The works (fragments) in this series are the dissected parts of a paysage
I photographed in the memorial park Dotrščina in Dubrava, a district of Zagreb. The photograph served as a model and the
body of a painting that I decided to interpret by braking its whole.
After the resigned look in one direction captured by the camera,
I focused on the internal structure of the now flat image (photograph) and searched for the
features and values of each—randomly
chosen—individual “atom” (clip) of the material. The 56 fragments (the number of which is the result of my random
clipping of the whole) are a kind of painting codes, painter’s “words” or “sentences”, which—when separated or
brought together in a new order—create a new and a different whole.
The series’ title “Skriveni format” (hidden format) also refers to the photograph from the
park itself, which I fragmented and thus hid its initial completeness and “true” format.
The series of unnamed paintings was inspired by an incomplete building in Špansko,a district of Zagreb. My first encounter with the lonesome building happened purely
by accident during one of my usual walks around town. It was six years ago (around 2011), when I was only beginning to
build a certain interest in derelict and decayed cityscape, empty architecture often existent on industrial plots and large or small properties where construction has been aborted or abandoned.
The building in question is an abandoned project of French investors E.Leclerc, who planned to build
a shopping mall on the site. Albeit necessarily in the background of the motif, the social context of the building—or
the reasons for its erection and existence—remain in the background of my approach to the subject and my final art
product. To me the derelict structure served as a starting point for new ideas, an empty shell open to different
possibilities of interpretation, a shell from which I decided to emphasise the parts that attracted me the most.
The word unnamed is often used for works of contemporary art, but here it is a more concrete extension of the paintings that establishes the incompleteness and the emptiness of the interior and the exterior. Therefore, the paintings in this series are stripped of title in order to keep the depictions of the building free of unnecessary content, but also to keep them in line with the topic of the empty, unutilised and abandoned building that never got a definite function.
“Setting” is a kind of (sought and) found setting.
In Croatian there is no word whose meaning is equal to the English word setting; therefore the painting’s title is in English.
The painting is about a setting, about painted circumstances of an unknown event. Inverting the tonal values of the scene from positive to negative, I tried to create a more obscure atmosphere, but also hint at something beyond the usual scene you can see in nature. I was interested in what the paysage does not show, a setting without the event (a parergon without the ergon, or both of them simultaneously), all that could have been implied or evoked, called into the conscience of the viewer by the use of the negative and the particular framing of this composition.
Abandoned sites and structures of old industrial zones I used to stumble upon in my neighbourhood kept taking me back to meditations on the Zone from the film “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky. Then I decided to create my own version of the Zone.
In the movie, the Zone is a place in nature, alienated and without the presence of man, full of inexplicable and unusual phenomena assumed to be caused by something extraterrestrial and unknown. Anyone’s presence within the Zone causes changes in its landscape that can sometimes be fatal for the visitor, which is why it is closed and guarded by the authority. Real sites that reminded me of such a zone were the aforementioned industrial spaces on the edges of the town, where dry vegetation and decaying technology intertwine to build a specific, defamiliarised and somewhat post-apocalyptic atmosphere.
Each of the three triptychs (Zona I, Zona II and Zona III) consists of three square format paintings, each of which depicts one segment of paysage. The first and last images in each triptych are landscapes taken from real-life places in Zagreb, while the central painting is a segment of a frame taken from a film. Apart from the landscape, these still images from films—unlike the first and last paintings in each triptych—contain an unobtrusive shape of a film character, which is small and subordinate to the paysage, and thus in a way blended in it.
The films I paused to extract the central paysages are: “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky (Zona I), “Dead Man’s Letters” (Zona III) and “Visitor of a Museum” (Zona II) by Konstantin Lopushanskiy. Among other things, the imagery of decayed landscape is what makes these films similar.
Connected into a triptych, the three paintings are a kind of montage with which I wanted to create one segmented paysage, a paysage of three different works, with the central one intentionally standing out and showing its film origin.
The central painting with the figure points to the mostly inevitable existence of the narrative in film, while there are no characters in the first and last painting because they are more free of the narrative nature. They are paintings of urban sites that are truly empty and abandoned, decayed industrial or once residential plots, places that at the same time speak of everything and nothing.
Therefore, apart from the concrete links with the Zone from the film “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky, my Zones are signifiers of another place, or the other place, which is marked, separated and out of reach. They are places in the form of industrial and construction sites, and, by means of fences and warnings, they are already inaccessible and forbidden to the individual.
As such, I soak them up from a distance, just like the film screen into which—apart from the seen—I am ready to project the unseen in the form of various associations and the separation of everything I wish to adopt as a pocket universe.
In the end, the Zones are these pocket universes in the form of photographs and paintings as a kind of gaze into the unreal of the object before me, first as a film, then as a part of fenced-off, decayed urban landscape.
Just as the smaller diptych Ograda (fence), the diptych Pejzaž (Nostalghia) (paysage; nostalgia) is a work that contains no image from a film, but depicts the decayed paysage of an abandoned construction site in Zagreb, and a piece of grassy pasture from the countryside (Hrvatsko Zagorje). The diptych connects two different kinds of paysage that have surrounded me from my infancy. I wish not to give precedence to either, but instead to blend them in a montaged whole that need not fully overlap visually, but rather give a sort of calm dialogue.
The word Nostalghia in the title is, like Zona (from the film “Stalker”), a reference to the film of the same title by A. Tarkovsky. In it, nostalgia causes the protagonist, who is far from his homeland, to reminisce about the landscape of his home. At the end of the film, Tarkovsky splendidly represents this by blending the two landscapes. Within the ruined walls of the old Italian building (church), he places the downsized pasture and protagonist’s house with him and his dog sitting together on the grass.
In his book “Sculpting in Time,” Andrei Tarkovsky writes: “The greatness and ambiguity of art lies in not proving, not explaining and not answering questions even when it throws up warning inscriptions like, 'Caution! Radiation! Danger!' Its influence has to do with moral and ethical upheaval. And those who remain indifferent to its emotional reasoning, and fail to believe it, run the risk of radiation sickness…“
The ghost town with its rusty industrial structures and the defamiliarised landscape of the Zone with its tank wrecks, decayed buildings and chemically polluted river give a shocking, unsettling and unhealthy example of human habitation environment.
By shooting his film in 1979, Tarkovsky almost foretold the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and confirmed Pushkin’s lines about the prophet artist (poet) he quoted in his book. There is a striking resemblance between photographs of the Ukrainian ghost town Pripyat, where the nuclear power station reactor exploded, and the scenes from the film “Stalker.”
“Čistači” (cleaners) were inspired by elements of the film “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky, whose imagery often evokes pictures of the real environmental disaster of Chernobyl. With these associations in mind, I produced several paintings with the figure of a man in a hazard suit, reminiscent of workers or scientists in a nuclear power station, who are at the same time the only ones who risk their own lives repairing and decontaminating the polluted area. “Čistač” (cleaner) is an anonymous figure, a metaimage of man’s involvement in and effect on the world around him, with consequences also reflected upon himself.