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Tihomir Matijević - Ordnung / Art in Front of the Art Pavilion

  • 08.03.2021 - 25.04.2021

The cycle Art in Front of the Art Pavilion

- from early March to the end of November 2021 –

Tihomir Matijević - Ordnung
March 8th - April 25th 2021


The past year faced us with multiple challenges. Compounding the unprecedented global epidemiological situation, an earthquake hit Zagreb in March, inflicting major damage on the Art Pavilion and, temporarily at least, making it infeasible for the institution to put on its regular exhibition programme.  The newly arising circumstances gave rise to a creative reaction: to shift art productions to the space in front of the Pavilion.  Through the coming year a new exhibition programme with the unpretentious title Art in Front of the Art Pavilion will be put on precisely in this outside space.  To date it has largely served just as an approach to the building itself, even though, several times, it has been turned into an exhibition venue for artworks – we might recall, for example, the exhibitions of Dušan Džamonja (1999), Ivan Kožarić (2005-2006) and Mirjana Vodopija (2013). Now, though, thanks to the urban siting of the Pavilion, the area in front of the establishment will become, through its new engagement as exhibition site, a place that encourages people to linger and gather. The Art Pavilion was always conceived as a place for urban life and for interaction. Now, when this aspect is to an extent frustrated, the outside space might make up for this lost factor of communality. 

It is our intention – even after the Art Pavilion has been repaired and renovated – to go on with holding exhibitions in the open air. Indeed, it is our plan in the coming years to move across the boulevard known as the Green Wave and hold exhibitions in the very centre of Zagreb. When economic conditions in city and state stabilise, the Cycle will be put on biennially.  We would like this series of exhibitions of ours to turn into a Contemporary Sculpture Outdoor Biennial, in which both Croatian and foreign artists will take part. 

In the four exhibitions in the programme for this year, we shall present four Croatian sculptors whose works, each in their own particular way, will animate and enhance the exterior of the Art Pavilion.  Not only will this kind of exhibition pull art right into public space, it will also prompt thinking about the role and potential of public sculpture, independent of its not infrequently ephemeral nature. 

The first exhibition gives us the installation of an Osijek sculptor of the middling generation, Tihomir Matijević, a work entitled Ordnung.  Art historians and critics are unanimous that Matijević’s work is provocative.  In this context we might recall his exhibition Cake vs Bronze in 2013 in the Fine Arts Gallery in Osijek, or that entitled When the Monument was Young put on in 2016 in Pula in the Poola Gallery.  In the same year the exhibition Transheroica or the Sculptor in Search of a Hero was shown in the Substructures of Diocletian’s Palace in Split. 

In the work Ordnung too, the sculptor’s provocativeness and tendency to irony can be seen.  The work consists of several elements that together create a whole, a sculpture. The construction machinery placed in the sand is at the very bottom and represents the economic conditions.  Then comes the first part of the plinth, which depicts books from the area of architecture and art theory, with which the artist refers to the importance of planning public space. The second part of the plinth contains a quotation from Trajan’s Column, highlighting the importance of human labour.  At the very top is the figure of a policeman recalling how it is that important figures from history are usually presented. 

“Is Ordnung a treatise or a depiction of the society in which we live?” art historian Klaudio Stefančić asked Tihomir Matijević in an interview. The answer he received went: “One and the other, and yet neither. One can argue back and forth about any kind of object at all, for someone a stick stuck in the ground will be enough, while another won’t be moved by a hundred Brandenburg Gates. It’s more dependent on the cultural capacity of the recipient and his will than on the artist’s intention. A piece can function as a depiction of society, for the structure of social organisation is similar to the processes of building. To make this easier to understand I’ll put another unknown into the equation, the idea of the monument, or the transition of sculpture into monument. Unlike works of art, monuments are a collective expression and the production processes are far more complex. There is an attempt to put these processes in order (Ordnung): politics legitimises the profession, the profession politics; institutions, authorities, public debates and so on. There are many instances of the process of acceptance that, however much they might be democratic are to the same degree impossible. One doesn’t need to think here only of the corrupting Croatian politics of everyday life. Architecture is also a kind of dictatorship, as is maths, and art theory. All these disciplines take part in a millennial-long struggle against chaos.”  

Matijević’s Ordnung functions at several levels. It is a kind of image of society, one of an ironic and somewhat grotesque character, and yet also a work that is concentrated on the very theme of public sculpture and the question of thinking about and using public spaces. Absolutely a welcome work of art in the time and space in which we live.

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