Damir Babić was born in 1962 in Zagreb. In the year 1991 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, in professor Đuro Seder's class. Since the beginning of his exhibitional activities in 1989, his artistic oeuvre has included various media (object, installation, photography). In 2003 he started painting, and in 2010 he replaced associative painting with figurative one. He lives and works in Rijeka.
Damir Babić presents himself with a series of landscapes entitled Where Does Silence Begin?, painted in the period between 2010 and 2015 and comprising parts of several different wholes. The forest landscapes from the series of paintings Who has Banished Silence? The Hearts are Withering are accompanied by three separate forest landscapes (Are Decisions Really Made Inside One's Mind?, Everything Is the Way It Has to Be, How Does Reversal into the Area of the Possible Happen?), whereas the third whole encompasses his seascapes. Babić only uses nature as an inspiration for recording those other, reflective and spiritual states, contemplations about the fundamental values and the purpose of human existence, often motivated by the intensive experience of nature itself. His landscapes do not aim at depicting real-life sceneries, but their intimate interpretation. Detaching himself from his own conceptions and prejudices, he sets free his own imagination, which is being born through immediate contact with nature.
Although the main impression these artworks leave on their viewers is the pleasure and lightness of the painting process, they are particularly based on carefully considered and precisely organized functioning of all visual elements of the paintings, which give them visual credibility, authorial authenticity and artistic gravity. His large format paintings are balanced compositions retaining their own firm profile and a structure with clearly defined and outlined relevant emotional and intellectual rhythm. They function as an expression of the author's experience, exploring in parallel their own structure and position, entering the interspaces of life and art, as well as questioning the limits of human perception. The artist arranges each single detail with utter attentiveness, revealing a sense for the materiality of depictions and a tendency towards utmost accuracy. However, such exactness is not an end in itself, but an open possibility that gives a new thematic dimension to the the preciseness of execution. Moreover, it is a path to abandoning the connectedness with reality, or objectivity, providing the subject matter with an underlying metaphysicality. The reality here resolves itself and flows into sur-reality and into non-reality, whereby concreteness is replaced by the ambiance and impressiveness of some captured moment out of time and space. In that way, despite the use of figurative building units, the author creates an abstract, etheric, elusive world beyond the borders of reality. It is contributed by formal and compositional solutions such as the relations between characters and landscape, the examination of the views of painted space, particularly the illusions of depth, which suggest the potential of the space to expand into width and depth.
Damir Babić belongs to a small number of artists occupied with the 'ecology of the spirit', to a group of artists who, instead of offering us a comforting placebo for restraining the sense of the meaninglessness of existence, creates artworks that embody the hope for a happier survival. In his 'search of the miraculous' (as Ouspensky refers to his pursuit of meaning) he offers us a meditative range, leaving a strong impression of pulsating energy and a cognition that even nowadays, when man is preoccupied with material values, there is a spiritual sphere as well.
Curator Marija Stipišić Vuković
Mirjana Vodopija was born in 1963 in Zagreb. She graduated in 1987 from the Graphic Arts Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, in professor Miroslav Šutej's class. From 1987 until today she has worked uninterruptedly as the Croatian Radiotelevision's part-time associate, creating a great number of sets, themes, jingles, illustrations as well as visual identities for shows under their production. In the period between 1987 and 2007 she was active as a freelance artist. Since 2007 she has taught at the Graphic Arts Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb where she currently works as an associate professor. She lives and works in Zagreb.
When determining the aesthetic starting points of Mirjana Vodopija's oeuvre, it has often been emphasized that her works tend to explore the formal possibilities of artistic media. Such a notion of art includes exploring and questioning art itself, moving within its immanent possibilities, without reference to social and political context or generally the sphere of everyday life. However, the author's subject matter is deeply existential, it refers exactly to what makes us humans – it is a sphere of questioning the possibilities of perception, emotions, imagination, reasoning. Isn't this the very domain of truly human existence, the art of comfort and hope, of expanded perception?
In Mirjana Vodopija's works we find cosmic symbolism, universal topics that connect us and unite us, that incite us to contemplate. There are always the motives of exploring the basic forms of our experience of the world and the preconditions of perception – time and space, the nature of light and shade that confirms it, the relationship between staticity and vicissitude, the rest in motion as a poetic notion of common relativity, the inseparability of experience and the one who experiences. It is not only the content of a subjective (and only possible) experience that is relevant, but its mechanisms and distinctive features as well; they make us aware of the things which escape our attention and which we take as a given. The topics are inseparably interconnected: dealing with the medium of light, just like any other research into the material of reality, necessarily indicates the basic categories of space and time. Should we wish to moderately burden this art with theory and additional meanings extending beyond what is immediately visible or the interpretations relying on scientific knowledge, we will expand the thought: the artistic research of perception as a source of knowledge about the world, its limitations and subjectivity, also points out to the general notion of the inevitable social and cultural conditionality of our construction of reality. Since we cannot fathom absolute truths, we are left with the analysis and pondering over the way in which we see, feel and construct the world. At the same time, it is the very limitedness of our sensory experience that enables its wondrousness.
Awakening to the elementary levels of reality and our consciousness, the outlook on perception and experience on their sources, the sense of being, the enlightening of presence – these are the quiet foundations Mirjana Vodopija keeps returning to in her art. Large prints of photographs, video projections and installations provide a rich and complex visual sensation, they encourage viewers' active participation instead of passive watching and invoke a strong emotional and spiritual experience. They accomplish a perpetual artistic task - to make things visible, to touch the aura of everlastingless.
Curator Kornelija Krpačić