Hallucinatory Melancholies

Hommage to Rembrandt, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and others are some of the works that René Miković dedicated to his greatest role models. This visual artist from Zagreb, inspired by Rembrandt and Flemish painting, went to study in the Netherlands in the mid-1970s, where he continued to live and create until his death in 1996. According to the author of the exhibition and catalogue, Mirna Rudan Lisak PhD, this artist left behind a relatively small yet exceptionally intriguing and powerful body of work, which is insufficiently known to both art professionals and the general public.
From 3 to 29 October, with the exhibition Hallucinatory Melancholies at the Josip Račić Gallery, the National Museum of Modern Art posthumously presents and valorises René Miković’s hitherto completely unexplored body of work. In addition to two oil paintings, Dead Bird and Doll from a Box (both dated to 1978 and in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art), the visual set-up, jointly curated by Mirna Rudan Lisak and the director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Branko Franceschi, will also showcase around thirty works owned by the artist’s friends Ivan Maruna, Darko Petrinjak, and Sanja Pilić.
A portion of René Miković’s body of work, known only through photographs and reproductions, will be presented through a video projection also curated by the exhibition’s author. The accompanying richly illustrated catalogue will be available in both Croatian and English, with the text by Mirna Rudan Lisak, PhD.
Translated by: Robertina Tomić

René Miković, a visual artist from Zagreb, who studied, lived, and worked in the Netherlands, seems to have been forgotten after his untimely death, only to be rediscovered more than a quarter of a century later. However, at this point when almost all topics have already been explored in countless ways, it is rare to find a work whose relevance stands the test of time, especially when such works are relatively obscure, unknown to both the general public and to professionals whose daily endeavours involve the study and assessment of Croatian art. It calls for an original insight and a unique interpretation, thus embodying the elusive ideal of contemporary researchers and institutions responsible for the protection and preservation of national cultural heritage. René Miković’s first solo exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery, which posthumously presents his previously entirely unexplored body of work, becomes a lasting contribution to Croatian culture and art, and can serve as a starting point for future interpretations of Miković’s modest yet exceptionally fascinating and powerful oeuvre.

René Miković (Zagreb, 1954–Groningen, 1996) was a Croatian visual artist who studied, lived, and worked in the Netherlands. From 1970 to 1975, he attended the School of Applied Arts in Zagreb (Printmaking Department). In 1976, he went abroad and enrolled in the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London, United Kingdom. That same year, under the mentorship of Kurt Löb, he attended a Summer Painting Seminar at the International Academy of Fine Arts in Niederbipp, Switzerland. However, as he had been inspired by Rembrandt and Flemish painting from his earliest youth, he left London at the end of the year and went to his spiritual homeland, the Netherlands, where, from 1976 to 1979, under the guidance of Evert Musch, he completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts “Academie Minerva” in Groningen, the Netherlands. Subsequently, from 1979 to 1981, he pursued further studies under the mentorship of Professor Ko Sarneel in the postgraduate program at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, the Netherlands. He exhibited his works at Pictura (Groningen, 1979), Singermuseum (Laren, 1979), De Kolku (Assen, 1979), Galerie Dry Koningen (Amsterdam, 1979), and Galerie Lieve Hemel (Amsterdam, 1986). The uniqueness of Miković’s art arises from the trompe l'oeil painting technique he employs to create a world where illusion plays a significant role, ultimately achieving a hallucinatory optical effect on his canvases.

Mirna Rudan Lisak, PhD (Zagreb, 1972) is an advisor at the City Office for Culture of the City of Zagreb. After obtaining her degree at the Faculty of Architecture, she earned her doctorate at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb. She furthered her studies in Paris and Montpellier as a scholarship recipient of the Government of the French Republic, within the Courants du Monde program. She is the author of two books and chapters in a book (published by Matica hrvatska and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), as well as numerous essays in the field of culture and art (published in Forum, Vijenac, Riječi, Večernji list, and Telegram), some of which have been translated and published abroad. Her essay on the German philosopher Oswald Spengler was selected as a required text for essay writing in the 2023 National Matriculation in the Croatian language. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal for literature, culture, and science Riječi and is also an honorary member and chief editor of the Croatian Society “Aleksandar Skrjabin”. Her research work encompasses theory, philosophy, and all branches of art from the early modern period to the present day. When addressing selected issues within the scope of productive and reproductive artistic practice, she approaches them from a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective.

Reproductions: Dead Bird, oil on hardboard / 62 x 45 cm / MG-8082 1978 / Hommage à Jan van Eyck, 1981. / oil on wood, 110 x 75 cm/
Doll in a box , 1978. / oil on wood, 62 x 45 cm / MG- 8083 Doll, 1990 / oil on canvas, 55 x 70 cm / Sanja Pilić, 1974. / oil on canvas / 77 x 60 cm / Watch out! Might rain, take the umbrella, 1980./ oil on wood, 170 x 120 cm
Photo: Goran Vranić, and from private archives


From 5 September to 1 October, the National Museum of Modern Art presents, at the Josip Račić Gallery, an exhibition of Mak Melcher, a multi-award-winning artist of the younger generation, titled " Crumpled Objectlessness ". This versatile artist, born in Mostar in 1983, obtained a degree in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2008, in the class of professor Miro Vuco, and from 2003 to 2004 he worked as an assistant to the recently deceased sculptor and academic Marija Ujević Galetović. Since 2010, he has been employed as an assistant to the sculptor Dalibor Stošić. At the Bedekovčina secondary school, he taught vocational subjects in the stonemasonry technician course, and since 2011 he has been a teacher at the Sculpture, Stage and Ceramics Design Departments at the School of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb, that he also graduated from in 2003. As part of the International Symposium Cavae Romanae in 2010, he was selected for the realization of a sculpture in public space in Vinkuran near Pula, and in the summer of 2019, as part of International Cultural Cooperation, he participated in the prestigious Cité Internationale des Arts residency in Paris.
The concept of Mak Melcher's ninth solo exhibition, in which he presents his recent works on paper, is formulated by Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art, who is also the author of the foreword in the bilingual catalogue accompanying the artist's exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery, in which he writes: (…) With the new cycle, the sculptor transforms into a painter-draughtsman, and he, in turn, transforms back into a sculptor. Although creating objectifications, they are non-objective in their meaningfulness, as they don’t signify the concrete world of things, but rather the one from which they are constructed. The artist’s architectural instinct is present here as well. His minimal spatial interpretations exist at the intersections of monochromes and (duo)chromes, painted coloured fields, and the material-substantial principle guided by the theory of citation in a broad spectrum of reflections also points towards formless art that, through materiality, lack of form, and the physical factuality of the artwork, becomes a substitution for corporeality in the image. The metaphor of colour and materiality is anti-intellectual as it refers to itself; the stripped-down act of creation without invoking reality. (…)

Mak Melcher was born on 8 March 1983, in Mostar. After having completed the School of Applied Arts and Design (Department of Ceramics) in Zagreb, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb, in 2003. In 2008, he graduated from the Sculpture Department in the class of Professor Miro Vuco. During his studies, he was the City of Zagreb scholarship recipient. From 2003 to 2004, he worked as an assistant to the sculptor Marija Ujević.In 2008, he worked at the Ujević Art Foundry as a wax retoucher, where he had the opportunity to learn the complete casting craft.From 2008 to 2009, he collaborated with conservator-restorers in the Hedom company on the restoration of Upper Town façades.From 2010 to the present day, he has been working as an assistant to the sculptor Dalibor Stošić.From May to June 2010, he worked at Bedekovčina High School as a teacher of specialized subjects in the stone masonry technician program. From 2011 to the present day, he has been teaching at the School of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb at the Sculpture, Stage and Ceramics Design Departments.As part of the International Sculpture Symposium Cavae Romanae 2010, he was selected to be an artist in residence in Vinkuran near the city of Pula in July 2010, and create a sculpture in public space.As part of the international cultural cooperation program, during July and August 2019 he participated in the prestigious artistic residency Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. He is the recipient of several awards, including: “Iva Vraneković” Award - Artist to Artist (2016), 3rd Prize of the 32nd Youth Salon (2014), and an equivalent acquisition prize in the competition for the monument to Croatian defenders in Beli Manastir (2011).

From 2005 until today, he has staged 8 solo exhibitions, participated in more than 30 group exhibitions at home and abroad, and has taken part in 7 sculpture symposiums and colonies from 2004 to the present. He is a member of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists (HDLU). Since 2011, he has been working as a professor at the School of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb.

Solo exhibitions:

    • 2012 – “Metamorfoze” – “Vladimir Bužančić” Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2013 – “Metamorfoze” – Antun Augustinčić Gallery, Klanjec
    • 2013 – “Reljefi i object” – “Izidor Kršnjavi” Exhibition Salon, Zagreb
    • 2016 – “Triptih” – Mazuth Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2016 – “Exhibition of award-winning artists of the 32nd Youth Salon: Fran Makek and Mak Melcher”– Extended Media Gallery (PM), HDLU, Zagreb
    • 2017 – “Pavle Pavlović & Mak Melcher” – 3.14 Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2017  – “Atelier 07” – Raga Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2020 – “Atelier 08” – Forum Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2023 – “Ugužvana nepredmetnost” – “Josip Račić” Gallery, Zagreb

Group exhibitions:

    • 2005 – “Pasionska baština” – “Kristofor Stanković” Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2006 – “Pasionska baština” – “Kristofor Stanković” Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2006 – “28th Youth Salon” – HDLU, Zagreb
    • 2007 – Triennial of Croatian Medal Making and Small-Scale Sculpture – “9th Ivo Kerdić Memorial” – Museum of Fine Arts, Osijek
    • 2007 – “Mozaik od zamisli do ostvarenja” – Vinkovci Municipal Museum
    • 2007  – “Zemlja” – “Branko Ružić” Gallery, Slavonski Brod
    • 2008 – “10²” – ULUPUH Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2008 – “Zemlja” – Church of St. Elias on Meraja, Vinkovci
    • 2010 – “10th Ivo Kerdić Memorial” – Museum of Fine Arts, Osijek
    • 2010 – “2nd International Biennial of Painters and Sculptors – Mediterranean 2010– Milesi Palace, Split
    • 2010 – “Artexchange 3: Istrian Art Fair” within the Marisall Gallery – Multimedia Centre (MMC), Rovinj HDLU
    • 2011 – “Exhibition of professors of the School of Applied Arts and Design” – “Izidor Kršnjavi” Exhibition Salon, Zagreb
    • 2014 – “32nd Youth Salon” – HDLU, Zagreb
    • 2014 – “HangArt” – Marina Zadar, Zadar
    • 2014 – “Annual exhibition of HDLU members” – HDLU, Zagreb
    • 2015 – “Exhibition of works of the 43rd Paradiso Art Colony” – Paradiso Gallery, Rab
    • 2015 – “12th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture” – Glyptotheque HAZU, Zagreb
    • 2015 – “16th Paradiso Art Colony” – Makek Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2017 – “Materiality in Contemporary Croatian Art” – Ring Gallery, HDLU, Zagreb
    • 2017 – “Exhibition of professors of the School of Applied Arts and Design” – “Izidor Kršnjavi” Exhibition Salon, Zagreb
    • 2018 – “13th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture” – Glyptotheque HAZU, Zagreb
    • 2019 – “13th Ivo Kerdić Memorial” – Museum of Fine Arts,Osijek
    • 2019 – “Exhibition of professors of the School of Applied Arts and Design” – “Izidor Kršnjavi” Exhibition Salon, Zagreb
    • 2020 – “Antun Augustinčić Gallery in the Night of Museums from 2010 to 2020” – Antun Augustinčić Gallery Studio, Klanjec
    • 2021 – “Špud – Povratak” – Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb
    • 2022 – “Collection of the Antun Augustinčić Gallery Salon 1992. – 2022.” – Antun Augustinčić Gallery Studio, Klanjec
    • 2022 – “14th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture” – Barrel Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2023 – “Carte Blanche” – Barrel Gallery, Zagreb
    • 2023 – “Four Elements” – Museum of Fine Arts, Split
    • Photo: Goran Vranić and National Museum of Modern Art's archives © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.

Nikola Pjevačević
Tree Alley


The audience in Zagreb will have an opportunity to view the works from Nikola Pjevačević’s recent cycle titled “Tree Alley” from 4 July to 27 August at the Josip Račić Gallery. It is an exhibition that this young artist received as an award from the expert jury of the National Museum of Modern Art for his powerful large-scale monochromatic polyptych from the cycle “Dusk”, presented as part of the 6th Biennial of Painting held at the HDLU in 2021. The exhibition is conceived by Željko Marciuš, NNMU museum consultant, who is, together with Nikola Pjevačević and Tihana Galić, curator and manager of the Josip Račić Gallery, also the author of the visual set-up. The works selected for the exhibition have been executed in the technique of carved wood and encaustic – a technique known since ancient times.

(...) The artist’s painterly reliefs, as a touch of nature, allude to wood as a structural element of the composition, simplified as cells. Then, they refer to wood or a tree as a plant consisting of roots, trunk, and crown, and finally, as a tree that humans have marked. (...) The Tree Alley becomes a valid metaphor for the impetus-providing exploration preserved in the experience of the cosmos, nature, culture, individual and collective consciousness, spread between – for each person individually – the unity of different universes and the universe of different unities.
Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art, excerpt from the text in the exhibition catalogue.

Nikola Pjevačević (Beli Manastir, 1993) graduated in 2019 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, in the class of professors Duje Jurić and Matko Vekić.
He has staged five solo exhibitions and participated in twelve juried and invitational group exhibitions, including the 16th and 17th Erste Fragments
(awarded the Grand Prix) and the 6th Biennial of Painting (award for the Best Young Artist and NMMU Award for Solo Exhibition). His work is part of
the collection of drawings and prints from 1945 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek. He currently works as an external associate at the Academy of
Arts and Culture in Osijek. He lives and works in Zagreb.

Solo exhibition
Black silence,
Lađa X
Gallery, ARL Dubrovnik

On common ground
Gallery Kranjčar, Zagreb

Black Silence,
Gallery, HDLU Osijek

Salon Galić Gallery,
HULU Split

SC Gallery,

Group exhibition
28th Slavonic Biennial,
New Paradigms of Happiness – from
Osijek’s Dada to Contemporary Chaos,
Museum of Fine Arts, Osijek

Another dimension,
SC Gallery, Zagreb
Cave’s cave, AMZ Gallery, Zagreb

6th Biennale of
Painting, City Museum, Eltz Castle, Vukovar
6th Biennale of Painting,Istrian
Parliament, Poreč
6th Biennale of Painting, City Museum, Art Gallery,
Varaždin, 2021

6th Biennale of Painting, HDLU / HDLU Galleries,
Annual exhibition
of HDLU members (invited author), HDLU Galleries, Zagreb
Erste Fragments 17, Lauba, Zagreb

Ethereal narratives,
Kranjčar Gallery, Zagreb
Erste Fragment 16, Lauba, Zagreb

Towards the Biennial of Painting,
Šira Gallery, Zagreb

6th Painting Biennale, award for
the best young artist, Zagreb

6th Painting Biennale, NMMU award, Zagreb
Grand prix Purchase of work at Erste
Fragments 17, Grand prix, Zagreb

Purchase of work at Erste Fragments 16,

Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Images: From the Nikola Pjevačević's  Tree Alley exhibition display at the Josip Račić Gallery  / Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.

Amela Frankl
A Stone on a Branch


With the exhibition A Stone on a Branch at the Josip Račić Gallery, visual artist Amela Frankl continues her complex artistic project Black Glass on the Way, that she intends to develop in different media and disciplines in several consecutive exhibitions, in various exhibition spaces. Her multidisciplinary artistic practice includes everything from painting to social sculpture, from creating an art object to participatory performative events, regularly personal life situations and family history.
The framework of the exhibition is a series of posters, about which the art historian and exhibition curator Branko Franceschi writes in the foreword of the exhibition: The posters, as a dialogue between the artist and the designers,are based on performative black and white photographs focused on the figure, gesture and facial expression of the artist, in order to demonstrate the intensity of her inner dialogue processes. Direct and confessional statements delivered as unexpectedly witty colloquial phrases, in more or less rhyming stanzas and uniform font and position, are placed at the bottom of the visual as their integral part, much like film subtitles. In a steady rhythm, similar to a film reel or a photo-novel, the posters completely saturate the parameters of the exhibition space. - and continues: Two video works with sounds and colours that refer to the context of Mauritania, are presented as a discursive pair to this uniform, black-and-white series of static situations. The first, PK22, presents a recording of the physically demanding local fishing method, which can easily be interpreted, from a Western voyeuristic perspective, as an exciting choreography. The second, titled the Last Motif but One, is a performance of the artist’s direct confrontation with the vast desert landscape on the edge of a beaten road that meanders into space until it exits the frame.

Amela Frankl’s A Stone on a Branch exhibition that the National Museum of Modern Art will present at the Josip Račić Gallery from 31 st May – 2nd July is conceived and set-up by the NMMU director, Branko Franceschi.

Artist’s biography
Amela Frankl is a visual artist, born in Zagreb in 1963. She obtained a degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. She is a member of the Croatian Freelance Artists Association. She lives and works in Zagreb. More information on her work:

Amela Frankl, A Stone on a Branch, 2022./2023.
Poster series, digital print on paper, jet coat 200 gr, 70 x 50 cm
Videostill: Miran Krčadinac
Poster design: BilicMuller Design Studio
Proofreading: Martina Fryda Kaurimsky
Translation and adaption into English: Ljiljana Culjak
Tisak: Kvikprint, d.o.o., Zagreb

Vedran Kopljar
(wish i was there) 2

From 4 to 28 May, at the Josip Račić Gallery, the National Museum of Modern Art presents the exhibition “InnerSpacePortals”, by the conceptual artist, painter and performer Vedran Kopljar, who lives and works in Antwerp.It is the first solo exhibition in Croatia of this artist born in Slavonski Brod in 1991, who has lived in Belgium since childhood. The exhibition of the former student and today a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp is conceived by the curator Valerie Verhack. It will showcase ten works from the eponymous series, which the artist has been creating since 2020, specifically, paintings (oils on wood and canvas) that approach abstraction inspired by science fiction television series, films and literature.
In 2019, Vedran Kopljar established the Plank Communication Centre (PCC), hosted by the Belgium museum M Leuven since 2021, through which he explores the boundaries of communication. In 2018, Kopljar developed a body of work depicting organic internal cavities unfolding in different layers of flesh, each of them painted in a different hue. It is part of his InnerSpacePaintings (2018): a series of paintings metaphorically giving form to the spaces deep inside everyone’s body hosting inner emotions and thoughts. The InnerSpacePaintings were amongst others inspired by the desire of thumbsuckers who seek safety and warmth appealing to their first emotions as babies in their mother’s womb. In 2019, Kopljar changed the title of this series to InnerSpacePortals, thereby referring to passages as an inherent part of these works; they are ways of entering inner emotions and thoughts. This exhibition (wish i was there)2 shows the InnerSpacePortals that Kopljar has been painting since 2020. Formally these paintings do no longer reference human organisms but shift towards abstraction inspired by science fiction tv, film and literature. from Valerie Verhack's tekst in the exhibition catalogue.

About the Artist
1991 Slavonski Brod, Croatia
Lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium

2015 MFA in painting, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp

2019 Artist in residence, Residency Unlimited (NYC)
2016 Nominee, Coming People, S.M.A.K.
2014 Winner, STRT schot prijs, Studio Start


2023 (wish i was there)2, Josip Račić Gallery – National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Also (HERE), LambdaLambdaLambda, / Prishtina
2022 The Misadventures of Plank Communication Center, BOEKS, Ghent, Belgium
The Cloud of Unkowing: New Teachings, CASSTL, Antwerpen / Belgium
2020 Center [pl.], CONVENT, Ghent / Belgium
2019 Plank Communication Center: Quarterly Report, RU, Brooklyn, SAD
2018 Vedran Kopljar en Evelin Brosi & Elvis Bonier, Kunsthal Extra City, Antwerpen / Belgium
Thumbsucker’s Delight, Trampoline Gallery, Antwerp / Belgium
2017 Polyvalente zaal, N.I.C.C., Antwerp, / Belgium
2016 A-Amigos, Tique Art Space, Antwerp / Belgium
2015 Trials & Tribulations, Stadslimiet, Antwerp / Belgium
2014 Là-bas, Studio Start, Antwerp / Belgium

2022 Window Openers, Artwell Residency, Amsterdam / Netherlands
2021 The Constant Glitch, Museum M, Leuven / Belgium
Miniheim, Forbidden City, Antwerpen / Belgium
2020 Biënnale van de Schilderkunst, RogerRaveelmuseum, Machelen-Zulte, Belgija / Belgium
2019 Nick Lodgers – Uit Beleefdheid”, M HKA, Antwerp / Belgium
NACHBARBESUCH, TYSON, Köln / Cologne / Germany
TIME & SPACE, HERE & NOW ..., La Piscine d’Activité, Antwerp / Belgium
Positieve berichtgeving – Fluwelen Koord, Pinkie Bowtie, Antwerp / Belgium
Looking at the world through …, PLUS-ONE & Sofie Van de Velde, Antwerp / Belgium
Salon de Peinture, M HKA, Antwerp / Belgium
2018 3 Jaar Oogst, Gallerie Verbeeck – Van Dyck, Antwerp / Belgium
2017 ABC Lounge Klub, ABC Klubhuis, Antwerp / Belgium
Nacht van de beeldende kunst, De Studio, Antwerp / Belgium
2016 NowBelgiumNow, LLS 387, Antwerp / Belgium
Prijs vrienden v/h S.M.A.K., Coming People, S.M.A.K., Ghent / Belgium
Het Zwarte Gat, 252CC, Ekeren / Belgium
Furniture. Sculpture., Art Center Hugo Voeten, Herentals, / Belgium
Verloren Ruimte, Antwerp Art Weekend, Berchem / Belgium
2015 Fascinator, 252cc, Ekeren / Belgium
Nema tog podruma 5: gramme vrijdag, F44, Antwerp / Belgium
Timmeren aan de carrière in het duister, De Studio, Antwerp / Belgium
Als kweeklingen in een school van …, CC Zwanenberg, Heist-op-den-Berg, / Belgium
2014 Boost, CBK, Amsterdam / The Netherlands
A L’etat Sauvage, Maison d’Art & Design, Tronçais / France
We will never surrender, Bries Space, Antwerp / Belgium
Nieuwe Meesters, KASKA, Antwerp / Belgium

2019 Plank Communication Center: Quarterly Report, RU, Brooklyn / SAD
Meeting Center (Plank Communication Center) during
20 jaar S.M.A.K. : De Inleiding (3), S.M.A.K., Ghent / Belgium
2018 Q&A met de innerstem van Vedran Kopljar, Kunsthal Extra City, Antwerp / Belgium
Innerlives: ATS’ers Digest during Night Shift, Beursschouwburg, Brussels / Belgium
Adult Thumbsucker’s Digest, Demian, Antwerp / Belgium
Adult Thumbsucker’s Digest, Trampoline Gallery, Antwerp / Belgium
2017 Verwijdering van Plicht en Toewijding, LLS 387, Antwerp / Belgium
2016 De kleinste dood during Bitte Nicht wecken, LLS 387, Antwerp / Belgium

Image: from the Vedran Kopljar's (wish i was there) 2 exhibition display at the Josip Račić Gallery / Photo: from the National Museum of Modern Art's archives and Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

Translated by: Robertina Tomić

Selma Hafizović

After London, New York, Philadelphia, Stuttgart, Ljubljana and Dubrovnik, with the exhibition “Reproduction”, the artist Selma Hafizović presents her works for the first time to the Zagreb audience, which will be on view at the Josip Račić Gallery from 4 to 30 April.

The exhibition, conceived by art historian Romina Peritz, presents nine recent oils on canvas from the artist’s eponymous series. Selma Hafizović’s painting “Rabbit”, in which she deals with memories and childhood, as well as expectations from her own body, was inspired by children’s books, while the painting “Rose”, as the only one that stands out stylistically in this series with the motifs of pink flowers on a neutral background, is dedicated to the American painter, graphic artist and draughtsman Philip Guston, one of her artistic role models. In the painting “Couple”, the artist evokes a passionate moment between lovers with intense colourway and energetic strokes, while the work “Tootsie Roll” humorously deals with the theme of reproduction through the male body hovering in space with gigantic spermatozoa floating around it.

Selma Hafizović points out: “My intention from the very beginning was to appropriate the artistic language in such a way that gives me continued satisfaction. I wanted my observer to be in a state of cognitive dissonance”. “All the skills that I lack in real life, I possess in painting. You need to have vision but not abide by it, you need to have fear but overcome it, and then after all is said and done you need to be aware that you really know nothing about painting”,

The artist was born in Mostar, raised in Southern California, and she lives and works between New York and Dubrovnik. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and has completed her postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths University of London. She has so far staged 11 solo exhibitions and participated in 11 group exhibitions. She is also well known for her curatorial projects Gatara at the Dubrovnik Summer Games in 2021, and Get Out of My Star at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Zagreb in 2020.
The exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue in Croatian and English.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.

Renata Poljak

From 9 March to 2 April, the National Museum of Modern Art is premiering, at the Josip Račić Gallery, the exhibition News by the internationally recognised Croatian multimedia artist and director Renata Poljak. Conceived by art historian Branko Franceschi, director of the NMMU, the exhibition showcases a selection of works on paper and video from the eponymous artist’s cycle created in the period from the COVID - 19 pandemic to the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Preoccupied with social and political issues for more than two decades, Renata Poljak “speaks” about the current situation. Instead of the original news, she adds text to the newspaper photographs that she appropriated and interpreted in the drawing medium, in which she describes her own experience of what she has seen and read. As Branko Franceschi writes in the accompanying exhibition catalogue - (...) The transfer of a newspaper photograph into a traditional fine art medium, gives its proverbially secondary status as a visual design element of a newspaper article, the aura of an artistic act and, implicitly, eternity. The aura also includes the associated text written in a confessional, diary atmosphere and style, which takes us directly inside the artist’s emotional state and thoughts. In synergy and relying on each other, the textual and visual elements of the work combine the ubiquitous media image of daily events, now recreated and appropriated by hand with a written and published textual description of the artist’s subjective reflection, thus achieving the fullness of the intended effect. A work of art as a point of convergence of the public and the personal, the informative and the reflexive, the factual and the emotional, the objective and the subjective.(...) – and continues -(...) From the phenomenological standpoint, The News indirectly demonstrate the status of the mental space that modern civilisation is shaped around. Our experience of reality is completely immersed into the system of generating and shaping “the news of the world” as the starting point of our personal experience of existence. From the aspect of the current creative paradigm, in turn, by introducing her long-neglected drawing skill into the repertoire of performative strategies, Renata Poljak tells of the wider phenomenon of overcoming the dichotomy of traditional art disciplines and media art that marked the decades at the turn of the millennium. We can optimistically conclude that the nearness of the end has its good sides.

Artist's Biography
Renata Poljak was born in 1974 in Split. After having obtained a degree as a visual arts professor in Split in 1997, she continued her post-graduate studies in 1999, at the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, France. In 2020, she earned a graduate degree in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. In 2002, she was the recipient of the ArtsLink scholarship at the San Francisco Art Institute (US) where she was a visiting artist and mentor to post-graduate students.

She participated in the artist-in-residence programs in the MuseumQuartier, Vienna in 2004, Cite des Arts, Paris in 2007 and 2008, the prestigious Art in General, New York in 2008, followed by Skowhegan, a residential art program in the state of Maine, US in 2009, ArtOmi in the state of New York, US in 2010, as well as the Residency Unlimited in New York in 2011 and 2013. She has also spent 3 months in the residency program at the Centre Les Recollets in Paris. In the spring of 2010, her selected works were showcased at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and she also participated in the Biennale of Contemporary Art de Rennes. In November 2010, her selected works were exhibited at the Carrousel du Louvre in Partis
as part of Paris Photo 2010. In 2012, she staged a solo exhibition of her films at the Palais de Tokyo, as part of the Festival d'Automne à Paris.

Her solo exhibition at the Stephan Stoyanov Gallery in New York was included in the three best exhibitions to see in New York in January 2013, by the New York weekly The Village Voice, while in November 2014, a notable retrospective of her works was opened simultaneously in two galleries, the Optica Art Centre and Occurrence in Montreal, Canada.

Among recent group exhibitions, Poljak has participated in the Prophetia exhibition at the Fundazió Joan Miró in Barcelona and the Stories from the Edge at the Kunsthaus Graz. In 2016, she showcased her recent project Partenza at two solo exhibitions in two Croatian museums, galleries in Zagreb and Paris and the Danubiana Museum in Bratislava.

In 2017, Verlag für moderne Kunst from Vienna published her art book titled Don’t Turn Your Back on Me, which includes essays by Elisabeth Lebovici, Alaine Clair Feldman, Mladen Lucić and others.

In 2018, a solo exhibition titled Yet Another Departure was held at the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, and her work was one of the eleven selected from over 800 artists for the final exhibition at the Metropolitan Art Centre in Belfast, as part of the MAC International Art Prize 2018. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, three of her recent films Yet Another Departure, Porvenir and Split had their debut at the Oberhausen Film Festival, Oberhausen, Germany. Porvenir has won 5 awards at various film festivals. Lars Henrik Gass (director of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen) has included Porvenir in the Top 5 film in 2020 on the Kinoscope platform. In 2019 and 2021, she has participated in the international juried exhibitions Proyector 2021 in Madrid and the Ostrale Biennale in Dresden 2021 and 2023. A review of her solo exhibition Porvenir at the Kranjčar Gallery was published in the Critics’ Picks section of Artforum.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Images:  From Renata Poljak's the "News" exhybition display at the Josip Račić Gallery. Photo: from the NMMU's archives and Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

Nenad Marasović
“Still Life”

From 7 February to 5 March 2023, the National Museum of Modern Art presents, at the Josip Račić Gallery, the exhibition “Still Lifes” by the painter, graphic designer and illustrator Nenad Marasović. The exhibition concept and set-up are authored by Branko Franceschi, art historian and director of the National Museum of Modern Art, who presented, thirty years ago to the day at the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery, Marasović’s works featuring the theme of female body in motion.
For the presentation of the artist’s work on this occasion, he has selected works from the less-known and overlooked segment of Nenad Marasović’s prolific oeuvre. Specifically, 11 oils on canvas from the series of still lifes featuring food motifs, created between 2009 and 2012, which represent, in Branko Franceschi’s opinion, the artist’s best achievement and his true contribution to the genre of still life in Croatian painting. The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue in Croatian and English, published by the National Museum of Modern Art, with a foreword by Branko Franceschi.

(...)In the spirit of original Realism, Marasović is extremely objective in his treatment of the motif. He regularly positions it in the foreground at the centre of the composition, while the background is usually rendered with neutral layers of complementary colour. The colour palette is subdued, muted, and the illumination is evenly distributed, without expressive penetrations of light or its play with shadows. The compositions are seemingly monotonous and descriptive, which is perfectly summed up by the unpretentious titles such as, for example, A Piece of Meat, Rye Bread, Fruit Cake, Salad Ingredients or Three Fishes. But the intense feeling of depicted flesh draws the eye and the attention. The meat is succulent, fresh and healthy, it will whet the appetite of meat lovers like me. The skin and eyes of the fish are moist, the bread crust is hard, and the dough is soft and elastic. Pastry cakes are saccharine sweet, the vegetables are juicy, and the onion skin is suitable shiny, dry and crunchy. It is evident that Marasović adapts the wide array of his artistic expression to the nature of the motif, while evoking different historical approaches to the genre. Realistic depictions of pieces of meat, fruit or bread show that the tradition of convincing Dutch still-life painting has been unbroken since the 16th century, and is still alive and well today. (...) Branko Franceschi, from the text in the exhibition catalogue.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Image: From the Nenad Marasović Still life exhibition set up. Photo: from the National Museum of Modern Art's archives and Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Stipan Tadić
“The Apple Shrinking”

(…) Tadić is interested in the reality that surrounds him, but his distinct astuteness and ability to convey, through the selection of motifs and conception of the composition in the segment of quotidian life, a much deeper view of reality than what directly meets the eye, which makes him an excellent chronicler of everyday situations. (…) Branko Franceschi, excerpt from the text in the exhibition catalogue.

The title of Tadić's Zagreb exhibition, opening at the Račić Gallery on 10 January, is a paraphrase of Melvin Van Peebles’ song The Apple Streching, which describes metropolitan life in New York, immortalised by Grace Jones on the Living My Life LP record in 1982.
Branko Franceschi, director of the National Museum of Modern Art and author of the display concept, chose 18 works for the exhibition of this respectable Croatian painter, comic book author and muralist, who has been living and working in New York since 2018. These are works on paper, oils on canvas, oils on wood and paintings on glass, in which Stipan Tadić records, as if in his own diary, the transformation of the lifestyle habits of New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a different atmosphere that the great city exuded at the time.
Depictions of life and portraits of members of Tadić’s generation are the most striking part of the artist’s New York oeuvre, Branko Franceschi points out, therefore, in addition to the scenes of empty city streets and squares, subway stations, giant residential buildings plunged into the gloomy atmosphere of civilisational standstill, he has also included a portrait of his friend Rene and several of the artist’s self-portraits (Self-Portrait with New Jersey, Self-Portrait in Chinatown, Self-Portrait with Street Food, Walking Through Mott Street).
Stipan Tadić’s exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery will remain on view until 5 February 2023.

Image : From the exhibition set-up. Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb 2023

Anabel Zanze

The National Museum of Modern Art concludes this year’s exhibition activity at the Josip Račić Gallery with Anabel Zanze’s exhibition Letterocracy. It showcases the recent works of this Dubrovnik-born and Zagreb-based visual artist who has, since the mid-1990s, intensively been painting and collaging words and exploring the meaning of messages.
It is clear from the very title – a compound word that combines the Croatian noun “slovo” (letter) with the ancient Greek verb “kratein” (meaning, to rule) – that in Anabel Zanze’s 32nd solo exhibition to date, the letters have the final say. However, this time, through explicit and clear messages that refer to specific events that have deeply shaken the artist.
The artist appropriated Bring Back the Magnolia – originally, a slogan of the community organisation that advocates for transparent management policies and the “green” city of Zagreb – as the title of her polyptych from 2020, which represents, through 16 oil paintings, a form of social criticism and a protest against the felling of the magnolia in front of the Meštrović Pavilion in Zagreb. If it were growing in a more civilised part of the world (I am currently imagining Japan), our magnolia would have still nourished a micro-eco-system in its canopy and under it, and many would have sighed in admiration when it bloomed – Zanze points out.
The polyptych The Young Patrician Woman – letter-registers the expropriation that took place on 5 November 2021 at the National Museum of Modern Art (then the Modern Gallery) in Zagreb, following a court ruling related to the dispute over the ownership of Vlaho Bukovac’s painting “The Young Patrician Woman”. A particular feature of this exhibition is the Braille segment aimed at the visually impaired persons, which the artist executed in collaboration with the Typhlological Museum, thus enabling them to get to know her world through their own.
Visitors who wish to express themselves, comment or leave a message, and thus actively participate in the exhibition, will have an opportunity to do so on the Agora magnetic plate, an object that simulates a square.
The exhibition, curated by Željko Marciuš, NMMU museum consultant, accompanied by a bilingual catalogue in Croatian and English languages, will be on display at the Josip Račić Gallery from 15 December 2022 to 8 January 2023.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Image: Reproduction / from the Anabel Zanze's exhibition Letterocracy at the Josip Račić Gallery / Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022.

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