Back to Normal!
March 18 —
May 05, 2022
Levstikova ulica 3
1000 Ljubljana
CURATORPiera Ravnikar

Adrijan Praznik
Mario Zupanov

            In the exhibition BACK TO NORMAL! at RAVNIKAR GALLERY SPACE, Adrijan Praznik presents selected works from a completely new series of paintings. With the exception of the work BACK TO NORMAL!, which has already been shown in the exhibition Praznik prepared to mark the end of his two-year residency at MGLC Švicarija in January 2022, the other works are on view for the first time. Together in the present set-up, they provide an insight into the artist's work in 2021 and the specific, investigative turn that has taken place in his practice over the past year.

            Their first applications of paint transform the paintings of monumental and smaller formats into assemblages whose surface contains reliefs and creases thanks to the considered layering of fabric or paper. With an extraordinary feel for the materiality of painting, Praznik captures the fragile balance of the apparent contradiction between the emphasised physical aspects of painting on the one hand, and the fact that the artworks on display are about emptiness or absence, on the other. The multi-layered painterly planes are complemented by individual words or sentences, which, however, have no body to utter them, just as the cut pieces of fabric are without a corresponding body. This unique contrast is a telling testimony to the artist's reorientation, seeking inspiration, artistic parallels and motivic references not in the realm of visual art, but in philosophy and literature. Emptiness, darkness and absence (of reason) are not necessarily negative terms for him: he also begins to concern himself with the irrational as a quality inherent in every human being. Dissatisfied with the inability to control the world, both internal and external, and with the lack of influence on external factors, which are by definition indomitable, he began to think that the only path to knowledge (of himself) is not necessarily rational.

︎︎︎The Irrational in Painting

            At the end of 2020, a personal experience changed my creative path. There were events that I found completely unreasonable, unpredictable and downright absurd, but which led me to the themes I am currently exploring in my art practice. I describe this overarching theme of the new series of paintings best with the category "irrational". Something that cannot be explained with knowledge about the world (external or internal), something that we cannot explain with the mind alone. Even better, I would accompany this thought with a quote from the film Naked:

            “No matter how many books you read, there is something in this world that you will never, ever ever ever f**king understand." (1)

            It is the human tendency to plan and anticipate, to create simulations about future events and measure the accuracy of our projections ... In real time, however, there are constant deviations, inconsistencies and absurdities in our actions. It is these "errors" that are the focus of the new series of paintings.

            Philosophy and literature are important points of reference in this painting series, much more so than references in the field of painting or art theory, for example. Albert Camus and the philosophy of the absurd are essentially about the inconsistencies mentioned above, about man's search for meaning, which is inherently elusive. As a society and as individuals, we like to have coherent and consistent ideas of who and what we are. However, this idea is created day by day. We want a stable and clear identity, but we have to make the effort and maintain a certain state in order to achieve it, which is impossible in the long run. Sooner or later there is change, breakdown, transformation... I also refer to other authors like Paul Auster and his novel the New York Trilogy (2), in which he deals with human identity and the history of literature. The trilogy is a meta-story that talks about the stories themselves and how they arise. I am particularly fascinated by how "identity" is integrated into the above written. I wonder who we are and what our interpersonal dynamics are. The new series could be about intimistic portraits and in-depth exploration of human "existence" itself. In the science fiction novel Solaris (3), Stanisław Lem portrays humans as mirrors in which we can recognise ourselves. The idea of discovering the universe is not so much about the "unknown" in the cosmos, but about the desire to take what we know – life on Earth – to all parts of the world. We do this not because we like to discover the unknown, but because we want to discover ourselves again and again.

            I see the creative act of the new series of paintings as the dissolution of the irrational with the irrational since it would be senseless to explain the senseless. The painting support is the ideal medium in this case because I can use it to answer the unanswerable. And I do that with all the elation and intuition that I have. As Mark Rothko, for example, says, his works are full of anger and rage (at least during their creation), yet viewers experience his paintings as much more contemplative or even calming. Rothko is also a reference for the formal side of the paintings as they are predominantly monochrome – for now, large black and/or white surfaces covering a ground created using the technique of textile collage. The fabrics break through as highlights at the edges of the paintings giving the impression that something is hidden beneath the applications of paint. Pieces of fabric or clothing appear in a variety of hues, patterns and textures that contrast with the non-chromatic surfaces. The fabric suggests an emptiness or absence, the garments call out to the body they belonged to. The layers of material adds to the relief of the works, which comes closer to assemblage and looks more like a typical sculptural process than flat collage. Light and shadow in the pieces are outlined by intersecting shapes. Often the paintings remind me of Hard Edge Painting or the Informel period. But these terms are misleading because they belong to a different period. The paintings are also populated by found text and other symbols that give them new expressive dimensions. In this web of associations, I could also identify with concrete poetry or a kind of "dark" pop art, post-media painting…

            Even though I want to move away from the individual styles/periods with the series, I try to think out of these frames and build each painting in its own way. I try to achieve the look of the final image by condensing and layering materials, using different artistic approaches, overpainting or a palimpsest quality in the images as well as a clearly physical (material) embodiment of individual thoughts and feelings. I cannot say that the paintings are like a window when the support opens our eyes to the illusion of the real world, nor are they paintings-as-objects or screen painting. In this series, the paintings are in the function of the body. Just as, in the complete absence of sound, we hear our own heartbeat. And just as, in complete darkness, something flashes before our eyes. That is how I want to represent the body with these works, precisely with the absence of the body itself. It is the alchemy of the human condition to seek that which is known to us. And if it is not, we transform this unknown with the projection of our own selves. 

︎︎︎ Adrijan Praznik

(1) LEIGH, Mike (directed by), Naked, 1993.
(2) Auster, Paul, The New York Trilogy, Faber and Faber Limited, 2004.
(3) Lem, Stanisław, Solaris, Faber and Faber Limited, 2016.

            Adrijan Praznik (1988, Ljubljana) graduated in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. In 2017–2018, he attended the School of Curatorial Practice and Critical Writing, World of Art (SCCA-Ljubljana). He has presented his work in numerous (91) group and solo exhibitions at home and abroad. He works as artistic director of the Simulaker Gallery in Novo mesto as part of the LokalPatriot Institute. LokalPatriot is the partner organisation of the konS project, where Adrijan Praznik works as a curator and producer.

            As a curator and producer, he has collaborated with artists and artist groups such as P L A T E AU R E S I D U E, BridA/Tom Kerševan, Sendi Mango, Jurij Pavlica, Goran Bertok, Uroš Weinberger, FaceOrFactory/Eva Smrekar and Aljaž Rudolf, Nejc Trampuž, Barbara Drev and many others. In 2015 and 2019, he was awarded an artist grant by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia. In 2019, his work was included in the group exhibition Time Without Innocence. Contemporary Painting in Slovenia curated by dr. Martina Vovk at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana. In May 2021, he presented his work in the solo show Setup Attempt at Alkatraz Gallery in Ljubljana and the group exhibition The next 21 days will be crucial at Škuc Gallery in Ljubljana. In September, he presented himself with the solo exhibition Repetition at GalerijaGallery in Ljubljana and showcased his work in the international art fair viennacontemporary 2021 in Vienna. From January 2020 to January 2022, he had a working and living studio at MGLC Švicarija. He lives and works in Ljubljana.

            Adrijan Praznik na razstavi BACK TO NORMAL! v RAVNIKAR GALLERY SPACE premierno predstavlja izbrana dela povsem nove slikarske serije. Z izjemo dela BACK TO NORMAL!, že razstavljenega na razstavi, ki jo je ob zaključku dvoletne rezidence v MGLC Švicariji Praznik pripravil v januarju 2022, so preostala dela na ogled prvič, skupaj pa v pričujoči postavitvi odstirajo pogled na umetnikovo ustvarjanje v letu 2021 in specifičen raziskovalni preobrat, ki je v preteklem letu vzniknil v njegovi praksi.

            Slikarska dela monumentalnih in manjših formatov so v svojih prvih nanosih asemblaži, katerih površina se, zahvaljujoč premišljenemu plastenju bodisi tekstila bodisi papirja, reliefno guba. Praznik z izjemnim posluhom za materialnost slike ujame krhko ravnotežje navidezne kontradikcije med na eni strani poudarjenimi fizičnimi aspekti slike in na drugi dejstvom, da se razstavljena umetniška dela v svoji osnovi ukvarjajo s praznino oziroma odsotnostjo. Večslojne slikarske površine namreč dopolnjujejo posamezne besede ali stavki, a brez telesa, ki bi jih izgovarjalo, kot so brez pripadajočega telesa tudi odrezani kosi blaga. To svojevrstno nasprotje pomenljivo priča o umetnikovem preusmerjenem ustvarjalnem fokusu – navdiha, likovnih paralel in motivnih referenc ni iskal v sferi vizualne umetnosti, pač pa v filozofiji in literaturi. Praznine, teme in odsotnosti (razuma) ne razume kot nujno negativnih pojmov: ukvarjati se je pričel tudi z iracionalnim kot lastnostjo, inherentno sleherniku. V nezadovoljstvu nad nezmožnostjo obvladovanja sveta, tako notranjega kot zunanjega sveta, in pomanjkanja vpliva na zunanje dejavnike, ki so po definiciji neukrotljivi, je pričel premišljevati, da edina pot do spoznanja (samega sebe) ni nujno racionalna.

︎︎︎Iracionalno v slikarstvu

            Konec leta 2020 je mojo ustvarjalno pot spremenila osebna izkušnja. Zgodili so se nekateri dogodki, ki so bili zame povsem nerazumni, nepredvideni in naravnost absurdni, a so me pripeljali do vsebine, ki jo trenutno obravnavam v svoji umetniški praksi. To krovno tematiko nove slikarske serije še najbolje opišem s kategorijo »iracionalnega«. Nekaj, česar ne razloži znanje o (zunanjem ali notranjem) svetu, nekaj, česar ne moremo pojasniti z našim razumom. Še najbolje bi to razmišljanje pospremil s citatom iz filma Goli [Naked]:

            »Ne glede na to, koliko knjig prebereš, je na tem svetu nekaj, česar nikoli, nikdar in za noben k***c ne boš razumel.« (1)

            Tu gre za človeško težnjo, da načrtujemo in predvidevamo, da o prihodnjih dogodkih ustvarjamo simulacije in merimo natančnost svojih projekcij ... V realnem času pa prihaja do stalnih odstopanj, neskladij in nesmislov naših početij. Prav te »napake« so osrednji fokus nove slikarske serije.

            Filozofija in literatura sta pri tej slikarski seriji pomembni referenčni točki, veliko bolj kot na primer reference s področja slikarstva ali umetnostne teorije. Albert Camus in filozofija absurda v svojem bistvu govorita prav o zgoraj omenjenih neskladjih, o človekovem iskanju smisla, ki pa je po svoji naravi izmuzljiv. Kot družba in kot posamezniki imamo radi koherentne in sosledne predstave o tem, kdo in kaj smo. Vendar se ta predstava ustvarja iz dneva v dan znova. Želimo si stabilno in jasno identiteto, a njeno doseganje pomeni napor in ohranjanje določenega stanja, kar pa je na dolgi rok nemogoče. Prej ali slej pride do spremembe, zloma, transformacije … Navezujem se tudi na druge avtorje, na primer na Paula Austerja in njegovo Newyorško trilogijo (2), v kateri obravnava človeško identiteto in zgodovino literature. Trilogija je metazgodba, ki govori o zgodbah samih, o tem, kako te nastanejo. Še zlasti me v zgoraj zapisanem intrigira »identiteta«. Sprašujem se, kdo smo in kakšna je naša medčloveška dinamika. Pri novi seriji gre morda za intimistične portrete in za poglobljeno raziskovanje same človeške »biti«. Stanisław Lem v znanstvenofantastičnem romanu Solaris (3) ljudi portretira kot zrcala, da lahko v njih prepoznamo sami sebe. Ideje o odkrivanju vesolja ne govorijo toliko o »neznanem« v kozmosu kot o tem, da želimo to, kar nam je poznano – življenje na Zemlji −, širiti na vse dele sveta. Tega ne počnemo zato, ker radi odkrivamo neznano, temveč ker želimo odkrivati sami sebe znova in znova.

            Ustvarjalni akt nove slikarske serije razumem kot razreševanje iracionalnega z iracionalnim, saj bi bilo nekaj nesmiselnega, če bi nesmiselno pojasnjevali. Slikarski nosilec je v tem primeru idealen medij, saj lahko z njim odgovorim na neodgovorljivo. In sicer z vso vznesenostjo in intuicijo, ki ju premorem. Kot je npr. Mark Rothko za svoja dela pravil, da so polna jeze in besa (vsaj med ustvarjanjem), gledalci pa njegove slike doživljajo veliko bolj kontemplativno ali celo pomirjujoče. Rothko je tudi referenca za formalno plat slikarskih del, saj so pretežno monokromna – za enkrat večje črne in/ali bele ploskve, ki prekrivajo podlago, ustvarjeno v tehniki tekstilnega kolaža. Tkanine v akcentih pronicajo na robovih slik in dajejo slutiti, da je pod nanosi barv nekaj skritega. Kosi blaga oz. oblačil so različnih barvnih odtenkov, vzorcev in tekstur ter so kontrast nekromatičnim površinam. Tekstil nakazuje praznino oz. odsotnost, oblačila kličejo po telesu, ki so mu pripadala. Z nanosi materiala narašča reliefnost samih del, ki se bolj kot ploskemu kolažu približuje asemblažu ter videzu, značilnemu za kiparske postopke. Svetlobe in sence na delih orisujejo prekrite oblike. Pogosto me slike asociirajo na robno slikarstvo ali obdobje informela. A so ti izrazi zavajajoči, saj pripadajo drugemu času. Slike naseljujejo tudi najdena besedila in drugi simboli, ki slikam odpirajo nove izrazne razsežnosti. V tem prepletanju asociacij bi se lahko poistovetil tudi s konkretno poezijo ali nekakšnim »temnim« pop artom, postmedijskim slikarstvom …

            S serijo se sicer želim oddaljiti od posameznih stilov/obdobij, poskušam razmišljati zunaj teh okvirov ter gradim vsako sliko na svoj način. Videz končne podobe poskušam doseči z zgoščevanjem in prekrivanjem materialov, uporabo različnih umetniških pristopov, preslikavanjem oz. palimpsestnostjo podob ter izrazito fizičnim (materialnim) utelešenjem posameznih misli in občutij. Ne morem govoriti, da so slike kot okno, ko nam nosilec odpre pogled na iluzijo stvarnega sveta, kot tudi ne gre za sliko kot objekt ali pa ekransko slikarstvo. V tej seriji so slike v funkciji telesa. Tako kot v popolni odsotnosti zvoka slišimo lasten utrip srca. In kot v popolni temi nekaj migota pred očmi, tako želim s temi deli upodobiti telo prav z odsotnostjo telesa samega. To je alkimija človeškega stanja, da iščemo to, kar nam je poznano. In če nam ni, to neznano transformiramo s projekcijo nas samih.

︎︎︎ Adrijan Praznik

(1) LEIGH, Mike (režija), Goli [Naked], 1993.
(2) AUSTER, Paul, The New York Trilogy, Faber and Faber Limited, 2004. (Auster, Paul, Newyorška trilogija, prevod Miha Avanzo, Založba Vale-Novak, 2010.)
(3) LEM, Stanisław, Solaris, Faber and Faber Limited, 2016. (Lem, Stanisław, Solaris, prevod Tatjana Jamnik, KUD Police Dubove, Družba Piano, 2010.)

           Adrijan Praznik (1988, Ljubljana) je diplomiral iz slikarstva na Akademiji za likovno umetnost in oblikovanje Univerze v Ljubljani. V letih 2017–2018 je obiskoval Šolo za kuratorske prakse in kritiško pisanje - Svet umetnosti (SCCA-Ljubljana). Svoja dela je predstavil na številnih (91) skupinskih in samostojnih razstavah doma in v tujini. V okviru Zavoda LokalPatriot deluje kot umetniški vodja Galerije Simulaker v Novem mestu. LokalPatriot je partnerska organizacija projekta konS, v katerem Adrijan Praznik nastopa kot kurator in producent.

           Kot kurator in producent je sodeloval z umetniki in umetniškimi skupinami, kot so P L A T E AU R E S I D U E, BridA/Tom Kerševan, Sendi Mango, Jurij Pavlica, Goran Bertok, Uroš Weinberger, FaceOrFactory/Eva Smrekar in Aljaž Rudolf, Nejc Trampuž, Barbara Drev in številni drugi. V letih 2015 in 2019 je bil nagrajen z delovno štipendijo Ministrstva za kulturo RS. V letu 2019 je s svojimi deli sodeloval na skupinski razstavi Čas brez nedolžnosti. Novejše slikarstvo v Sloveniji, ki jo je kurirala kustosinja dr. Martina Vovk v Moderni galeriji v Ljubljani. Maja 2021 se je samostojno predstavil na razstavi Poizkus postavitve v Galeriji Alkatraz v Ljubljani in na skupinski razstavi Naslednjih 21 dni bo ključnih v Galeriji Škuc v Ljubljani. Septembra se je samostojno predstavil na razstavi Ponovitev v GalerijiGallery v Ljubljani in sodeloval na mednarodnem umetniškem sejmu Viennacontemporary 2021 na Dunaju. Od januarja 2020 do januarja 2022 je imel delovno-bivalni atelje v prostorih MGLC Švicarije. Živi in dela v Ljubljani.