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Slovenian contemporary art and works of Alan Hranitelj in Brussels

Last week, the Slovenian Minister of Culture, Vasko Simoniti, opened two exhibitions to mark the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council.

Exhibition by Alan Hranitelj at the headquarters of the Council of the European Union in Brussels

A retrospective exhibition of works from the rich oeuvre by Slovenian costume designer Alan Hranitelj who has been working in the field of opera, theatre and film for over 30 years, was opened on 13 July 2021, in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels. 

The exhibition, which is not only a celebration of costume design, but also an example of exceptional sculptural and painterly imagination, offers an insight into the Mad Hatter’s Wardrobe and an endless colourful world of clothing. 20 out of 36 display cases from the exhibition are on show.

The Mad Hatter's Wardrobe exhibition was opened by the Slovenian Minister of Culture, Vasko Simoniti, and the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen.

The exhibition, which is not only a celebration of costume design, but also an example of exceptional sculptural and painterly imagination, offers an insight into the Mad Hatter’s Wardrobe and an endless colourful world of clothing. 20 out of 36 display cases from the exhibition are on show.

Alan Hranitelj, whose opus comprises over 400 costume designs and collaborations in different art projects, designed the exhibition in collaboration with the top Slovenian set designer Marko Japelj. The creations, which cross over from costume design to different worlds of art and combine seemingly incompatible motives, reflect the imaginary world of an artist committed to eternal beauty.

Hranitelj has won numerous awards for his work, both at home and abroad. In 2020, he received the highest national award for cultural achievements, the Prešeren Fund Award, for his retrospective exhibition Parallel Worlds 2006–2019, which showcased his work over that period.

The Mad Hatter's Wardrobe shows the author's insight into the infinitely colourful world of patterns, materials, structures and reflections. The author has created an entire universe from classic, mostly monochromatic men's shirts, waistcoats, ties, shoes, hats and cuff links. He upgraded, modified and completed his existing fabric samples with various geometric shapes using computer technology. They intertwine with numerous images drawn from the plant and animal world. Each piece comes alive within its own pattern. With the help of duplication and mirrors they seem to undulate in all directions, having a magical and psychedelic effect on our senses. They take us to parallel worlds.

In the making of The Mad Hatter's Wardrobe, costume designer Hranitelj has outdone himself by combining the artisanal perfectionism of handicraft and his exceptional artistic skills. Indeed, the artist, in his own unique and recognisable way, expresses the EU motto “united in diversity”.

The Mad Hatter's Wardrobe is on show until 31 December 2021. The other 16 display cases can be viewed at a photo exhibition in the Europa building featuring all 36 display cases.

A retrospective exhibition of works from the rich oeuvre by Slovenian costume designer Alan Hranitelj who has been working in the field of opera, theatre and film for over 30 years. | Author Marko Japelj

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The Slovenian contemporary fine art exhibition at the European Parliament

The Slovenian contemporary fine art exhibition entitled We Live in Interesting Times opened on 12 July 2021, at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The curator of the exhibition, the Slovenian Marko Košan, prepared a selection of works by thirteen Slovenian artists who, in the midst of the present-day flood of visual images from mass media, are looking for new forms of painterly, sculptural and photographic expression aimed at exploring new utopias of our (uncertain) future. The exhibition was opened by the Slovenian Minister of Culture, Vasko Simoniti, and the Chair of the European Parliament's Artistic Committee, Karol Karski.

The works of painters Suzana Brborović, Nina Čelhar, Tina Dobrajc, Mito Gegič, Aleksij Kobal, Ana Sluga, Miha Štrukelj, Sašo Vrabič, Uroš Weinberger and Joni Zakonjšek "illustrate the way in which painting today is searching for its contemporary form in the conflict between the visual codes of mass media and the subjectivity of painterly expression", writes Marko Košak in the exhibition catalogue. Suggestive images on canvas raise questions on the death or survival of painting, the relationship between the original and its copy, and the position of the creator in today’s world when "faced with the relentless dictates of the mass media and its tools of petty, insipid mass culture and the dominance of digitally generated images in everyday life".

Similar can be said of the works of photographers Herman Pivk and Uroš Abram, as digitalisation has led photography, the dominant means of expression in contemporary visual arts, to open up a path for the misuse of images. These two photographers are one of the many excellent Slovenian artists who suggestively and convincingly resolve the conundrums in which photography has found itself due to the "crisis of the real". The works of Uroš Abram, for example, deal with the relationship between the photographic image and the hyperproduction of the visual, explored through the concept of gluttony, which is one of the seven deadly sins.

In addition to works of painters and photographers, the works of sculptor Lujo Vodopivec will also be presented at the exhibition. His two sculptures are metaphors for human longing, which, in modern times, sooner or later becomes connected to a symbolic electronic intravenous line, via which hopes fade and dreams wither. At times, Vodopivec's work is prophetic: he made his Virus sculpture in 2010, long before the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Košan is convinced that "it is the role of the artist to reveal the twisted, shocking phenomena of the modern world and to be an exposed sensor for the awakened collective consciousness of humanity".

At the opening of the exhibition, Slovenian Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti highlighted that of all the genres of contemporary art, it is precisely in the visual arts that we can find extraordinary diversity and an exceptional coexistence of forms, which is less characteristic of other arts. According to Minister Simoniti, this might be the reason why fine art, with its extraordinary diversity, forms a kind of living democratic laboratory, constantly creating a plurality of expressions and ideas.

The exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška in Slovenj Gradec and the European Parliament.

The exhibition is on show until 31 December 2021. As there will be limited access to the exhibition due to the measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, the exhibition can also be viewed online on the website of the Slovenian Ministry of Culture.