Funny how?
January 15 –
February 07, 2020

Prešernova ulica 10A
1000 Ljubljana
Piera Ravnikar

Teja Kosi
            With his exhibition FUNNY HOW?, renowned artist of the younger generation, Matija Bobičić, is returning to his domestic art scene after several years of extensive and intensive exhibiting abroad. The pieces in his new series focus on monsters, mutants and other isolated creatures made up of multiple elements that offer a fresh and sharp perspective of our social reality. While the artist’s earlier works featured colourful abstraction permeated with an impulsiveness that spiralled out of control and was calmed by the artist through collaging, with the cutting of fragments and assembling them into new entities, his personal artistic self-reflection has completely changed in recent years, including the way he paints and the motifs he uses, opening a new chapter in his artistic career. Chaotic images blend into an increasingly harmonious composition, yet still leave room for spontaneity and unbridled imagination. In his creative process of constructing a piece, the artist adds and removes artistic elements, focusing on duplication and the line that often blurs it. In his childhood, the artist made toys out of various materials and parts, which he soon began to paint, and which he presently – although presented in somewhat different disguises – introduces to his painting canvases. These are even “recycled” and replicated, their presence shifting onto photographic film.

            The FUNNY HOW? exhibition offers reflection and confrontation of the real and surreal, awkward disharmony and harmony, normality and strangeness, tragedy and comedy. The canvas-dwelling monsters, mutants, hybrids and other isolated creatures bring the artist back to a time of childhood play and experimentation, while the limbs of mutilated, wounded creatures in their stark poses create their very own chaotic world. They are associatively complemented by yellow skulls, plastic bags, Nike sneakers and Rio Mare cans, all of which, through recognized homeliness, touch on environmental issues and criticism of excessive consumption. In the blend of social reality and imagination, smiling clown faces also appear as embodied contradictions. Protagonists wearing modern sneakers and clown smiles point to the production of happiness through consumerism and ownership, while this obsessive attachment to things leads to their own enslavement. The clown mask, as a space where social illusions, utopian longings as well as personal hidden desires can be projected, is surrounded by elements that move between vibrant, flamboyant colours and dark, black surfaces that overlap with each other. As the artist does not dilute the shades he uses, his works get a specific texture, and this sub-image presents the painted elements with visibility and supports the entire composition. By doing so, the artist skilfully avoids the straightforwardness of speech and a condemning view, and despite his seemingly unburdened attitude to modernity, holds up a mirror and poses the question: Funny how?
           Matija Bobičić (1987) is a professor of fine arts and a representative of the youngest generation of Maribor-based painters. In 2005, he participated at the Transgenerations Festival of Youth Creativity at Cankarjev dom, where he was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the festival. During the past two years, he has participated in the GIFC (Got it for cheap) project, with many group and solo exhibitions. In 2018, Bobičić held his first solo exhibition in New York (Under the Rainbow / Marvin Gardens), which was also announced on the webpage in the Editor’s Pick: “11 Things Not to Miss in New York’s Art World This Week”. He has also participated in group exhibitions in Los Angeles, Vienna, Ljubljana and London (including What kind of Spirit is this? / Sim Smith).