On the eve of tomorrow’s opening of the exhibition Encumbered Objectivity in the Josip Račić Gallery, the NMMU presents to you the multi-awarded artist of the younger generation, Mako Melcher

NMMU: Tell us something about the works you are showcasing at your ninth solo exhibition, Crumpled Objectlessness, at the Josip Račić Gallery?
MAK MELCHER: The works are part of a series that I’ve been creating over the past two years. Exploring the matter and materials led me to graphite, and later to ink. As a logical progression, paper emerged, which I subsequently began to crumple, giving it an entirely new dimension of volume, which feels natural to me. I refer to them as drawings; they are of large formats and have evolved from my previous cycle, “Drapery”.

NMMU: Why paper?
MAK MELCHER: I wouldn’t know. Graphite was interesting to me, ink as well. I started with these materials, and paper probably came naturally.

NMMU: Do you contemplate your creative process, or are the resulting works simply a product of the moment, emotion, and context?
MAK MELCHER: A combination of all of the above, and I would add experience and maturity. Spontaneity.

NMMU: Which of your works would you consider as the most challenging so far and why?
MAK MELCHER: All the clay works have been quite challenging. You don’t know what you’re doing, how it will turn out in the end, but you go with the feeling as if you do know. Given that they often involved large weights and formats, it was always demanding and challenging. Upon closer reflection, every new or future work is the most challenging for me.

NMMU: You graduated from the School of Applied Arts and Design. How does it feel to teach in the classrooms where you once sat as a student?
MAK MELCHER: It’s a school with 140 years of tradition in artistic education, with 140 years of memory of space, of all the students and professors who have shaped it. The hallways are adorned with murals, wrought iron fences, and all the other architectural elements crafted by those same students. I feel wonderful and also filled with a great sense of responsibility!

NMMU: Are you a strict teacher?
MAK MELCHER: I try to be fair.

NMMU: What would you like to be remembered for by your students?
MAK MELCHER: By name. ????

NMMU: Who has had the most significant professional influence on you?
MAK MELCHER: All of my life experiences and situations, of which there have been many and in a very wide spectrum, have equally influenced me and my understanding of the environment in which I live and create.

NMMU: How do you remember the recently deceased academician Marija Ujević Galetović, whom you worked with as an assistant?
MAK MELCHER: Marija was a wonderful person, humorous, strict and disciplined as a sculptor, an excellent cook, and a very warm individual. I loved listening to her; she was very straightforward in her approach. A great sculptor. A friend. Many beautiful memories remain.

NMMU: You graduated in 2008 in the class of Professor Miro Vuco at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. What were your expectations back then, and what did you dream about? How did you envision your career?
MAK MELCHER: I didn’t have any specific expectations. Throughout that time, I tried to absorb as much diverse knowledge, skills, and crafts from all the professors and colleagues. I never limited myself to just one mentor or source. As for how I envisioned my career? Well, I don’t know, I always just wanted to work, create, and I knew that through hard work and effort, I would find my place. Wherever that might be!

NMMU: Could you tell us something about your collaboration with sculptor Dalibor Stošić?
MAK MELCHER: Dalibor and I have been collaborating continuously for 13 years. His trust in me as a senior colleague speaks volumes about our relationship. When a renowned sculptor, who primarily works in traditional sculptural materials like wood and steel, entrusts you with something that is most important and sacred to him with complete confidence, it’s a significant and rare thing, not to mention the responsibility! Today, we are very close friends and continue to collaborate intensively.

NMMU: What memories do you have of Paris and your stay at the prestigious artistic residency at Cité Internationale des Arts?
MAK MELCHER: When you come from a small town where what you do is not felt, let alone appreciated, the feeling is special. You feel at home. You quickly adapt and receive, if you didn’t already have it, confirmation that what you do does make sense. In my case, after returning, I was even more inspired, and my ambitions grew. Regardless of the fact that we live in a different environment, you see that you are part of something that is global.

NMMU: Do you think artificial intelligence in various fields of art can be “more powerful” than human talent and creativity?
MAK MELCHER: It depends on the criteria. By my criteria, definitely not.

NMMU: How do you see your future?
MAK MELCHER: Bright and potent! As Miro Vuco would say, “BRILLIANT.”

NMMU: What is your favourite museum in the world?
MAK MELCHER: I’ve seen relatively few of them, but I felt most comfortable at the Giacometti Institute and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Interviewed by: Lana Šetka © National Museum of Modern Art 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić

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