13. — 30. 8. 2020.
Curator: Božo Majstorović
Nina Ivančić started painting ship motifs immediately upon returning from New York, where she stayed from 1986 to 1993. Since her American period was marked by canvases with abstract geometric morphology, one can draw a conclusion about a swift, radical cut. Identical consequences were provoked by her arrival to the art metropolis. Namely, the inclination to non-expressive new geometry sought a sudden and consistent deviation from the neo-expressive New Image. Overnight, unreal scenes of organic exuberance and pictorial splendor disappeared from her canvas. Dynamic compositions of biomorphic forms, built and decomposed by manuscript unrestrainedness and diversity, have been replaced by sophisticated rasters of geometric forms of refined decorativeness and completely muted gesture. However, regardless of whether the painted field was shaped by the principle of expression or construction, it always manifested high artistic culture of the artist. Having in mind the very reach for different design principles, we can question the originality, authenticity and individuality of expression. Nina’s paintings from the 80’s are a kind of dialogue with these ultimate modernist categories. By adopting, paraphrasing or simulating the stylistic features of expressionist or abstract art, Nina reduces the key topoi of high modernism to rhetorical figures, i.e. culturally mediated conventions.
Let us go back to the aforementioned ships. For representations of concrete objects, European art has developed schemes that have brought representation possibilities to perfection. In contrast, Nina takes over, or rather simulates, the method of presentation which is characteristic of the technical representation of products. Instead of a realistic depiction of a ship in her natural environment, the frame is filled with her dark silhouette on a neutral, lighter background. The mimetic reduction is followed by the reduction of artistic expression, which continues the process from her New York canvases. The monochromatic minimalism of the visual language sucked all symbolism out of such meaningful motifs. The distanced performance process is also in the function of avoiding the literalization of the scene. Astep further in raising awareness of the fact that the painting is neither an expression of personality nor a reflection of reality, occurred when - by writing the official name of the ship - an iconic symbol on the canvas was joined by a linguistic equivalent.
Different types of ships are the iconographic content of recent works by Nina Ivančić, exhibited at this year’s Catamaran Art. These are ten pencil drawings on larger format paper. Not to be fooled by the use of invention, it should be noted that these drawings also refer to actual templates. So, although it is the most personal and most intimate art medium, the artist seems to want to deprive her manuscript of any expression, or subjective expression that would take her away from her intention of objective depiction of the ship. However, regardless of the technical precision of execution and the number of recorded details, we are no closer to a realistic depiction of the ship, compared to Nina’s earlier images. Moreover, the hyperrealistic style of design bureaus, which bring the observer’s attention to what is really inaccessible to the eye, only further emphasizes the difference between the nature of the image and the real nature. Whether it is the mimetic illusionism of a realistic image, the engineering realism of a technical design or the subjective experience of objective reality, it is always a matter of building an image according to the rules of certain representational models whose communicativeness rests on internalizing the meaning of stylistic formulas and formulas of pathos.
Nina returns the object to the image in order to affirm the object character of the image. In other words, the image as an artifact is not defined by external references but by its own material order: the flat surface of a solid background, the material trace of the medium, format and frame, which is both a portal to another reality and a constitutive factor of the image. However, minimalist artistic expression and potentiating the physical dimension of the media by doesn’t signify giving up on aesthetic requirements. Despite the overall reduction, or precisely because of it, the elegance of the drawings on carefully selected paper and the perfect harmony of the displayed content and format, become even more expressive. In conclusion, we can state that these are problematically interesting and unusually beautiful works. (Božo Majstorović)
Nina Ivančić was born in Zagreb in 1953. She graduated in painting in the class of prof. Šime Perić at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1977. She participated in the Master Workshop with Ljubo Ivančić in Zagreb from 1977 to 1979. She had Fulbright’s scholarship in Postgraduate Painting (MFA Program in Painting) at Columbia University in New York from 1986 to 1987. As part of the Fulbright program, she worked in the library of the Guggenheim Museum in New York (Research and practical training from 1987 to 1991). She lived and worked in New York from 1986 to 1993. Since 1977, she has been intensively exhibiting at numerous solo and group exhibitions in Croatia and abroad. Her work has been accompanied by several awards, a large number of bibliographic items, several TV films, and her works have been represented in private and public collections in Croatia and abroad.