycles and spirals of maturation on the basis of tradition and on the ground of what is already his own expressive heritage. We believe that he will not abandon his affective starting point and the measure of artistic sensitivity he has shown, and thereby will confirm his already well-established place in new Croatian art.

Tonko MAROEVIĆ, June 2010
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