MIRKO ZRINŠĆAK: The Forms of  Space

MIRKO ZRINŠĆAK: The Forms of Space

EXIBITION DESCRIPTION

Exhibition title: MIRKO ZRINŠĆAK: The Forms of  Space
Duration: 28 Feb 2008 – 22 Mar 2008

TIME AND SPACE AS SUBSTANTIAL AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 

Although he is a member of that narrow circle of artists who have made a crucial contribution to the enlargement of the concept of modern sculpture and won recognition from critics and the discipline on an international scale, the work of Mirko Zrinšćak in more recent Croatian art still enjoys the lot of a single, lasting and independent creative personality not well enough known in the general public. Hence the exhibition of recent works, sculptures and sculpture installations in the Art Pavilion in Zagreb created in the last few years has not merely confirmed the reputation he acquired earlier of being an artist of a distinctive and powerful individualism, but has in the most fitting manner drawn attention to Zrinšćak’s work and the nature of his sensibility as a sculptor.  He is an artist who at the initial stage of his creative work showed the character and virtues of a subtle constructor and investigator of form, cultivating the traditional experience of craft skills and almost instinctively responding to initially painterly inspirations of a powerful and expressive gesturality.  But he has proved by his unconventional behaviour, conscious of his isolation, that the intimate private space is more important than the public, and that the inner light is stronger and more stimulating than the limelight. On this intimate, internal trail of an experience of reality that presumed both a conceptual approach and constructive inclinations, the contours and signs of an autonomous, systematically articulated artistic world essentially defined by the categories of time and space, key topics in his art, were increasingly strongly recognised.   Among the artists of his generation of the early 1980s, he remained a detached specimen who clearly defined his own objectives and priorities, set high criteria and laid down the lines of action that (with the exception of his short adventure in Abstract Expressionist painting) essentially stood aside from the common art pracice and the topical media turmoils of the time.  Addressing himself and his own options, he adopted a manner than counted on a space-time departure from anything that might possibly jeopardise the composure, discipline and patience of the creative being in the process of appropriating the objective and the everyday and transforming it into visual, trans-temporal art. Still, two events essentially characterised the artistic and personal biography of Mirko Zrinšćak. One was the course at the Academy in Venice under the guidance of Emillio Vedova, the other was participation in the national selection at the Venice Biennale in 1995. And while his years of study on the lagoons were an important turning point in his life and his profoundest experience in terms of both existence and profession, the appearance at the Biennale was a “starred” moment and an opportunity to make an international afirmation, Zrinšćak  finally found his creative stronghold and the living and spiritual oasis of his domicile on Mount Učka.  This was an effective and definitive return to spiritual roots, to his own wellsprings, a restoration to the primordial nature of things and the original principles of thinking through artistic form, inspiration for which he found in the things and objective forms from the immediate natural surroundings. It also meant a return to a personal Arcadia and to a general harmony of the creative imagination, of concentrated work and contemplation. He was able to find a manner that was to mark him lastingly as artist who in collaboration with nature established a fruitful ecological balance of spiritual and existential. And indeed, without a clear footing in tradition of art history, and far from the noisy backdrops of current gallery programmes and the common practice of finding rapid and non-binding solutions, the creative work of Mirko Zrinšćak shows itself to be a paradigmatic place of contemplative and creative solitariness and of profound awareness of form in a living and dynamic space of contemporary spiritual life.  Starting out from the position of painter, with a strongly Expressionist charge, in which the closeness of the gesture of Vedova could be sensed, Zrinšćak soon complemented the initial energy of material and gestural (action) painting with the composure of the industrious builder, the creator of new signs and systems of value.   First of all he discovered in the topos of the accidentally found object and of re-worked elements and remains of the material culture (beams and nails, window frames, sheet metal and plaster; honeycombs, bones and so on) primary strata and then by subsequent interventions changed their code structures, meanings and significances. Then showing a propensity to more optimal visual solutions, to spatial ensembles, sculptures and objects in which the borders between past and present, abstract and figurative, invented and real tend to be elided, the relations of organic and inorganic, substantive and imaginary were strengthened, care being taken above all of form and shape, of characteristics of material, relations of detail and whole.  In this complex process of transformation his work passed through various degrees and phases of perception and interpretation; from conceptual stage settings of things and objects marked by duration or rough sculptural interventions up to the famous cabinets of wonders, i.e., collections of objects and organic substances and mature sculptural approaches of highly artistic production. And although to an extent it sounds paradoxical, it would seem that in this fruitful relinquishment of restricting rules, in a radical rejection of social stereotypes and in the recycling or redesigning of objective contents and everything formally inherited from the spiritual legacy of the closer or more distant past, the authentic experience and generating force of his art were contained.   This meant the need by work on material that was found and at hand to change the self and everything that was within reach, not as a polemical or nostalgic attitude towards things of the past, rather as an “attempt at a conciliation of tradition and innovation (Tonko Maroevia) in the creation of some new synthesis. In fact, the natural setting of Učka, as geographical fact and space of existence, that microcosm of the artist’s spiritual and material existence, and finally, this “found internal time”, as substantive / material and personal experience in the evolutive process of work, essentially defined Zrinšćak’s culture, his mentality and the formal structure of his work, in which the environment is deeply ingrained. They marked the sphere of his creative interest, from which he has drawn his ideas and his inspirational strength, as well as formed his artistic worldview, in which the Brancusi-style aspiration of the artist for his work to be liberated of description and reminiscence and given the ability to make us re-cognisant of forms is manifested. It would seem that here lies the essence of an understanding of and a reliable path into Zrinšćak’s idiosyncratic sculptural world that, as better connoisseurs of his work say, “belongs neither to past nor to present” (Igor Zidić), but in their own temporality of perceptive / evolutive and anthropomorphic experience encompass both one and the other, showing something old and ancient, something anticipatory and innovative: ontogenetic experiences and mechanical properties of consummately formed organic structures in an ostensibly free combination of elements and associations of which temporal and formal constraints are cancelled out.   This is an original, ontological way of thinking through sculpture that in its ideational purity of the polished form, in the primary structure of work and in the morphology of the created forms opens up more openings to the inner world than it relies on the external and outer. This is mostly reliably testified to by Zrinšćak’s recent sculptures, spatial constructions and a series of new works of closed, full volumes created in the last two years, constituting his most ambitious and convincing pieces.  Not only with their large formats of spatial suggestions and ambiental claims, but also with the semantic clarity of outline and form and the precision of execution, these are works with a powerful meditative strength, and a unique example of an exceptional culture of creation; of a discipline and collectedness that is always looking for new and different approaches that are still along the lines of “intimations of some wellspring and archetype”.  Of what cannot be encompassed by the gaze or fathomed rationally, what is contained in the deeper spheres of the intuitive, of sensuous inspiration, in the process of the gradual liberation of the visual imagination in which the real and the elusive are united. In his use of the resources and procedures of traditional technologies of hand working, Zrinšćak, in a complex and lasting process of modelling objective form, has added new meanings, following with the gradual and soft working of wood the thought and spirit of the material, emphasising its material properties. By gradual rejection of the external layer, by peeling and scraping from the natural, he has liberated from natural material the substantial form, reducing things to the pure essence of some ur-form or sign in space (for example, the slender and pliable threads of wooden sections). And indeed, his sculptures, skeletal constructions in which he links and combines forms and shapes of various sizes, cross-sections and directions into a single organic whole, are as if they were built according to the predictable matrix of some ur-prototype; some universal solution in which objective contents and vital forces of organic origin are at one, performative kinetic properties of biomorphological structures and dynamic forces of mechanical, latently  tensed sets of spatial objects; even more so, harmoniously composed organisms of a peculiar architectural clarity and precision, and an outstanding refinement and elegance, which without any firm foothold or stability are ready at any moment to take off seeking their “movement in space”. On the other hand, seeming to be emerging from the deepest regions, organic forms that with their pared-down fusiform shapes and their rounded and full volumes of a specific configuration awaken associations of anthropomorphic origin or forces of drive and growth from the nucleus of forms that return us to the primal conditions of primordial forms of life.   Their hollow, rounded torsos, created by sawing and gouging and by rejoining two hemispheres into a single perfectly modelled corpus of full form have not ony defined the specific gravity of the closed mass of the volume, but also revealed certain new technical solutions.  With their external form and closed internal space, marked sense of full and void, light and dark, they have become compact organic units that take on metaphysical characteristics and the possible attributes of magian objects. This is a unique series of fifteen sculptures of variable forms, making up a separate thematic and formal unit, enlarging the possibility of the visual-plastic interpretation of Zrinšćak’s work as a kind of spatial installation.   With its deployment and ambiental set up in the exhibition space, without any firm or stable grounding on the floor, they create a powerful visual impression of a dynamic spatial structure that with its sumptuous, voluble forms awakens powerful associations of a gravitating gyration and a feeling of instability.   And also expand the field of sensory and space-time palpable experience in the movement of the viewer through the objective world of forms. And the emphasised minimalisation of form reduced to the degree of elementariness is reciprocal to the process of the harmonisation of the spirit. With the condition in which feelings, awareness, understanding, imagination, fancy, intuition are all united in a fullness of the existential and spiritual being that rises above the darkness of the uncertain and merges with the cosmic primal harmony, with the order inscribed in the human cosmic soul. For what is going on in the space of the sculpture is more of an inner than an external nature.  The created form does not have its grounding in the natural order of things, nor in the existing system of values, does not invoke known models of traditional or contemporary experience of artistic form. Relying above all on his own experiences and visions that are characterised by an intensive personal imagination and mastery, Zrinšeak arrives at new, complex, creative works that have no need of any chronology or interpretative discussion. It is here completely a matter of indifference whether we are concerned with the open form of skeletal construction of the closed form of full volume, or indeed with spatial installation. Zrinšćak always counts on the element of rhythmical organisation of internal and external space as a representation of dynamic forces and tensions, endeavouring to abstractify the realism of the object and strengthen its form as pure plastic thought and spatial fact that has “been qualified to lead an independent life”. From inchoate and indeterminate raw material Zrinšeak thus returns to awareness clearly defined speech of autonomous forms, turning them into variable plastic metaphors of natural or biological phenomena or into some fragile floating structure of stylised sets of tense forms, never seen before in Croatian sculpture. Starting from these assumptions, and comprehending his oeuvre all round in the totality of complex, technical, visual, aesthetic and conceptual solutions (from reworked objets trouves, assemblages, and cabinets of wonders, to sculptures and spatial installations of a high degree of formal purity) we have arrived at a number of essential determinants of his works in which double criteria prevail: a pronouncedly rational and meditative approach, a constructive principle and an expressive procedure, the vitalism of organic, anthropomorphic form and decorative elements of idealised objectiveness, endeavouring almost instinctively to set up a balance and harmony between internal, spiritual feeling and the external world of experience.  The principle as a rule is always the same: once created an object in form or shape is not necessarily the only and final solution, has not necessarily become a lasting museum object. It is an independent object, but also a potential constructive element for some new combination, some future sculpture or spatial installation, which puts this work in the typical post-modern context.   Into a state of a certain incompletion of the open work, as lasting evolutive process, in which everything is subordinated to transformation and constant changes of relationships and meanings at all levels of sensory and spiritual, material, objective experience. And it is this that is the key component making Zrinšeak’s work modern and up to the moment.  That makes it an example of a distinctive culture of creation that has in this current exhibition attained the culminating point of its artistic maturity and human consistency. Radovan Vuković, director of Art Pavilion in Zagreb Mirko Zrinščak was born in 1953 in Volosko. At the college of education in Rijeka, he studied the organisation of cultural activities, and then painting at the Accademia di belle Arti in Venice (1983), class of Emilio Vedova. After his course, he spent a year in Kiel, in the Künstlerhaus, as artist in residence. In the next few years he lived and worked in a studio in Veprinac, at the foot of Mt Učka. In 1992 he moved his studio to the higher parts of Učka (a wooden hut located right in the forest). Since 1997 he has lived in the village of Vela Učka.  In company with Martin Kramer and Goran Petercol, he represented Croatia at the 46th Venice Biennale. He is the founder of the Veprinac – Učka Multimedia Research Centre. He is a member of the artists’ associations HZSU and HDLU of Rijeka and the Lokve Sculptors’ Workshop of the Gorski kotor region. In 1996 he won the City of Rijeka Prize, and was decorated in 1997 for particular services to culture (Order of the Croatian Day Star with Figure of Marko Marulić). His works are kept in the collections of the Modern Gallery in Zagreb, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, as well as the collections of collectors at home and abroad.   Individual exhibitions   1985. ŠKAREBARE, Galerija omladinskog kluba Rijeka; Mirko Zrinšćak i Goran Štimac 1986. Galerija GI-GI, Lido, Venecija, Italija 1987. KOPARAGA, Galerie Prima Kunst E. V., Kiel, Njemačka; Mirko Zrinšćak, Julia        Bornefeld 1988. Galerija studentskog centra Zagreb 1989. Moderna galerija, Mali salon, Rijeka           REX SOLIA, ŠKUC, Ljubljana, Slovenija; Mirko Zrinšćak i Dalibor Laginja 1991. C.M.I.V.U., Umjetnički paviljon Juraj Šporer, Opatija 1993. C.M.I.V.U. – WE ARE COSMIC SERIES 1991-2001, Galerija Kandler, Pula 1994. Facultas Eormatrix, Mali salon, Rijeka 1995. C.M.I.V.U. – WE ARE COSMIC SERIES 1991-2001, Galerija Josip Račić, Moderna           galerija Zagreb           BIENNALE DI VENEZIA, Palazzo Barozzi, Venezia, Italia; predstavnik Republike Hrvatske (Martina Kramer, Goran Petercol) 1998. MGC Klovićevi dvori, Zagreb 2000. Zavičajni muzej grada Rovinja, Rovinj 2004. Galerija Marino, Umag 2005-06. Internet galerija Morsko prase 2008. Umjetnički paviljon u Zagrebu, Zagreb   Collective exhibitions   1985. 16. salon mladih, Moderna galerija, Zagreb 1988. 3. biennale mladih, Moderna galerija, Rijeka Stipanov-Štimac-Zrinšćak,           Moderna galerija, Mali salon, Rijeka           18. salon mladih, HDLU, Zagreb 1987. 14. biennale mladih, Moderna galerija, Mali salon, Rijeka           Matijević-Bornefeld-Zrinšćak, Moderna galerija, Mali salon, Rijeka 1988. Kontrolirana gesta, Primjer novog enformela i apstraktnog ekspresionizma,            Moderna galerija, Koprivnica,            Moderna galerija, Ljubljana,            Razstavni salon Rotovž, Maribor,            Likovni susreti, Subotica,            Moderna galerija, Rijeka,            19. salon mladih, HDLU, Zagreb 1989. Jugoslavenska dokumenta ”89, Olimpijski centar ””Skenderija””, Sarajevo 1990. Forza Fiume, Galerija Karas, Zagreb 1991. 6. pančevačka izložba jugoslavenske skulpture 1991, Pančevo           Izložba slika i skulptura iz opatijskih ateliera, u povodu Dana državnosti           Umjetnički paviljon Juraj Šporer, Opatija 1992. Ville e Palazzi, Le Muse di Pietra (Veneto, Venezia-Giulia, Alto Adige), Italija           Pogled u kaos, ŠKUC, Ljubljana           Umetostna galerija, Maribor  1993. Nova hrvatska umjetnost           Moderna galerija Zagreb           Umjetnički paviljon, Zagreb           Salon galerija Karas, Zagreb 1994. XXXIV. annale, Prerađena materija, Istarska sabornica, Poreč           Galerija HDLU, Zagreb           Artisti a Pordenone, 1994, 2” Mostra di Arte Contemporanea, Pordenone, Italija 1995. Suvremeni riječki autori – dio nove hrvatske umjetnosti           Mali salon, Rijeka           Galerija Waldinger, Osijek           V. izložba liburnijskih likovnih umjetnika, Umjetnički paviljon Juraj Šporer, Opatija 1996. Moderna galerija, Zagreb           Mali salon, Rijeka           Suvremeni hrvatski autori, Padova          XXXVI. annale, Istarska sabornica, Poreč 1997. Kneževa palača, Dubrovnik, izbornik Zdenko Rus           Nova ARS Histriae, Signum Temporis: Labin, Opatija, Pula, Zagreb, Varaždin, Rijeka           Nova hrvatska umjetnost,           Museo de arte contemporaneo, Santiago de Chile, Čile           Museo civile, Valdina, Čile 1998. Museo de arte contemporaneo, Buenos Aires, Argentina           Museo de arte contemporaneo, Sao Paolo, Brazil 1999. Likovna kolonija Rovinj, Zavičajni muzej, Rovinj 2000. MIB ART, Trst           Dekorativno i konstruktivno, Mali salon, Rijeka           Likovna kolonija Rovinj, Zavičajni muzej, Rovinj 2001. HDLU Rijeka, 55. godišnja izložba – kiparstvo,           Galerija Kortil, Enigma Rijeka           Osaka Triennale 2001, 10th International Contemporary Art 2002. Inovacije – akvizicije, MMSU, Rijeka 2003. Liburnijski kipari, Umjetnički paviljon Juraj Šporer, Opatija           Majkus-Štimac-Zrinšćak 2004. Slika, gesta, materija – 80-te, MMSU, Rijeka 2005. Industrijski krajolik, MMSU, Rijeka 2006. Umjetnička radionica Petikat, Bicikl = umjetnost, Tehnički muzej, Zagreb 2007. Galerija Kortil, Cosa Nostra – HDLU Rijeka   Mirko Zrinšćak Vela Učka 27 51414 Ičići   tel: 051 299 657 gsmo: 099 212 37 94          099 508 02 35   e-mail: baniczm@apuri.hr Mirko Zrinščak was born in 1953 in Volosko. At the college of education in Rijeka, he studied the organisation of cultural activities, and then painting at the Accademia di belle Arti in Venice (1983), class of Emilio Vedova. After his course, he spent a year in Kiel, in the Künstlerhaus, as artist in residence. In the next few years he lived and worked in a studio in Veprinac, at the foot of Mt Učka. In 1992 he moved his studio to the higher parts of Učka (a wooden hut located right in the forest). Since 1997 he has lived in the village of Vela Učka.  In company with Martin Kramer and Goran Petercol, he represented Croatia at the 46th Venice Biennale. He is the founder of the Veprinac – Učka Multimedia Research Centre. He is a member of the artists’ associations HZSU and HDLU of Rijeka and the Lokve Sculptors’ Workshop of the Gorski kotor region. In 1996 he won the City of Rijeka Prize, and was decorated in 1997 for particular services to culture (Order of the Croatian Day Star with Figure of Marko Marulić). His works are kept in the collections of the Modern Gallery in Zagreb, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, as well as the collections of collectors at home and abroad.