curator: Radmila Iva Janković
This retrospective exhibition, to mark the centenary of the birth of Ivan Kožarić (Petrinja, 10 June 1921 – Zagreb, 15 November 2020), is just one out of many possible ways to present the work of a completely uncharacteristic and thus exceptional artistic personality of recent Croatian and European art. From the very beginning of his journey in art he rejected the petrified art language of any recognized version of style and tirelessly sought for the best way to materialise his artistic thought – his idea. “If a work has an idea,” he said, “it has everything, it has life.” In this spirit, he took a stance of disagreeing – not only with the conventions of the profession or with any form of dogmatism – but also with himself, deciding just as firmly to start from scratch every day.
Instead of a fixed, forever completed aesthetic object, he supported the open work, the principle of processuality, which came to expression as an articulated artistic stand which he materialised in numerous processes, also including radical gestures of denying and annulling his own past in the name of what was yet to come. By reversing the system of values through the alchemy of transforming “rubbish into gold”, using strategies of recycling, appropriation, placing works in new constellations… Ivan Kožarić continuously kept alive issues about the nature and boundaries of art as something that is “ever elusive” and is “always something else”.
The oeuvre of this artist, who managed to be anachronistic and completely contemporary almost in parallel, sometimes even anticipating trends in art that were yet to happen, can be accurately summarized in the words “anarchical discontinuity”. This retrospective does not underline it by creating a new discontinuity, by reiterating what had taken place quite naturally and has been recognised as the main substance of Atelijer Kožarić – the place where it all began. The concept of this retrospective moves in the opposite direction, it is an attempt to present his work through the continuity of discontinuities – by establishing as precisely as possible the sequence of sudden changes that took place on that artistic path almost seventy years long.