Exhibition entitled Uncompromising is the first retrospective of the oeuvre of Julije Knifer (Osijek, 1924 – Paris, 2004), an artist whose unconventional approach to the medium of painting marked the second half of the 20th century. Exhibition presents selection of key works from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, together with artworks and documentation from the collection and archive of the artist's family.
In the art world Julije Knifer is recognized by the geometric form of the meander, which he arrived upon in the early 1960s searching for the utter reduction of all expressive elements. His language of strict geometry constantly provoked classification into diverse trends in post-war art around the world (constructivism, minimalism, primary painting), which, from the early 1960s onwards, enabled his participation in major international exhibitions. Nevertheless, we find Knifer's actual spiritual origins in his affiliation with the neo-avant-garde group Gorgona (1959–1966). Members of Gorgona found their point of departure for unconventional artistic work in the philosophies of existentialism, absurdism and Zen, creating a platform for the new artistic phenomena that would become a reality a decade later. From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, namely, Julije Knifer often worked and exhibited in Germany, and moved to France in the early 1990s (Sète, Nice) where he would, having settled in Paris, remain the rest of his life.
To be exhibited along with his early work preceding the meander are many drawings/sketches for paintings and murals, documentary photographs – including those of performances less widely known to the broader public, and his authentic (diary) notes – a verbal extension of the contemplation of human existence embodied in the symbol of the meander.
Retrospective’s catalogue with comprehensive overview of Julije Knifer’s oeuvre is already available in museum shop.
Curated by Rada Iva Janković and Ana Knifer
Exhibition counsellor: Zvonko Maković