Nevenka Šivavec
Likovne Besede, št.35-37, maj 1996, str. 154 1996

 

Just as we might scoff at the works of art of amateurs - more at the glaring transparency of the naive and at the romantic idea which is perceived in the cult of nature and simple humanism, than at their stiff awkwardness - we might, likewise, though paradoxically, be completely captivated precisely by the purity and almost childlike poetics created by the young sculptor Damjan Kracina. All his works evidence his power of suggestion, even those adorned with ironical undertones and witty contexts. Kracina masterly clarified his unconventional artistic stance, especially in comparison to the strong formalistic tradition of Slovene sculpture, at the Center for Modern Art in Ujazdowski, Warsaw, in March this year. He evoked an extreme poetic and emotional charge by contrasting two formally related, although associatively completely opposite, visual units. The first unit represents the Kracina TV installation that was on display at the Kapelica gallery in Ljubljana in 1995. It’s a hyper-realistic self-portrait made of polyester, staring at the floor; upon it are metal boxes with illuminated photographs of trampled cats. The installation initiates an associative chain reaction in the viewer: death, television, dying in public, blood, indifference, despair... The poetic, with a metaphysical charge marking the contrast between the harsh visual and emotional complex, is presented in a catalogue - with a light blue sky and fluffy clouds swelling over the edge of the cover - at the Ljubljana exhibit. The metaphysical half in Warsaw was represented by photographs of trout in an aquarium with inlaid neon plexiglass. The trout were hanging on the wall, causing an abrupt change in the associative current: freshness, life, cleanliness, peace... In a darkened exhibition room the viewer is offered in exchange for horror, a metaphysical surfeit, in the context of unequivocal nature. Sentimental and too beautiful - as if propagated by romanticism.

To achieve such effects, Kracina had to explicitly divert from gnawing through the aesthetic and formal effects of his installations; actually, from the sculpture medium. Thus the final impression from his exhibit is really extremely pictorial. His art is enhanced by some sort of ethical content. One could even go so far as to say that Kracina has sparked the development of a program reform vision, although rare in Slovene visual production; a result from the literal conception of the destined and almost shaman role of the artist, which will mark the beginning of the new millennium.

Nevenka Šivavec

Translation: Nives Kreuh & Rachel Miovic