Artists and their work
Gluttony #12, 2014
Colour photography, slide film (4 x 5 cm), digital print on archival paper
2 x 142 x 110 cm (diptych)
© Uroš Abram
Courtesy Galerija Fotografija
Uroš Abram graduated from the Film and Photography School (FAMU) in Prague in 2010. Since 2013 he has worked for the Slovenian political weekly Mladina.
In a lengthy procedure akin to a performance, the author completely covered his home kitchen with photographs taken during his first three months as a photographer for the magazine Mladina. Five thousand or so photographs are displayed in the kitchen (he actually took around twenty thousand during this period), which is approximately the number of images posted on the internet every second. This kitchen stuffed with photographs speaks to the gluttony of our ego, whose insatiable self-image nowadays, to a large extent, feeds on and is created by the publishing of photographs. Abram photographed his ‘internet-saturated’ kitchen using a variety of photographic techniques, including some employed on his previous works, such as ‘camera-oralis’ (camera obscura by mouth), and ‘photographs with photographs’ where, in a kind of surplus of ‘gluttony’, he set up a simple camera obscura from the exhibited photographs with which he then photographed those same photographs.
Suzana Brborović (1988)
Bridge Countries – Connection, 2018
Acrylic and ink on canvas
220 x 180 cm
© Suzana Brborović
Suzana Brborović completed her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design (ALUO) in Ljubljana in 2013. During her studies she was awarded two major prizes: the ESSL Prize for Young Artists from Central and South-East Europe in 2011 and the Prešeren Award for Students in 2012. She continued her postgraduate studies at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts. She lives and works in Leipzig.
Brborović’s work focuses on architecture not just as a visually attractive motif, but as an immensely complex realm of social, economic, symbolic, historical and political dimensions. In her images, which are characterised by a highly distinctive, refined and precise aesthetic, she layers motifs to the point of saturation as a way of addressing a range of cultural and social phenomena and their problematic ideological, political and economic structure (e.g. the decay of architectural landscapes in transition societies, defensive architecture, property investment swallowing up social housing, etc.). In her latest series of work, Bridges, she explores the theme of the bridge as a key infrastructural element enabling communication, connection and mobility, thus capturing in the medium of painting an iconography of the most immediate global relevance.
Nina Čelhar (1990)
House VII, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
135 x 185 cm
© Nina Čelhar
Nina Čelhar studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, where she graduated in 2012. In 2018 she completed her master’s under Professors Marjan Gumilar and Jure Mikuž. She continued her training in 2013-14 at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig.
Čelhar’s works focus on architecture as the basic human living environment which, as an artificially constructed space, essentially determines human existence. The fruit of human activity and creativity, architecture is subordinate to humans; but at the same time it conversely dictates our everyday lives and movements, in a way controlling and directing our very existence. Čelhar’s painterly juxtapositions of architecture, both the exteriors of the contemporary functionalist concrete architecture and the minimalist interiors, appear as purified, abstracted, in fact semantically uncritical images. Čelhar’s stance is that of an observer: contemplating space and its details, noting the absence of people even though everything testifies to their presence, she creates works that, with a subtle and fragile painting technique on translucent ungrounded canvas, also testify to a conscious experimentation with the medium and its expressive possibilities and limitations.
Tina Dobrajc (1984)
That Winter at Home She had Become an Invisible Girl, 2019
Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
178 x 275 cm
© Tina Dobrajc
Courtesy Galerija Nova Gorica
Tina Dobrajc graduated in 2007 and completed a master’s in 2011 at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. She has had several solo exhibitions and also participated in group exhibitions. She has received a number of awards and recognitions.
Dobrajc creates a figurative world with exclusively female figures defined by symbols of national and folkloric belonging, symbols of a recognisable Slovene or Slavic Heimatkunst and mythology, women wearing the Gorenjska avba (the national costume headdress) in Alpine scenes as eminently depicted landscapes of national identification. But these figures are set within suggestive, ominous compositions with symbolic animals (wolves, black cats) and an uneasy atmosphere that evokes the aesthetic of a horror film. While the paintings have the appearance of staged scenes, their narration often seems unfinished and equivocal; left open to interpretation, they inevitably also suggest a condemnation of nationalism and of the unthinking acceptance of local traditions as signs of a narrow-minded, hostile, intolerant social reality.
Mito Gegič (1982)
4_35 AM, 2015
Acrylic and duct tape on canvas
180 x 165 cm
Mito Gegič participated in the CEEPUS exchange programme at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2006. He graduated in 2008 in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. He lives and works in Škofja Loka and Ptuj.
Gegič’s motifs are hunting scenes which he finds online and then formulates using his own realistic, glued-together technique as independent painting motifs in an unequivocally critical stance towards violence against animals and the domestic normalisation of hunting as a local/national phenomenon. His painting is defined by a shocking confrontation with violent, even sadistic images of tormented animals, mainly deer, captured at a distance (usually using automatic hunting cameras mounted at hunting locations) and a painstaking, time-consuming painterly ‘production’ of a painting with adhesive tape that transforms the pathological scene of animal suffering into an aestheticised art object. With this twist, Gegič reveals painting (or art) as a possible tool for the anaesthetisation of pathological violence, and its critical formulation as the only possible contemporary heir to the classical painting genre of still lifes with dead animals.
Aleksij Kobal (1962)
Oil on canvas
100 x 120 cm
© Aleksij Kobal
After completing secondary school in design, Aleksij Kobal graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana (1986), where he also completed his postgraduate studies in 1993. In 1999 he spent a two-month period as an artist-in-residence in Paris.
Kobal’s images focus on the materiality of the painterly facture, which represents a fertile humus for the continuous resurrection of forms, circulating and shuddering in an intense and materially rich painterly membrane that, formally and with concealed contextual messages, rises into spheres of a metaphorical address in the sense of a paean to creating and the beauty of creation. The infinite ripeness suggested by these images brings us closer to Kant’s interpretation of the emotional state he called the sublime, and the elusiveness of the images symbolises travel and a kind of escapism into the fantastical landscapes of parallel worlds even when they are commenting on current social and political events.
Herman Pivk (1963)
Night #011, 2005
Photo, mixed media on canvas, 1/1
148 x 100 cm
© Herman Pivk
After completing Secondary School for Design, Herman Pivk graduated in graphics from the Pedagogical Academy in Ljubljana (1987). Since 1989, he has been working as a freelance photographer.
With digitalisation, photography (the dominant medium of contemporary visual arts) has completely opened up the space for exploitation of the image. Pivk is one of many excellent Slovenian artists who suggestively and convincingly resolve the conundrums in which photography has found itself with the ‘crisis of the real’, which is a paradox of its own: after his unique photographic work sparked controversy over whether expressive compositions, given the secondary processing that takes place on a matrix of the negative in the darkroom, are even photographs any more, his manual manipulation of the processes making up the traditional photographic craft now appear to mark a noble return to the origins of the medium and its most compelling potential for visual communication. Herman Pivk is steadily developing a distinctive style, immersed in the characteristic ‘monochrome rust’ of the debris of an indefinable time, in which he follows his dark and mysterious imagination.
Ana Sluga (1981)
Acrylic and spray on canvas
148 x 194 cm
© Ana Sluga
Ana Sluga completed the Secondary School for Design and Photography in Ljubljana. In 1999, she enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, graduating from the painting department in 2004. She did a master’s in painting and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana and the Kunstiakadeemia in Tallinn, Estonia.
In recent years Sluga has increasingly focused on painting the material world, which has already been rendered obsolete by rapid development of production processes and therefore has a nostalgic value. Exploring the visual complexity of a given object, she transforms its univocality, giving it a range of semantic and symbolic significance. She often achieves this using the subtle technique of acrylic and spray on canvas and the process of isolating small objects, which become monumental symbols in such framing. Nonetheless, they remain fragile, always ambiguous in their significance, imbricated in allusion and suggestions and dependent on the viewer’s emotional and intellectual sensibility, that is to say their ability to experience the foreignness of an object as a universal state of human existence.
Miha Štruklj (1973)
Alley VIII, 2019
Acrylic, ink, pencil, duct tape on canvas
200 x 140 cm
© Miha Štrukelj
Miha Štrukelj graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and completed his master’s there in 2001. He has received several grants and awards, including a Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2008-09, the Henkel Drawing Award in 2008 and a Trust for Mutual Understanding Grant in 2014.
The anonymous, unattractive urban scenes of global megacities in Miha Štrukelj’s paintings have always already functioned as media images, as ordinary cities of our collective imagery, juxtaposing equally undefined scenes of deserted streets in some Asian metropolis, forests of advertising billboards and signs, the chaos of urban traffic and the uncontained architectural jungle. It is in this environment, through a subtle painterly rendering of the image, that the alienation of the subject, the inability to communicate and the existential isolation of the contemporary individual have most often been manifested in Štrukelj’s works of the last few years.
Lujo Vodopivec (1951)
Memories of Hadrian II, 2006–2007
Bronze, plexiglass, glass, electric wires
110 x 40 x 35 cm
© Lujo Vodopivec
Photo: Tine Musek
Bronze, ceramic, glass
85 x 38 x 38 cm
© Lujo Vodopivec
Photo: Marko Tušek
From 1970 to 1974, Lujo Vodopivec studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. In 1979 and 1980 he continued his studies under Professor William Tucker in New York. He has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana since 1984, initially as an assistant professor and since 2000 as a full professor.
Vodopivec believes in art as the capacity for metaphorical immersion in ideas about the world and us in it, and its mission to reveal the depths of human intuitive perception, which responds to living life, but is at the same time external to time and space. In a series of sculptures created between 2004 and 2010, he employed the mythical structure of the famous novel The Invention of Morel by the Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares to construct a ‘mnemonic matrix’ of a laboratory of glass retorts in which human dreams are immersed. They are connected to a symbolic, electronic infusion, in which human longing, captured in a mysterious smile, withers in the Buddhist nirvana of the sinking destiny of every man.
Lujo Vodopivec is a refined and unobtrusive champion of the preservation of the allegorical meta-language of art, seeking to build a world in which images of memory coexist with reality; his mode of presentation is not representation, but reproduction: the artist is a shamanic demiurge who creates ‘replicas’ of objects that do not exist. He is not interested in how the real appears in fiction, but how fiction fits into the real. He does not discover or fix the real, but collides with it intuitively, so that the real becomes the result rather than the starting point. Sometimes in this he is prophetic, as in his sculpture Virus, which he made back in 2010, long before the current pandemic.
Sašo Vrabič (1974)
Deep Sleep, 2017–2018
Paper cuts, acrylic, oil on canvas
160 x 260 cm
© Sašo Vrabič
Sašo Vrabič graduated in 1997 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, where he did his master’s in the graphics department in 2001. He continued his artistic development through the Slovenian Ministry of Culture’s artist-in-residence programme in Berlin (2009) and London (2014).
Vrabič’s composite image thematises the local mythology of King Matjaž sleeping within a mountain, from where he will awake and bring prosperity. It is a commentary on the power of the individual in terms of superiority and inferiority, and dependence on leaders. He highlights the apathy of contemporary society in the comfort zone of a so-called second nature, characterised by an environment flooded with data that conceals and obscures information owing to an excess of stimuli. As a multimedia artist, Sašo Vrabič moves in a world of digital images and generated sounds that interactively stimulate all the senses and transcend the capacity of normal human perception and reflexes, but as a painter he stops them and offers a reflective consideration of their nature and meaning.
Uroš Weinberger (1975)
Air One Ground Zero, 2018
Oil on canvas
204 x 272 cm
© Uroš Weinberger
Uroš Weinberger (1975) graduated in painting in 2003, and in 2005 completed his master’s in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. In 2009 he participated in the Slovenian Ministry of Culture’s artist-in-residence programme in Berlin, and in 2013 at the Schafhof Europäisches Künstlerhaus Oberbayern in Freising.
In his monumental paintings, Uroš Weinberger creates worlds of a dystopian future. He assembles digital images of various origins into collages whose details point to our present-day reality, except that it is a reality burnt almost beyond recognition with a glowing (as if radioactive) light, but for that very reason it is more real than reality. Traditionally, in modern ideology, technology plays the role of a vehicle for progress and liberation (from physical labour, for example). But in Weinberger’s work it takes on a darker role, becoming a tool for control and the curtailing of liberty that locks civilisation time and again in a closed circle of self-destructiveness.
Joni Zakonjšek (1974)
Do You Still Remember Love? Koštabona, 2007–2010
Oil on canvas
190 x 278 cm
After completing high school in Slovenia, Joni Zakonjšek spent two years in London, where she did a foundation course in art at the Whitechapel Art School. In 2003 she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. She lives in the Bela Krajina countryside.
Joni Zakonjšek’s work has a unique place in the panorama of contemporary artistic practice in Slovenia: her painting is an extremely prolonged process akin to a meditative practice involving deep concentration and a constant quest for harmony with reality and the cosmos. Her conceptual world is inhabited exclusively by images of nature that examine with almost microscopic proximity patches of grass, sections of leafy forest undergrowth or the sea shallows, against a disappearing horizon. The images of nature, depicted at very close range and with sensitive attention to the minutest detail, are elevated into images of microcosms, self-sufficient worlds inviting us to take the path of spirituality and meditation as a way of authentically experiencing supra(subjective) awareness.