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Tuesday 26 April 2011

Contemporary sculpture in Croatia + Hungarian reflections, Hungarian National Gallery

Review by Adam Harangozó

For the opening event of the Croatian Culture Months, the Hungarian National Gallery has arranged a rich exhibition from the works of contemporary Croatian sculptors with reflections by Hungarian artists. Curated by Jasminka Poklečki Stošić and including 51 items from 17 artists, the selection is characterised by infinite richness and diversity – walking through the exhibition is like walking between the borders of concepts like substance, stability and surface.

Watchman from Dalibor Stošić is a dark and dusty piece. The fragmented oak log is joined with a strict steel mask, which gives it a human-like form; the metal plates, studs and buckles lending a military feeling to the bust. The way the sculpture maintains its own unity brings inner conflicts to the surface: the cold steel is not watching the outside; it is rather guarding matters of the inside, and so observing shows to be only a play obscuring its fragile nature. Kuzma Kovačić, designer of the Croatian coins, examines a topic that is not easy to shape sculpturally: language. His Čakavica in Sculpture, made of wood painted blue, portrays the čakavica dialect. In the wood there are pits here and hunches there, but these are all small compared to the size of the log. The special state of the Croatian language adds to the thought-provoking nature of the statue. It represents dialectical differences as negligible, and emphasizes the mutual body of the language, to which everyone connects with their own idiolect.

With her sculptures, Marina Bauer contemplates the biographic interpretation of art. In Portrait (the artist e-mail letters) she makes a stone mortar with an e-mail letter sent to her pressed on it. Looking at this work, the viewer becomes the voyeur; the act of watching becomes breaking into the artist's private space by reading her personal letter. In Memories II we not only become a viewer, but we interact with the artist's memories. There is a large crate full of sand with bricks of stone in it with a scene, a memory, painted on each. On the side of the crate, there are two brushes, tempting the viewer to delve into the memories of the artist. It is as if Marina Bauer is suggesting that, much as there are approaches that seek to detach the biographic artist from the artwork, we still are interpreting a part of her personal life.

Several artists deal with the deception and negation of space and matter. The hung aluminum strips in Alem Korkut's High Tide create the effect of flowing by bending the material, so the strips appear to be stages of a tide, contradicting the heavy iron look of the material. Windy from Damir Matašuić, made of painted wood, copper, epoxy and glass, is a window whose curtains show that the air is breezing softly – the fine and elaborate nature of the material takes the possibility of solidity away.

Hungarian Reflections proves to be fitting to the Croatian artworks in topic and quality; it doesn't force any narrative on contemporary Croatian art, only gives us insight into the thematic and aesthetic richness of sculpture.

Contemporary sculpture in Croatia + Hungarian reflections Without Borders continues until 3 July at the Hungarian National Gallery. For more information please visit www.mng.hu.

Dalibor Stosic
Courtesy the artist and The Hungarian National Gallery

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