The re-examination of social behaviour and way of life, the relationship between modern man and the planet i.e., the matter of its survival are themes that Valentina Supanz Marinić, a painter from Zagreb, addresses in her recent series titled Toxicity. The painter confirms the position of constant vigilance and sensitivity to reality with her style and problems that enter the scope of her work, and asserts herself as an increasingly important member of the generation of artists who decided to face their personal, but also broader social issues, fears and hopes, with a realistic and figurative artistic expression. Although primarily diagnostic, her paintings also represent a critique of urban life in the contemporary world. Their subversive character is not new, it is a legacy of contemporary art. However, the authorial voice of this artist is in her individual poetics, in her manner of layering the multiple mental and visual components into a single work, in her dedication to that painterly and ideological strategy. Simple in essence, concise, legible and understandable, with this new project Valentina confirms her position as an original and intriguing artist. She conveys her painterly preoccupations, re-examining not only the possibilities of the contemporary image and painting, but taking pleasure in the act of painting, and expresses her emotions, attitudes, interests and opinions about what she hears, reads or observes almost immediately. The series Toxicity has a powerful conceptual message, and in addition to the immense spiritual power it emanates, it also exhibits the technological perfection of execution. The visual expression is characterised by the pure, intense, and frequently neon colourway, clear compositional structure, three-dimensional construction of space, expertly achieved fullness of volume and a simple and extremely secure execution of a series of others, less conspicuous details which, precisely because they are less conspicuous, best support the synthetic realisation of the painted motif. The theme of nature continually reappears in Valentina’s canvases, and dominates her recent works as well. In the new series, she continues her existential examination of the mutual relationship between nature and man. Nevertheless, in the deluge of painters with similar landscape themes and intimist poetics, she remains authentically herself, continuously creating a world of images that emanate a special atmosphere. Although everything here is recognizable and based on figuration and real spaces, everything still appears somehow unreal and incomprehensible, irrational and fantastic, invoking even the mystical and mysterious. For the correlations are unexpected, and objects and phenomena intangible, laden with a strange, metaphysical melancholy, undoubtedly carrying within them many allegorical and symbolic meanings. The motifs of her paintings are actually ways to point to the man, who is at the centre of her interest. In order to emphasize the relationship between the supremacy of nature and man’s insignificance by comparison, we often encounter a lonely ghostlike figure with a gas mask on his face or shown from behind, within a certain landscape scene. Somewhat like a memento mori, she reinterprets, in her own way, the fate of a man tragically lost in a wasteland, similar to Biffel’s or Ivančić’s lonely protagonists. Such narratives contain strong psychological connotations of universal character, and Valentina’s visual vocabulary is therefore easily accessible to viewers.

The whole exhibition, very powerful and visually attractive, is multi-layered and rather dark. The artist wants the audience to experience an uncomfortable shiver, and a more careful reading of the project only deepens such perception, confirming Valentina as an exceptional painter who demonstrates that it is still possible to express the essence of realism in a completely novel way, because to create means “Just to observe for oneself, not as one had been taught, not through someone else’s glasses, but through the lens of one’s own emotional powers…” as Krleža writes in Latinovicz.

Valentina Supanz Marinić was born in 1986 in Zagreb. She graduated from the department of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2012, in the class of Zlatko Kauzlarić-Atač. She has had several solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group exhibitions, of which we highlight: 2nd and 5th Biennial of Painting, HDLU, New Croatian Realism, Gliptotheque, Fountain Art Faire at Armory Arts Week, Manhattan, New York, 2014. The Erste Fragments Foundation awarded her the purchase award for the painting My Jungle, 2013. She illustrated several children’s books. She is a member of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists and the Croatian Freelance Artists Association.