19.02.2016. - 19.03.2016.

Duje Šuvar / Vid Vučak

This year’s exhibition programme dedicated to young artists from Velika Gorica opens with an exhibition featuring two academic artists: Vid Vučak and Duje Šuvar. Vid Vučak graduated from the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Arts of the University of Split in 2009. Until recently, he mostly specialized in memorial and portrait sculpture, while a new cycle of his work is going to be exhibited in Galženica Gallery. Duje Šuvar graduated from the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2008 and from the Department of Restoration and Conservation at the same Academy in 2011. His approach to painting can be described as (Photo)realist, exploring the themes ranging from urban everyday life to Christianity.

 
Nostalgic picture of the city

Do you remember the fashion tailors, clockmakers, purse workshops, barbers and hairdressers for men, quilt workshops?These are the old crafts that in our time have lost their function, that have become unnecessary, and the spaces in which those old workshops used to be have become just a pale neglected image, disappearing scenes without lustre. Do we even notice those run-down places whose signs with their calligraphy letters have been ravaged by time? Our time that passes too quickly does not need those old skills, because who goes to a clockmaker, dressmaker or a purse maker these days when all one needs one can find in a shopping centre – the temple of the consumer society. The sight of those run-down places with their signs has become the main theme of the set of images of a young academic painter Duje Šuvar.

Similar to a modern archaeologist, Duje Šuvar observes and dissects the city. He finds visually interesting places and records them with his camera, which, in his hands, becomes a tool for sketching, instead of a sketchpad and a pencil. Using computer programs, he transformed and processed those records – photographs, in order to ultimately make them look more like the classic painting. By analysing recorded and computer-processed parts, he spontaneously creates a recomposition of the city in the combined technique of acrylic and oil on canvas.

Duje Šuvar’s scenes of the city do not appear static, that is, we will almost always find the occasional passer-by who completes that different picture of the city which is laced with nostalgia. A softened palette of colours also contributes to it. The painter makes his disappearing scenes with softened tones of green, blue, yellow and pink, But somewhere the colours on Duje’s paintings intensify the whole scene making them the contrast to urban greyness and brown colours. Compositionally, everything comes down to a relationship empty-full, and to the combination of monotonous surfaces and realistic details. The clarity of the foreground, where the characters are mostly younger passers-by, is in contrast to the vague image in the second plan, where Duje places dilapidated space. Because of all that, Duje Šuvar has successfully distanced himself from just a mere documentary function of his paintings. His aim was to draw attention of the observers to the parts of the city that most often go unnoticed because of their poor condition. With his successful visual speech, Duje manages to give the city a new radiance. He also made selected parts of the city aesthetically interesting again, even attractive. Pastel colours, especially pink, are colours that are not only attracted to girls, but adult women and men as well. Pink is the colour that has long been sending a message that we need to think pink, wear pink clothes or wear a pink ribbon around our necks with the latest model of mobile phones. But, what about the city? Once the painted parts of the city disappear in order to be transformed into some new and ultra-trendy spaces, the old ones will remain forever recorded and remembered in Duje’s paintings. In this way, his paintings have become a memory of the city.

With his set of paintings, “Disappearing Scenes,” Duje Šuvar proved himself as a mature artist who approaches painting with a fortuitous combination of classic and modern. He uses the best of both worlds to make the observers of his paintings more active. Not wanting to define clearly the whole scene, Duje leaves it to the viewer to connect it in one’s own mind. In his paintings, forgotten times become reality, and in the minds of observers, that time is prolonged.

I am sure that Duje Šuvar will continue to draw our attention through his paintings to visually interesting sites of our city. Given the fact that the paintings of this set have been the result of years- long gradual work and observation, it will be interesting to see what Duje Šuvar will paint for us in the future.

Maja Burger (Zagreb, 10 February 2010)

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A Play of Structures (Sculptural Installation)

At the beginning of the war-torn 1990s, being one of the members of the jury at a children's art competition, amongst hundreds of submitted works, I noticed an unusual abstract pencil drawing, different in form and content from all the others that we had received. Instead of the expected images from the standard register of children's iconography, the surface of the achromatic A4 paper was dominated by an expressive graphic form saturated by the blackness of thick graphite lines which, according to the author, represented the dark veil covering the traumatized image of “the fear of war.” Perhaps it wouldn’t have caught my attention if this hadn’t been a drawing of a then seven-year-old boy, now an academic sculptor Vid Vučak who, using limited materials, managed to suggestively interpret his experience of fear as a metaphor within the pervasive cataclysm of war. From a child’s perspective and using a very simple technique of abstracting the surface with graphite, he succeeded in expressing the general state of anxiety which perfectly outlined the psychology of fear in a manner which surpassed the usual register of children's iconography.

On the other hand, it seems that this drawing from his childhood has, to some extent, anticipated his predispositions as a future sculpture and paved the way for some key presuppositions which have significantly marked his later works with a distinctive sensibility for primarily sculptural and spatial solutions in relation to stylized drawing, reduced sculptural form and the organic structure of art work. Within the totality of his oeuvre, this generically diverse and specific art discourse has manifested itself ranging from: traditional figurative forms and (mostly contracted works) true-to-life public sculptures, classic portraits and busts of contemporaries and prominent individuals, the symbolic figures from modern national history (A.G.Matoš, F.Kuharić, A.Stepinac…) and the history of Christianity (St. Francis and the birds, John Paul II…), to visually and aesthetically abstract reminiscences and purely sculptural inquires into a variety of materials such as wood, sanded Styrofoam and iron bars in the form of a relief or wire sculptures and spatial installations.

However, this seemingly pluralistic approach observed in the implementation of different techniques and materials in the formative phase of this artist is more a consequence of wanting to solve his existential problems and size up his own abilities by testing the various potentials of form in the process of shaping his own artistic expression than it is a clearly defined decision reached through systematic research of the visual arts phenomena in contemporary art. Since the very beginning, he has honoured the modernist tradition of a solid figurative sculptural form but, at the same time, he has never denounced the creative act of using new materials or conceded to have his work classified within the rigid dichotomized framework of figurative and abstract art. Rather, he decided to establish his creative foothold within a more flexible and reversible relationship between the dense, fully closed volumes and the open and linear wire structure. Within this unlimited space of freedom of expression in which the material (commercial) aspect does not exclude the conceptual or artistic dimension of a sculpture, Vučak’s incessant search for new and different approaches to solid materials has opened up new possibilities for expanding the discourse of sculpture regarding spatialized drawings, sculptures or installations which contradict the classic concept of volume, enacting the drawing from the beginning of our story.

This is exactly what is expressed in Vučak’s spatial concept of the wire sculptures displayed in the form of a hanging installation on his first solo exhibition at Galženica Gallery. This is a new project in the making which addresses the basic issues of modern sculpture, language and form through spatial relations of lines, volumes, light and movement. Through combining a series of elements – raw pieces of wire cut at the same length – and welding them together in an abstract organic whole, the artist, mastering the discipline of improvisation, shows his propensity for intricate compositions and eccentric interweaving of varying forms and structures tamed within a solid organization of an interior space.

In contrast with some of his earlier classic figurative works (portraits, busts, human figures) in which he portrayed and modelled historical figures, in his new works – free-form wire sculptures – he engages in a process of dissolving solid volumes in a sculptural form of a spatial drawing which thereby evokes the dynamic qualities and visual phenomena of kinetic art. The aesthetics of traditional sculpture expressed via malleable materials (clay, plaster) have been replaced with a modern approach of constructing and assembling linear iron elements into an abstract skeletal structure, producing an expressionist visual experience of playful and dynamic forms in space. This visual chaos of constructive elements made from solid linear webs of intersecting wire, hung at the centre of the gallery, only reinforces the impression of interactivity by offering a multitude of perceptions and focal points, the contrasting of light and shadow, rounded in a unique and visually mobile whole where the surrounding space and the space between form an integral part of the sculpture. Radicalizing the relationship between mass and statics, his sculptures have thus no volume or contours nor do they characterize the space. They expand and condense into abstract biomorphic structures which, like lines of force, penetrate the space through threatening dramatic rhythms and vortexes of floating formations, exceeding their actual dimensions and producing a variety of physical reactions while staging a show for our senses.

In this exhibition, Vučak most certainly ventures into a new form of contemporary sculpture which, with its mutable forms and the choice of materials, equally relies on the active participation of the gallery space as well as of its audience. Vučak’s work, created with limited materials, a minimum of the artist’s intervention and by merging and intertwining of multiple ready-made elements, asserts itself as a unified whole in a form of an impressive sculptural installation within which the interior and exterior, its physical structure and its illusionary composition, the bodily and optical experiences, and finally, sculpture and painting, overlap and become one and the same. It is in this overlapping and the dissolution of differences where we find solid grounds and a creative potential for a successful continuation of this interesting adventure in sculpture.

Radovan Vuković (Zagreb, 6 February 2016)

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Duje Šuvar was born in 1983 in Zagreb. He graduated in paintinig at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2008. At the same school he graduated at the Department of Art Restoration and Conservation in 2011. From October 2010 to January 2011, he resided in Krakow as part of Ceepus student exchange programs where he was listening courses on conservation and restoration of images.He has exhibited in several group and in three solo exhibitions. Since 2009, he is member of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists. He lives and works in Zagreb.

Vid Vučak was born in 1983 Zagreb  He graduated in sculpture at the Art Academy in Split 2009. He is author of more then 30 monuments and busts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada and USA. This is his first solo show. He lives and works in Velika Gorica.