04.02.2015. - 04.02.2015.

35th Anniversary

This year, Galženica gallery marks its 35th anniversary. The gallery was founded in 1980 within Long-life learning center Juraj Kokot as a non-profit gallery aimed at encouraging and development of visual arts in Zagreb or, more precisely, Velika Gorica as a Zagreb municipality with an increasing number of inhabitants.

Situated in the building of the so-called Cultural centre in a newly-built housing estate, together with a cinema and a library, the gallery quickly integrated into the tradition of Zagreb culture centres that dedicated a significant portion of their activities to visual culture. Velika Gorica gained city status in 1995, so Galženica gallery became the only institution of its kind in the city.

During the 35 years of its work, more than 240 art exhibitions and other events have been organised, featuring over 300 national and foreign artists, art critics, curators and designers. In an informal periodisation or interpretation of Croatian museums and galleries, the work of Galženica gallery might be presented from various synchronic and diachronic perspectives.

For example: under the leadership of the first gallery director, art historian Radovan Vukovic, gallery's programme was primarily focused on the so-called "New Painting" phenomenon on one hand and the phenomenon of caricature as a distinctive artistic form on the other hand. During the '80s and the first half of '90s, a series of young painters and caricaturists was established, some of them through solo and others through collective exhibitions: Zlatan Vrkljan, Marijana Muljević, Vatroslav Kuliš, Eugen Kokot, Srećko Puntarić, Mojmir Mihatov, etc. The second half of the '90s saw a turn towards the new generation of artists and different media. Truth be told, many of them were painters (Lovro Artuković, Duje Jurić, Tomislav Buntak, Matko Vekić, etc.), but the artists interested in various forms of ambient installations (Ivana Franke, Nika Radić, Ante Jerković, Jelena Perić, Mirjana Vodopija, Danko Friščić, Ana Kadoić, etc.) were represented more and more frequently.

The arrival of the new gallery director, art historian and curator Klaudio Štefančić, marked a partial change in gallery's programme orientation. The special attention was still paid to young artists, thus the gallery had a prominent role in the establishment of Marko Tadić, Zlatan Vehabović, Kristina Lenard, Ines Matijević, Ivana Fijolić and other artists. The news in the programme was related to establishing the reputation of art and culture of the new media, as well as the attempt at articulation of socio-critical art through the form of strictly curated international exhibitions. In the period from 2008 to 2011, based on an international call for proposals, the exhibitions organised were dedicated to new media (2008), the globalisation phenomenon (2009), the relationship between art and activism (2010) and the relationship between art and design (2011).

The gallery has established the reputation of New media culture in two manners: by using the Web 2.0 (Wiki, Flickr, Delicious, etc.) in its everyday work and by organising exhibitions dedicated to (new)media art. As regards the former, Galženica gallery was the first museum and gallery institution in Croatia that made its museum collection – registered with the Register of Museums, Galleries and Collections of the Republic of Croatia – available online and that systematically implemented network tools and network aesthetics in its daily operation. [http://www.mgz.hr/UserFiles/file/Sojat-Bikic_Maja_Web_2_0_IM_42_1-4_2011.pdf]

As regards the latter, the assets of the gallery have been systematically invested in the production and recognition of the (new)media art on both domestic and international level, no matter if it was the exhibition "New media and young Croatian artists" organised in 2003, together with the accompanying international symposium covering the topic of the relationship between the artistic education and new technologies; or the co-production of the first two Device art festivals in Velika Gorica in 2004 and 2006; or the organisation of the retrospective exhibition "New media – new networks" featuring the culture and art of the new media in Croatia or solo exhibitions of famous media artists such as Ivan Marušić Klif, Dan Oki and Sandro Đukić.

Ever since the beginning of its work, the gallery has also placed a special emphasis on artists renowned both in the country and abroad, so some of the most famous Croatian artists of the second half of the 20th century Ivan Kožarić, Edo Murtić, Miroslav Šutej, Ferdinand Kulmer, Nives Kavurić Kurtović, Đuro Seder, Zlatko Keser, Boris Bučan, Sanja Iveković, Vlado Martek and others have exhibited in the gallery.

In addition, the gallery placed a special emphasis on the local context of its work. On one hand, it promoted artists from Velika Gorica whose work could have found its place even on national scene (Slavko Peršić, Mate Lovrić, Andrea Robić, Zlatko Odrčić, Danijel Šokec and others), while on the other hand it dealt with the issue of urban identity of Velika Gorica in the form of associates' projects and strictly curated exhibitions. What is a city and how it manifests itself on the example of this sixth largest city in Croatia; what is its relationship with Zagreb; are there certain urban patterns specific to Velika Gorica, etc.? – are just some of the questions we have tried to answer together with the artists and citizens of Velika Gorica.

And so, in a way, a circle is closed. Starting with the accusations of provincialism and pretentiousness in mid-1980s, when the "metropolitan" press publicly attacked the gallery because of its bilingual catalogue (Croatian, French), to exhibitions reviewed on prestigious web portals (Rhizome.org, 2008); from local to global phenomena, from small to big exhibitions and projects, with the help of visitors, artists, journalists, curators, friends.

Tradition inspires and binds. Despite the dilapidated infrastructure of the building housing the gallery and the crisis affecting the entire society, Galženica gallery continues its work – for the benefit of the community and looking forward to the next anniversary.