27.02.2015. - 29.03.2015.

Jelena Bando / Ivan Prerad, The Other

Throughout the history, the relationship between different civilisations has been marked by incomprehension and conflicts rather than by curiosity and cooperation. Relying on the concept of the Other, within the Western civilisation there is an entire field of science dealing with that relationship. To put it very simply, the Other is anyone or anything that cannot be explained through the familiar, established value system. The encounter with the Other is always preceded by a long, strenuous journey, whether a real or imaginary one. When it comes to Marco Polo's, Christopher Columbus's, James Cook's or the Seljan brothers' encounter with the Other, we know almost everything. When it comes to Jelena Bando's and Ivan Prerad's encounter with the Other, we will discover something at this exhibition.

In the history of Modern art, the Other played a short, but prominent role. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the so-called primitive art of the African, Oceanian and Far Eastern peoples changed the manner in which we observe the world through the works of European artists. Whether it is the influence of Japanese prints on the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, the Gauguin's portrayal of life in the Polynesian islands or the influence of African masks on Picasso's art – e.g. on the key painting of European avant-garde "The Young Ladies of Avignon" – each time, we witness the fruitful contact of European art with the art of the so-called New World.

In the age of technological globalisation and instant communication, what is the destiny of the Other? What is happening with the cultures of other and far-away peoples today? Is it possible that the Other has lost its exotic identity nowadays? Having conquered, measured, mapped and digitalised the "New World", how do we Europeans see it today?

The paintings by Jelena Bando and Ivan Prerad presented in this exhibition imply that there is still some latent and creative tension between different cultures. But even more than that, maybe the paintings of these young artists suggest to us that the Other, either real or made up, is something without which the art would not make too much sense.

Jelena Bando was born in 1988 in Zagreb. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2012. She spent time on study visits in Germany (Wurzburg, Berlin) and Paris. She held eight solo exhibitions in Croatia, Germany and France and participated in twenty collective exhibitions in the country and abroad. She won two awards for drawing and graphic arts (SKC Gallery, Belgrade; 15. drawings biennale, Belgrade).

Ivan Prerad (1988, Zagreb). He enrolled to painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (2008) and earned the academic title of Bachelor in fine arts in painting (2012). He finished the graduate study of painting in the class of professor Zoltan Novak (2014). He held two solo exhibitions and participated in several collective exhibitions and art workshops and won the Erste Grand Prix award (2013).

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Jelena Bando and Ivan Prerad's exhibition is a result of their individual research based on their personal experiences of the encounters with the Other, that is, with the Other's culture. In Paris, Jelena Bando got acquainted with the work of an association of immigrants from Guadalupe Island and, gradually, after spending some time with them, she began working on a series of nudes. After taking some time to distance herself from the painted nudes, she returned to her work which she now situates in an imaginary scenery, thus further developing her gaze of the Other. Ivan Prerad uses visual materials alluding to the space of New Zealand, primarily Maori culture. Although he spent a part of his life in New Zealand, Ivan is not interested in providing explicitly personal reflections but he mostly collages mediated visual representations of Maori culture.

Actually, both artists speak out on the process of constructing the gaze directed towards the Other, openly playing with subjective interpretations of the acquired visual symbols whose meaning is not fixed but subjected to immediate recontextualization. The need for unrestricted research drives Jelena in her deconstruction of the rigid form of the nude, while Ivan is intrigued by creating spatial relations between painted visual representations of Maori culture. The image of the Other is simultaneously being created and questioned through a personal prism and, thus, by gazing at and representing the Other we redefine our own preconceived views and opinions.

Dark skinned naked bodies in Jelena Bando's paintings are transferred from another space and time into the abstract natural environment which symbolically designates the space of Jelena's imagination. Wild and unbridled vegetation, but also imaginary interiors clearly reveal her associations to the exotic Other whose representation in the paintings actually escapes our gaze. The artist prevents us from fixating our perception of the Other; she does not let us perceive the body as a whole making it appear elusive and somewhat unreal by weaving together the body and the surreal environment. On one hand, we are presented with a stereotypical representation of the body of the Other, and on the other hand, the same representation gets dissipated.

Ivan Prerad is interested in an almost factual transfer of artefacts, documents and images related to the space of Maori culture. However, he takes them out of their broader context, transmits them individually onto the canvas and, then, creates a spatial intervention by collaging them. The installation of twenty-one paintings is made up of images of museum artefacts as evidence of Maori material culture. They are juxtaposed with fragments of painted landscapes, plants, animals and local flags aiming to bring about an authentic materialization of Maori culture. Nonetheless, it is precisely through the spatial displacement that those fragments as tangible evidence are somewhat relativized and taken for granted in order to enable their free circulation emptied of meaning.

The exhibition The Other spontaneously unites Jelena Bando's and Ivan Prerad's recent art works whose interests get intertwined and manifested through a joint and unhindered creation of possible representations of Others. At a micro-level, these artists attempt to offer an insight into their own perception of the image of the Other, characterized as fluid and mutable. Therefore, this exhibition symptomatically points to the often elusive, yet ubiquitous tendency of visual appropriation. (Lea Vene)