mixed media on canvas, 190×250 cm
Zlatko Kopljar (1962) is an intriguing multimedia artist who creates complex references to the social function of the practice of art. His oeuvre includes paintings, installations, performances, actions, videos and films, and is intertwined with primordial, ritual, ethical, existentialist, and self-identification and identity themes. He has been preoccupied with the motifs of sacrifice and redemption, the position of the individual in relation to the constructs of power, injustice within contemporary social systems and the meaninglessness of violence. Different series of his are expressions of rebellion against the power of art institutions and point to the social position of artists. According to art historian Sanja Cvetnić, the strategies of performative rituals (sacrifice, memory, adoration, offering) are the core artistic strategies of his oeuvre. He graduated in 1991 in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice under Prof. Carmelo Zotti. At his beginnings, he questioned the meaning of human existence, sacrifice and redemption. By reinterpreting biblical motifs and ritual acts, he drew inspiration from the art of Caravaggio, Joseph Beuys and Andrei Tarkovsky. Kopljar’s Sacrifice from 1992 is, in actual fact, a mixed media composition in the vein of Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice film from 1986. Kopljar’s achromatic and burned altar includes several hundred young people’s statements on their wishes in life and is his ritualistic expression of the meaning(lessness) of sacrifice and redemption. Since 1997 he has been naming all of his performances, first acted out in a black and then in a white glittering suit, with the letter K for construction. In his K9 Compassion from 2003, he is kneeling as if praying before the icons of New York. His K19 from 2014, an installation made of bricks from the Jasenovac concentration camp, expresses the healing power of art over absolute evil. His more recent works (e.g., K20 Empty, 2015) are hermetic expressions of hopelessness with the emptiness of the world. He represented Croatia at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 2004, and has exhibited his work at many exhibitions in both Croatia and abroad.
Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: © from the National Museum of Modern Art’s archives, Zagreb