PROJECTIONS: Antun Motika and the legacy of experiment

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Antun Motika; Ana Hušman & Ivan Marušič Klif, Davor Sanvincenti, Aleksandar Srnec

 

The exhibition PROJECTIONS builds up on a selection of works by Croatian artist Antun Motika (Pula, 1902 – Zagreb, 1992) while it attempts to contextualise his experiments created from the beginning of the 1940s to the mid-1980s. It brings together various experiments and radical practices by Antun Motika in the context of the avantgarde and neo-avantgarde, from photo collages to experiments with light and projections, which can be divided into two basic groups: the transparencies and the kinetic installations which he sketched in the form of a working diary.

The presentation of Motika’s experimental practice at the Gallery Škuc in Ljubljana follows the eponymous exhibition previously held in 2017 at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka as an attempt of his delayed revalorisation. Directing the interest outside the established artists’ canon, today we may see these works as more innovative in the consideration of visual language. In order to make visible historical and current relations and perspectives, the exhibition is conceived as a group show and includes works that may contextualise the legacy of experiment within the framework of Motika’s artistic production. In this way, selected artists from different generations and historical positions, his contemporaries and artists of a younger generation, from Croatia and the international context, enter into a dialogue with Motika’s work, relating him to the experiments in moving images (Stan Brakhage, Zlatko Hajdler, Aleksandar Srnec) and lumino-experiments in the context of contemporary media art (Ana Hušman and Ivan Marušić Klif, Davor Sanvincenti).

PROJECTIONS position the legacy of kinetic and lumino-experiments by Antun Motika in the centre of attention, representing a fragmentary panorama of projected images, experimental film, visual music, organic and geometric abstraction that have a long history, from Oskar Fischinger, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, hand-coloured experimental films of Stan Brakhage, to abstract films of Aleksandar Srnec or Kariokineza (1965) by Zlatko Hajdler. Although they have no direct connection with film, Motika’s experiments with projections may be seen as a part of the history of early media art practices, as media archaeology, “illusions in motion”, connecting different phenomena of projected images. The installation Exercise (2017) by Ana Hušman and I. M. Klif recreates Motika’s experimentation with organic matter and light. The multichannel video projection, in which images multiply uncontrollably and move discontinuously in space, mobilises the sensory mechanism of the visitor. By changing his viewpoint, it advocates the overlapping characteristics of collage as a matrix of our perceptual structure. Likewise, by avoiding classic montage and applying paracinematic techniques in his film Mothlight (1963), Stan Brakhage surpasses the idea of objective reality as a matter of our perception.

For Aleksandar Srnec, as well as for pioneers of kinetic art, film is seen as an important part of the fascination with the kinetic-visual world, and of research of systematic, abstract art, light, optical and kinetic effects. Along with his well-known lumino-kinetic objects, Srnec explores movement and light in the medium of film. His film Beginnings 2 (1963) is a series of completely abstract sequences of slide projections, recorded to capture the light effects and document the process of movement as the transformation of the matter of light, and it represents a unique manifestation of abstract film in the Croatian cinematography.

Located between the projected images of Antun Motika and Aleksandar Srnec, an artist of a younger generation, Davor Sanvincenti (Pigment Valley, 2016), points his interests to obsolete projection devices and the research of the nature of colour, pigment, light, “liquid painting” – ideas close to Motika, by which two distant artists build a specific “poetic metastructure”.

Taking into consideration the international scene of the 1940s, Motika’s artistic aims were not an isolated case, while in the context of the Croatian and Yugoslavian scene Motika was the first who dealt with kinetic installations and light. More than two thousand sketches show that it was not his secondary interest but a serious topic.

 

Curated by: Branka Benčić and Sabina Salamon

 

Accompanying events:

1.2. at 6pm: Screening evening (Stan Brakhage, Zlatko Hajdler, Marko Pogačnik, Aleksandar Srnec, Davor Sanvincenti, Jennifer West) and guided tour of the show with the curators

8.2. at 6pm: Guided tour of the show

 

In collaboration with: Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka; Zbirka umjetnina Grada Pule – Antun Motika Collection; Apoteka, Vodnjan

Works from collections: museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; Marinko Sudac Collection; Zbirka umjetnina Grada Pule – Antun Motika Collection, Croatian Film Association

Acknowledgements: Leila Topić, Marinko Sudac, MG+MSUM Ljubljana