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ARCHIVE · 2006

Low Season 

From December 21, 2006 until January 4, 2007

The story of the exhibition, created in counterpart to the concrete venue of the Museum Modern Art in Dubrovnik, and to, as the title itself suggests, Low Season, the time of year, unfolds in seven segments, from the ground floor to the second floor. As in many of his works produced to date, through the motif of the city of Dubrovnik and its fate, both that of the wartime tragedy, and of a peacetime characterised by fatally entropic processes, the author inserts his own intimate topic, his mood and worldview. 
In a complicity of the subjective, internal and the immediate external microcosm, making high quality use of the significance of Dubrovnik as symbol of civilisation and ideas of both urban and natural beauty, the artist manners to rise above the hermeticism of the specific local characteristics, elevating them to the level of universal and globally intelligible signs. 
The means that the author has used in the construction of the exhibition are concrete objects taken out of the city milieu. Via the use of videos, the human faces and voices and other venues of the city have come into the museum, and the very place in which the exhibition is taking place has been transformed into a stylised city piazza, a street, multiplied in the image and turning into an exhibit of itself.
Thus in the ground floor we find a hardly negotiable space crammed with café tables, meaning that visitors have to enter via an improvised wooden construction of stairs and boards placed over the tables. Then, the visitor will encounter the Map of the City, with a notice board-cum-summary of the information places in the city that inform its guests about the destruction of the war. Now, however, in the places of signs of shells that have fallen and ruined parts of the city, we find signs for cafés and restaurants, that, consistently with the original meaning of the notice board, suggest menace, suggest that the city is occupied with an unnatural invasion, physically blocked, and hence the damage to the spirituality of its space.
On the museum’s first floor, on a long slanting pedestal that faithfully mimics the slope of Zlatarska ulica, location of the cult café Libertina, owned by the musician and member of the celebrated group Dubrovački trubaduri, Luči Capurso, there are eight cheap plastic chairs on a metal construction, from this same café. All of them are damaged in remarkably the same way, by cracks or scores in the same places of their backs, arising in some inexplicable way, but probably as a result of the slope of the street. The artist has taken this physical phenomenon as a metonym for the people, the customers of this café. Most of them, explains Tolj, including then the owner himself, bear the problems of the city as their own, all of them possess the same metaphorical crack, the same wound or fault as the seats upon which they sit. (…) In fact, these are things, a space, and people, beyond the sphere of the competitiveness of today’s world, an enclave of humanity that is mere backward noise in the system of contemporaneity that mercilessly devastates its own landscape using elements of the past only in the form of fake decorative details.
(…) In the central grand area of the museum, on the wall above the fireplace, is a photograph placed opposite the sliding glass doors of the same space through which the sea and Lokrum can be seen, as well as a reflection of the lights of four of the showy original chandeliers, left over from the time when the museum was the private residence of a rich ship owner. These chandeliers, however, have been taken down and placed on the floor of the room, so that any possibility of them being switched on and of their lights being in consequence reflected in the glass that divides the room from the terrace is eliminated. The light has vanished, only the reflection remains. 
(...) The last work, Signing Off, is seen through a spy glass in the wall of the last room into which, by the removal of the door, entry is impossible. Inside there is a black and white television with a recording of the closing credits of Croatian TV with the sounds of the national anthem and the fluttering national flag. This is a work with several layers of meaning. Apart from the minimising of the image through the optics of the spy glass, thus stylising the distance between Dubrovnik and the national capital, the author creates an inversion between the meaning of the intimate space (reflected by the topic of reflection, memory, the memory of the light – in the central room from which the work can be seen) and the political (or national), represented by the flag and anthem, privileging however the first. 
(…)In this last work the city theme is unexpectedly expanded and at the same time – Signing off – ends the show. But its universalism is never for a moment brought into question. None of these works has remained at the level of the local point of departure, just as none of them has remained at just a single simplified semantic stratum. In spite of the simplicity of the primary attitude and the minimalism of the expression, the performative and formal concision, this exhibition is a complex expression of Tolj’s human and artistic personality, of his perception of the world. It is an area of an extremely well-caught balance and complementation of relations of motifs and venue, theme and material presentation, concrete and metaphoric, things and words. There is a particular complexity in the interweaving of the as-found spatial arrangement and the individual works that ultimately create a single organic ambience. Hence the experience of the exhibition takes on the luxury of complexity: sensations that move in a range from anxiety to empathy and tenderness, from melancholy to the ceremoniously hymnal, which in the literal strains of the national anthem finds just a distant echo. (…)
(Antun Maračić) 

Slaven Tolj was born in Dubrovnik on April 14, 1964.
In 1987 he took a degree in printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. 
Since 1988 he has been leader of the Dubrovnik Lazareti Art Workshop. 
Since 2001 he has been a member of the New Media Culture Council of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia (chairperson since 2004).
In 2005 he was selector and curator for the Croatian showing at the 51st Venice Biennale.
As multimedia artist, he has been active since 1987. He does actions and performances, shows his work in individual and in many group exhibitions at home and abroad.
Slaven Tolj lives in Dubrovnik.

Paintings and drawings 1906-1974
From the collections Klovićevi dvori Gallery and Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik 

Exhibition curated by Jasmina Bavoljak
December 21, 2006 to February 4, 2007


Oskar Herman (1886-1974) started his journey in art a hundred years ago. As an eighteen-year-old, he painted amazingly mature pictures (Landscape from the Surrounds of Zagreb, 1904; Jelačićev trg, 1905). When he left for Munich and the study of painting, first of all in the private school of Anton Ažbe, and then at the Academy, his early work became inextricably linked with the beginnings of a new orientation in painting known today as the Munich Circle (Josip Račić, Miroslav Kraljević, Vladimir Becić, Oskar Herman). Ažbe’s famed “spherical principle” and an expressive tonal construction are characteristics of Račić’s and Herman’s early drawings (1905-1906), and what Herman painted in 1907 (Little Girl, Old Man, Woman with Folded Arms) is along the same lines as the formal and stylistic strivings and productions developed first of all by Račić and then by Becić and Kraljević. 
Starting in 1909, Herman went through the deepest transformation of his spiritual and painterly being and this, in fact, determined the whole of his future creative path. The initial push or crucial contact was the painting of Hans von Marées, German 19th century painter who was misunderstood and unrecognised during his lifetime, obsessed by the aspiration to create something lasting out of art, beyond the world of ephemeral perception, who created works infused with a profound feeling of mystical silence and philosophical distance. This spiritual dimension, mixed with melancholy, suffuses Herman’s paintings and drawings created during the 1910s, as well as those from the decades to come, when the symbolic imagination of legends, idylls and Arcadian reveries gave ground to everyday motifs. To be more precise, if generalising, in the period between the two ears, there were two lines of development in Herman’s painting. Some works are dominated by a sensuous opulence achieved by a brightening of the palette, colourist richness and emphatic impastos, while in others there is an obscure and mysterious emptiness, an abandonment that quietly flows over the ground, creeps into the treetops, washes out the façades of the houses, isolates the people, frets the clouds. The atmosphere of loneliness, retirement or hidden but emotionally warm contacts also permeates the post-war paintings created in the second half of the 1940s and the first part of the 1950s. This ‘distant vision’, enigmatic and disturbing, is the depth, the universe of the internal that Herman always strove for and endeavoured to foreground, on the surface of the painting, first of all symbolically and then by the force of pure expression. “I tried as a painter to shape what I had seen in the interior vision,” said Herman. In the mid-fifties came the first synthetic landscapes in the setting of pure expression. After that, during the coming decades, came the most fruitful Herman period, in which there was a dizzying interchange of oils, gouaches and temperas. In oils it was imaginary landscapes that dominated, the visibility of which was achieved entirely by intensity of paint, with dense applications of material, emphasised by the strokes of the brush. In the gouaches there are mainly human figures: one, two, three – most of all heads: full face, profile, semi-profile, but also busts and torsos, hundreds of them, powerfully outlined, vigorously colourist or perhaps, quite to the contrary, practically monochrome. Painting became a kind of commitment to process, a continuous activity in which the individual work falls into the background; primarily the painting is like an ecstasy, a complete unification of painter and painting.
When Herman painted Tuga / Grief (1974), his last work, he was only five or six years away from the appearance of neo-Expressionism that burst with such a fanfare upon the European and American art scenes.
(Zdenko Rus)


Curated by Marina Viculin
November 17, 2006 to December 10, 2006

The photographs of Nenad Gattin were produced in collaboration with some of the big names of history and theory of art in Croatia such as Branko Fučić, Cvito Fisković, Radovan Ivančević, Vera Horvat Pintarić and Mladen Pejaković, and formed the groundwork for celebrated monographs such as Juraj Dalmatinac [George of Dalmatia], Dubrovnik, Radovan, Diocletian’s Palace, Early Croatian Sacred Architecture, Istrian Frescos and others.
Although he worked on commission, Gattin felt of his work as an artistic activity, as a creative interpretation of the monumental heritage. He was a master of the black and white photograph, with an outstanding sensitivity for light, and his framing was precise, his angle of vision adroitly selected.

Nenad Gattin was born in Trogir on August 10, 1930.
From 1952 to 1957 he studied history of art at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb. Concurrently with his studies he worked as a professional photographer for the Departement of History of Art from 1954. It was then that he began taking photographs of cultural monuments and works of art in various locations. In 1964 he became a member of the Association of Visual Artist of Croatia (ULUPUH).
Nenad Gattin died in Zagreb on April 19, 1988.
The Nenad Gattin heritage comprises 23 000 negatives, mostly of monumental photographs.

Paintings 1970-2004

October 13 to November 9, 2006

(…) Morphologically, Trostmann’s oeuvre, there is no doubt, is in key with the thrusts of Impressionism and Expressionism made long since, or, perhaps better put, marked by the possibilities of immediate impression and the potential of powerful emotional, colouristic and gesturally vehement expressiveness. However much he consciously and deliberately adopted from historical forebears and models, to an equal extent, with good reason, he worked upon the impulses acquired, that is, with inspiration and intuition adjusted them to the requirements of the concrete ambience, the given motif and subject for painting.
(Tonko Maroević, from a monograph about Trostmann)

Josip Trostmann was born in Dubrovnik on June 9, 1938.
He spent his childhood in Dubrovnik, where, from the age of ten, he started to attend a painting evening class run by Ivo Dulčić. In 1963 he took his degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, and the same year became a member of HDLU, the Croatian fine arts association, and had his first one-man show in Dubrovnik. From 1968 until very recently he was involved in educational work, but also was very vigorous in his work in painting. He has taken part in numerous individual and collective exhibitions at home and abroad.

An Umbraculum for Dubrovnik

From July 8 until September 15, 2006

The central motif or topos of Jan Fabre works, in whatever medium they are created – death - is the basic Fabre fixation. Death in all of its possible aspects: as motif, verbal, title, sign, material, prop. Thus Fabre in works that are called Angel of Death, Umbraculum, Sepulchre, Skull, Hanged…uses thousands of dead insects, birds and rodents, human skulls and bones. There are also crutches and wheelchairs, items that indicate disability, dysfunction, the stage on the way to death, as well as sarcophaguses, dead machines… There are also along with the literal carapaces of insects and the motifs of human shells, robes and cowls that with their coagulated emptiness stress the absence of the physical being, three dimensional depictions such as shadows and echoes... In short, this is an extensive and drawn-out memento mori, extended in time and space in a ramified gamut of references, symbols and signs.
Comparing and contrasting then the multiplicity of appearances and the character of Fabre’s work with its topic, our immediate reaction is to say it comprises a powerful paradox, an oxymoron of activist mentality and thematic hopelessness. (…)

With his work, Fabre, it would seem, conveys the idea that death can be the generator of life. When we come to terms with the menace of its emptiness and when we incarnate its visions, when we give vent to material metaphors, use its signs, symbols and attributes and materials. When we are constantly faced with the memento of death, we will live more vigorously, more to the full, more vigilantly, will feel the fact of being in enhanced form. Then death, as the artist himself says, becomes something “that is not negative, rather constitutes a field of positive energy. The idea of some kind of phase of life post-mortem”.

Setting up thus an ultra-familiar relationship with the idea and subject of death, Fabre manages to strip himself of respect for the dead as reliquary or holiness. He thoroughly disregards profane scruples, taste and moderation, cultivating moral obligations to his own vocation or mission alone, to his own visions that he puts into practice literally, consistently and without compromise. Ruthlessly, Fabre uses the carcases of animals, real human bones, which he cuts into slices and makes anthropomorphic shapes or membranes out of them. He fills skulls with dead little creatures and lines them with the shining carapaces of scarabs. Cruelly as a child, Fabre tears beetles to pieces and led by his uninhibited associations builds on their bodies with items like scalpel blades, the spirals of corkscrews. And – frequently – Fabre uses a certain amount of redundancy, accentuating the beetles’ already existing characteristics and abilities to attack and to defend themselves (by pinching, cutting, stabbing) and so on with the additional tools.
Insects are a special chapter or rather a trademark in this artist. As a boy he was deeply affected by the Marvel of Instinct in the Insects by his namesake (and distant ancestor) Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915), whose book he not only studied but, in the manner of a palimpsest, on which he drew hybrid forms of the most diverse insectoid creatures and turned into the Book of Insects of Jan Fabre. He uses bugs in various forms, as motif, symbol, material, often in vast quantities, obtaining them in bulk from foreign parts. It seems that it is precisely the insect, as entity and idea, that is capable of sublimating the quantity and degree of contradictoriness or paradoxicality that determine the whole of Fabre’s work.(…) In human representations it symbols of transcendence, which particular refers to Fabre’s favourite, the scarab, which in the time of the ancient Egyptians symbolised the sun itself, then resurrection, the principle of eternal return. The shell of the scarab, according to Fabre, represents “the spiritual body, the armour of the angel, of male and female angles”, or the “scarab that stands as bridge to death or start of a new life”.
Such a comprehensiveness of significance moves Fabre to use it in numerous circumstances, to apply it on various grounds (such as beds, crosses, sarcophaguses) but also creating narrative scenes of models of battlefields in which he arranges the bugs into opposing armies. (...) 
At this great exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, in drawings, objects, films and ambiences, it is possible to try out and learn about the whole complexity of the Fabre oeuvre. This is particularly feasible in the monumental and surreal ambience at the entrance to gallery and exhibition. This is to do with the Dubrovnik version of the celebrated installation Umbraculum (A place in the shadow away from the world, to think and work). This is a remarkably contemplative work that includes all the characteristic and productive contradictions of the artist: obsessive abundance and careful measured quantification, rusticity and refinement, horror and ceremony, death, and the transcendence of death.

(From the introduction text by Antun Maracic)

Jan Fabre was born in Antwerp in 1958.
Over the past three decades he has been active as visual and performance artist, theatre author. He studied at the Decorative Arts Institute and the Royal Art Academy in Antwerp.
From 1976-81 he was actively involved in the art of performance, which is clearly reflected in his theatrical work in which body expression is stressed.
He takes part in the most prestigious exhibitions in the world, such as the Venice Biennale on several occasions, Sao Paulo and Istanbul Biennials, Kassel Documenta...
Jan Fabre was the main creator of the 2005 Avignon Festival programme.
His performances have taken place in many European countries, America, Japan and Australia and his works are parts of the collections of some of the most renowned museums and art galleries in Europe.
Jan Fabre is an artist of paramount significance in Belgian contemporary art and one of the most inventive and most versatile artists of our time.

Photography 1954-2004
Curated by Dubravka Osrečki Jakelić
From June 12 until July 11, 2006


As long-time photographer for the editorials of various Zagreb weeklies and then as a freelance photographer, Mladen Tudor brought back from his forays into the city or business trips productions that went for beyond the confines of the modest requirements of the press, the daily needs of easily readable reporting. Comprehending in his shots many more hidden then merely mechanically visible items, instead of bare moments Tudor recorded the thickness of the layers of the epoch.
He started off in the mid-fifties, at a time when the poetics of the Italian neo-realistic film had already been established, when the enormously inspirational New York exhibition Family of Man by Edward Steichen had already been seen, and when photographic journalism of the Magnum Agency and in particular the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson had defined the contemporary sensibility. It is fairly easy to spot traces of this work in film and photography, concerned with a profound interest in people, their fates and social contexts, in the particular case of Tudor's original work.
Photographing the most diverse urban and rural, domestic and international settings during his long professional career, concomitantly with deep understanding and compassion for the actors of the scenes captured, Tudor was also able to avoid tear-jerking single-dimensional rhetoric or harsh criticism. Nothing the complexity of relationships, the pregnancy inherent in their plasticity, and often the humour, Tudor regularly managed to dampen down the view, make composition into a field of corresponding events and fill it with complex significance.
In his rounded cycles Return of the Guest Workers (1978) and The Port of Rijeka (1980) Tudor shows his capacity for feeling with the people from understrata of life, with the travelling breadwinners and their varied fates.
An interest in the constellation of objects themselves in nature or the urban setting, most often in the connection of one and the other, is completely dominant in the most recent cycle created in the new century and millennium. The human figure has faded away, and only traces of human activity can be seen, rather, signs of absence, in things consigned to their fates. And still, of course, with a keen eye Tudor detects and includes events that preceded the shot or that are outside the frame, creating bizarre links and effects of humour.

(From the introduction text by Antun Maracic)

Mladen Tudor was born in Split 1935. Tudor enrolled in the Applied Arts School in 1951, graduating, from the Photographic Department, in 1955. From 1957 he was on the full time staff on the Vjesnik organisation. He did the news photography as a staff photographer in Vjesnik u srijedu, Globus and later Start. He quit full-time staffing in 1974. and became freelancer. He was a member of the Croatian applied artist association ULUPUH from 1965. 
He publish several monographs (Photo: Mladen Tudor, 1980., Mediterranean Games, 1983, The Alka of Sinj, 1987). For the visual identity of the 8th Mediterranean Game sin Split in 1983 he received, as member of the CIO Team, the annual Vladimir Nazor Prize.
Tudor had his first one-man show in the Tošo Dabac Archive in 1981, and apart from this one in the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, of a total of seven, the last one in the Museum for Art and Craft in Zagreb 2005. He has exhibited in score of collective exhibitions at home and abroad. Mladen Tudor lives in Zagreb. 

Croatian Art from 19 until 21 sanctuary
From June 12 until July 11, 2006


The exhibition Selection from the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik Collection, Croatian Art from 19 until 21 sanctuary present selection from the rich art collections of the Museum, the works of classical authors of Croatian modern and contemporary art:: Vlaho Bukovac, Mate Celestin Medović, Ivan Meštrović, Emanuel Vidović, Ivo Dulčić, Ivan Kožarić, Julije Knifer..., and youngest artists as Braco Dimitrijević, Željko Jerman, Igor Rončević, Duje Jurić, Viktor Daldon, Ivan Skvrce... 

From March 3 until April 3 (extended until April 30), 2006

This exhibition in space of Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik present the Croatian exhibition at 51st Venice Biennal originally seted at Museo Fortuny from July until November 2005.
This works are now in collection Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik.

Commissioner of the Croatian exhibition at the 51st Venice Biennale is artist Slaven Tolj from Dubrovnik, and he select the artist: Pasko Burđelez, Zlatan Dumanić, Alen Floričić, Tomo Savić Gecan, Boris Šincek i Goran Trbuljak.
Organisation: Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik 
Co-organisation: Art Workshop Lazareti, Dubrovnik

Autors of the cataloque eseys: Slaven Tolj, Antun Maračić, Evelina Turković, Ivana Mance, Antonia Majača, Ana Dević, Ivana Sajko, Olga Majcen.
Graphic Design: Petikat (Boris Greiner and Stanislav Habjan)

Exhibition was under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, and made possible by City Dubrovnik, City Zagreb, City Split and sponsors Filip Trade (Zagreb), Ataman (Zagreb), Dom izgradnja d.o.o., Tovjerna Sesame (Dubrovnik), Slaven Tolj and Antun Maračić (Dubrovnik).


The fact that the choice of artists to represent Croatia at this year’s Venice Biennial has been confided to an artist is of crucial importance for the profile of the selection itself. In truth, when we are speaking about Slaven Tolj (for he is the commissioner in question) we cannot talk about an "ordinary" artist because, apart from being an author from Dubrovnik with an international reputation, he is also the director of the widely-renowned cultural center Art Workshop Lazareti, which has for 15 years been promoting in this part of Croatia and the world the most recent and the most vital of contemporary (visual, film, theater…) art. This circumstance is, however, a more or less profane aspect of things, because in pausing upon it we start at once to talk of his organizational readiness for this endeavor. And indeed, this capacity was largely one of the reasons for his being chosen as commissioner. But, what is more essential still are the creative and spiritual inclinations of Slaven Tolj the artist which define the poetics of his work, as well as the manner of work and the contents of the program of Lazareti and, ultimately, the nature of the Croatian exhibition. Something about him, then, as an artist: Slaven Tolj (1964) is one of the younger Croatian artists, who developed under the wing of new artistic praxis present in Croatia in all its heterogeneity of media and poetics from the end of the 1960s onwards. This is a term that includes post-object art, Fluxus, happenings, land art, conceptual art, new and newer media like photography and video, and so on. Slaven was brought up on examples of spare (reflections of Arte povera) and concise manners of expression, performance art with which, with his then wife, he started his art career at the end of the 80s. Slaven is an advocate of terseness, and is allergic to manifestations of scale, opulence and effect… His appearances are examples of a minimal but sublime expression of poignant melancholy, in the handling of light and various staging devices of an admonishingly low power that fades to a vanishing point. His art, together with those with whom it has affinities, including both rolemodels and those it has had an impact on, is present in this commission by the artist. And this is the only true possible way. Slaven is exhibiting his brothers-in-art, those whom he values, with whom he can communicate spiritually, with whom he sympathizes, sharing the same fate, the same physical and mental territory. Consistently, in his commission Slaven has not allowed himself to be led by the idea of playing safe opting for big names, which is often the case on such occasions, for names that you "can’t go wrong" with. Although this group of artists also includes classic figures of contemporary Croatian art like Goran Trbuljak and that "younger classic" Tomo Savić Gecan, the other four are less known, or perhaps completely unknown, artists, what we might call outsiders. And these are artists who, along with other handicaps for career-building, do not live in the capital, but in smaller cities throughout Croatia: Zlatan Dumanić lives in Split, Alen Floričić in Rabac, Istria, Pasko Burđelez in Dubrovnik and Boris Šincek in Osijek. Further on, some of these artists, like Burđelez, a gardener, or Zlatan Dumanić, a sea captain, don’t have formal artistic training, and hence Tolj’s commission has sidestepped a number of premises that are usually to be found at the basis of any such representative composition. 
Still, this is not a matter of any calculated eccentricity, forced individuality, nor does it include criteria of welfare, charity or geography. On the contrary, it is a very carefully composed little mosaic of discrete forms of expression, of artists and works that, in one specific sample, evoke and embody features present in the most intriguing part, if we can state so, of the tradition of contemporary Croatian art. /…/
/…/ If we look at the Croatian presentation at the 51st Venice Biennial as a whole, we are bound to discern that its commissioner and the commissioned artists have rejected the idea of competition via impressiveness of objects, visual fireworks, glamour or noise, real or metaphorical. The barrenness and poverty of the materials (a little water, a pile of soil), the unobtrusive, most often static patterns of text and image, find their counterpoint in the content behind these things, behind their minimal physical phenomenality.
And this content inheres in the virtual and realistic spaces that are opened up via the discreet intimations placed in the ground floor of the Palazzo Fortuny. With their hermeticism, their inner extension, their implications of other times and the broad domains outside the exhibition premises and beyond its duration, these meta-contents transform the gallery into a place of meditation, one that postulates collection and consecration, pausing and development.
Because, this is what it is all about. A latent call to collaborate, the chance of stepping up presence. Instead of a bombardment with aggressive matter and quantities, the visitor here perhaps might be provided with a chance to take part, to penetrate, with the possibility to get out of the self and attempt to understand the other.
A defensive of the work will perhaps facilitate attraction and approaching.

(From the introduction text by Antun Maračić)