Artist: Boris Beja
Curator: Tia Čiček
3. 2. at 6:30 pm: viewing of the exhibition with the artist and curator
17. 2. at 6:30 pm: viewing of the exhibition with the artist and curator
In the ten years of his art career, artist Boris Beja has used installations, objects and collages to re-enact the specific and complex meanings of certain spaces that we understand as (semi-)public or even as non-spaces. With a sensitive and delicate sculptural gesture, he uses space to reflect on general social issues and/or personal history. With the exhibition project For Boris at Škuc Gallery, he this time deals directly with his family past, which he tries to approach as an outside observer. He searches for different spaces in the family environment that can serve as a reflection on his own identity.
Boris was named after his mother’s brother, Boris Simončič, whom he only got to know through photos, stories from relatives, his girlfriend, friends and acquaintances. The artist’s uncle turned down a place on the national gymnastics team because of his love of mountain climbing. In 1983, a few years before Beja was born, he had a fatal accident in the French Alps. The memories and stories of the gymnast and alpinist have shaped the artist through absence and family trauma. He equates his uncle’s gymnastic discipline and his great love of the mountains with the attitude he cultivates towards the creative process. Disciplined and systematic. The psycho-physical condition that athletes train and maintain is also important for the artist, his creative expression. Practising specific artistic gestures and sensibilities, sculptural and drawing techniques, reading theoretical texts, etc. are a necessary part of his daily life. Alongside his engagement with space, his practice is accompanied by an awareness of his routine(s). Indeed, through his (our) daily devotion to sculpture, gymnastics, etc., he (we) create(s) unscripted rhythmic scenarios that can become a comfort (or a burden) and testify to the (un)conscious desire to control both time and one’s existence. However, unpredictable events and circumstances cannot be avoided; all we have left is the care for each other.
During the renovations to the school gymnasium in Zagorje ob Savi, he found new reminders of his uncle as well as his own childhood. In the gymnasium, he recognised the personal significance of the space – this is where his uncle trained his body, movement and spirit. To create new spatial puzzles, Boris dismantled and removed the gym equipment and the parquet floor with the help of his mother and father. The basis for the artist’s further work was the long-term cleaning of the oak parquet tiles, where he created a new rhythm by sanding five sides and consciously followed the fulfilment of the set weekly norm. The repetitive work helped him develop his discipline, which he now places in a new pattern in a new space of memory. However, by cleaning the slats, he has in a way created a void in which new forms and reflections can settle, including the name and not least the family; as a space marked above all by death and birth.
The artist polished each parquet piece and placed it in a new role and relationship. He replaced the leather saddle on the gym vault with a box of parquet pieces. He also used parquet for the display cases that hold his uncle’s winning gymnastics medals. And also for the frames of the new collages containing images of the restored letters on the family grave, a gesture of preserving memory while accepting loss. The intertwined collages, which include images of his uncle from the family album, indicate a complex fusion of the two Borises. Each notch is like a void and at the same time a contact, stretching across a rectangular format, and each testifies to discipline in the creative and athletic process.
The deconstruction of gym elements and the laying of new foundations in the symbolic “false” assembly of the reused parquet, marked by pitch lines and boundaries, shows a reflection on one’s position and the importance of diligence, which is supposed to guarantee success – although not necessarily. By transforming and changing the use of the material, the artist on the one hand transforms and reconsiders the history of his uncle and on the other hand, self-reflexively engages with his own work, which he also offers to the visitor for contemplation as he walks across the newly laid, shifting and unstable parquet surface.
Boris Beja (1986) graduated in Graphic Arts Technology from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, University of Ljubljana, in 2009 and continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, where he graduated in Sculpture in 2013. In recent years, he has prepared several solo shows and has participated in numerous group exhibitions, also internationally. His visual creative practice combines various artistic approaches into an aestheticised and at the same time direct address, into a social critique that exposes and questions the symptoms of present-day society.
Slovene Proofreading: Inge Pangos
English Translation: Arven Šakti Kralj Szomi
Design: Lea Jelenko
Photos from the opening: Marijo Zupanov
Acknowledgments: Mum and Dad, Janja Arh, Sandi Ostrožnik (Ostrožnik d.o.o. – furniture makers), Miha Zupan, Tone Okrogar Elementary School – Zagorje ob Savi.
The Škuc Gallery programme is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ljubljana.