Sanja Iveković, Personal Cuts, 1982

Sanja Iveković
Personal Cuts, 1982
colour video, MP4
d=3:4 min

The video work “Personal Cuts” by Sanja Iveković (1949) is the only work by this internationally re-nowned Croatian artist and feminist that had its premiere on public television. For years, that is, almost from the very beginning of her artistic activity, Sanja Iveković’s work has been referring to the medium of television, highlighting its role in shaping society and criticising gender stereotypes, the commercialisation of everyday life and the instrumentalization of politics. And just ten years before the dissolution of the country and its media apparatus – before it would again undergo politi-cal instrumentalization within the independent Croatian state – she was given the opportunity to present her new video work to the public through this very medium. The video depicts the artist with a black nylon stocking pulled over her head. At one point, the artist begins to gradually cut the stocking with scissors. Each cut reveals a portion of the artist’s face, and each unveiling of the face is accompanied by a short clip from the archive of the state television news program (in this case, it is a story about the formation and development of socialist Yugoslavia). Each section of the artist’s face freed from the pressure of the stocking is thus analogous to news from the realms of econo-my, politics, sports, or culture. The video concludes at the moment when the stocking no longer covers the artist’s face. This video has so far mostly been interpreted within the context of the re-lationship between the state and the individual, with a particular emphasis on the fact that socialist Yugoslavia was not a parliamentary democracy. From this perspective, the black nylon stocking rep-resents something akin to state ideology, which the artist slowly but successfully removes. Howev-er, what if this analogy is superficial? What if it is merely the first association that comes to mind? What if we pay attention to the “personal” aspect in the title of the artwork? In that case, the phrase “personal cuts” can signify a form of renunciation, a kind of traumatic detachment. And what if we notice that each cut, each act of freeing the face from the pressure of the stocking, is directly connected to a historical and social phenomenon? Doesn't the face then acquire its integri-ty and identity through its relationship with social events, rather than through liberation from them? In other words, there is no separate artistic persona that is independent of society. On the contrary, where society determines the artist the most, she is closest to herself.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Zlatko Keser, Polyphemus’s Dream, 1982

Zlatko Keser
Polyphemus’s Dream, 1982
tempera and oil on canvas
141×282 cm

Zlatko Keser (1942) is an exceptional painter and draughtsman of Abstract Surrealism. He has been painting using his very own technique, which he applies via intense controlled automatism. His themes are subconscious and are brought to the point of flaming and in some paintings even destruction. In that regard, for Keser his paintings and drawings are existence itself. In other words, Keser becomes, according to art historian Igor Zidić, what he does. For him, paper and canvas are energy screens of elusive psychological forces. At the crossroads of sign-like and figurative-abstract relations, Keser’s esoteric oeuvre develops from ecstasy to melancholy, from a flicker to gloominess, from burning to absorption. According to art historian Tonko Maroević, Keser’s paintings are his investment of energy and matter transformed into facts of art.
Keser completed both his undergraduate (in 1967) and graduate studies (in 1969) under Prof. Oton Postružnik at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He worked as an associate at painter Krsto Hegedušić’s master workshop between 1971 and 1975. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb between 1984 and 2008, and in 2014 he was bestowed the title of professor emeritus. His work has been included in many important representative exhibitions since the mid-1980s, and has become unavoidable in context-specific exhibitions that tackle the question of the current state of affairs and the end of painting since the late 1990s. According to art critic and theorist Josip Depolo, all historical and artistic reviews of contemporary Croatian art should devote a special chapter to Keser given that he is a distinct builder of Croatia’s Postmodernism. Keser’s so-called infantile style, lush colouristic magma and contrasting compositions are highly specific. Keser’s art, according to art historian Ivana Mance, relates to spiritual experience. Zlatko Keser’s Polyphemus’s Dream painting from 1982 is one such surreal-mythical visualisation of a hallucinatory impact. He has been a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2004. He has exhibited at numerous solo and group exhibitions in both Croatia and abroad, and is the recipient of the 2015 Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award given annually by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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