Hrvoje Majer started his artistic activities in the spirit of abstraction, fostering a painterly expression close to analytical and primary painting as well as informel and some sub-variants of gestural painting. Over the last few years, he has made a huge turnaround, completely entering the area of figurative art with autobiographical elements. Showing special interest in people, their characters, psyche and spirit, he has painted numerous portraits and several self-portraits, in which he creates strongly individualized persons on neutral background, proving to be an excellent psychoanalyst.
His works contain clearly and strongly reflected influences of contemporary media and popular culture, which is apparent in his use of photography that serves as a sketch, an element of study for a future work of art. The author uses it to record his own experiences of reality that he finds valuable for later artistic realizations. Along with photographs from his personal archive, in his work he also uses photographs taken from advertising industry, film and magazines. The paintings he creates are far from pure description, reproduction. Questioning the norms of living, the social norms that he reads from the photographs, the author reveals a new descriptiveness, different from the one recorded with a photographic camera, indicating the exsistence of more complex solutions.
The latest series is characterized by the author's stronger social and critical engagement, as well as conceptual aspirations which make his paintings particularly intriguing. The paintings within the series are closely connected by a certain storyline, they are equal to each other in their significance, while narration and symbolic depictions flow from one painting to another. The coexistence of the visual and the verbal in titles gives life to a number of associations.
For the author, human motive remains the only and exclusive subject matter through which he expresses himself and with the help of which he projects his emotions, spiritual states, intellectual attitudes. Likewise, in this new series he does not eschew portraits, but the portraits no longer aim at depicting physiognomy, conversely becoming multilayered and symbolic depictions with manifold meanings. Consequently, there are no characteristic facial features shown, since it is a question of universality, the encompassment of all people, and the bodies have a sort of pan-alignment provided by the physicality of the species, instead of individual peculiarities. The frames or, more correctly, the characters are stylistic devices, signs of the author's lifestance, deliberations and conclusions of the eternal questions and doubts imposed upon us by the society through prejudice, dogmas, imputed opinions. The everlasting polarity between men and women, their identities and the roles they play in society, repressed sexuality, twisted values, the loss of humanity and communication in the overall crisis of the age we live in, are the topics Majer systematically explores through his paintings.
At the level of idea and motif, the series has been realized with abundance of subject matter. Certain topics are his own personal inventions, while in traditional ones he uses various visual and narrative art history references. In addition to playing with the iconography and meanings of Christian origin, the author incorporates into his scenes the motifs from classical or completely fictional personal mythology. The emotional impact of Majer's artworks stems not only from what is depicted, but also from bold stylistic performance, or procedure, from unusual cuts which incise a figure in its most important segment – the segment of face as model's only distinguishing trait. In addition, the figures are sometimes cut in the hand area as well, which, together with the motif of tied hands, indicates human inhibition and inability to act. Solitary characters in dark and cataclysmic surroundings dense with symbolic meanings, placed in a scenery devoid of both temporal and spatial specifications, are contrasted with pastoral and bucolic landscape filled with poetic vision, reflecting the author's humanistic world view and faith in enlightenment and the creation of a better world. He suggestively conveys the primordial notion of man's union with God and with nature in which man dwells. In the arcadian and idyllic scenery bathed in sunlight, the painter metaphorically emphasizes the presence of a being that has undergone certain purification on their way to salvation. The scene emanates with calmness, misticity and sanctity, spiritual purity, joyfulness, lightheartedness and relaxedness, as well as the author's desire to encourage us to rediscover the primeval values within ourselves.
Hrvoje Majer was born in Osijek in 1975. In the year 2003 he graduated from the Art Education Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb where he had studied painting. In 2004 and 2005 he continued his education at the University of Arts, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London. In the period from 2004 to 2012 he lived and exhibited in London. He currently lives and works in Zagreb.