Insights into the ambient setting of painted portraits and transformed found objects offer honest stories of individuals which, more withheld than told, make an impact with their captured existence. The visitor enters as an intruder into a landscape of subjects, where surprising confrontations with wooden solitary pieces prevent them from drowning in a single isolated image. Premonitions of latent urges remain hidden behind the membrane of the painting medium and the abstract forms of the painted wooden boards; these insert an insurmountable divide between the artwork and the viewer. Beyond it, we can only conclude, imagine, fantasise and invent personal narratives of the depicted, dictated by their presence in a defined space and time.

Živa Žitnik has combined oil technique with acrylic paints on smooth white large-format paper, creating a shimmering surface of glossy spots that add a specific dimension of expressiveness to the colours at certain angles of view. The artist’s models are not people traversing her social itinerary of life, but representations of the ideas of these individuals, emanations that she displays through the structures of the visual seat of identity, as she calls their faces. From beneath the surface of the skin, she brings to light hitherto hidden shades of colour that only she senses, intensifies them and uses them to construct a surface of relief; with it, she limits the passage of the outer contour of the face into an inaccessible inner mental extract. A key part of the formation of these impressions is the empathy of the author, who tries to abandon all her own physical, emotional and ideological predispositions in order to surrender to the familiarity of the foreign. From this secondary state emerges a concrete creation, of which she writes: “What makes a picture is the sum of my senses and their ‘organic’ memory, a kind of embodied emotional mechanism.” Her creations go beyond the display of painterly virtuosity within a traditional motif and reach the level of the incomprehensible, the unspeakable, but nonetheless powerfully perceptible.

Nina Stopar’s assemblages, on the other hand, address us from an abstract position, in the transition between image, painting, sculpture and installation. Arranged randomly on the gallery floor, now in groups, now individually, they continue the mission of the ready-mades in the communicativeness of a new context. The artist calls them the Skin of Berlin, as they manifest the experience of her artist residency in Dahlewitz, near Germany’s cosmopolitan capital, of which she writes: “The body is freer in this city than anywhere else in the world, which liberates me greatly in my way of being.” On the property where she lives and works, she collects whatever calls to her: discarded boards, wires and discarded things from the streets of Berlin, and combines them with other natural materials from the surroundings: stones, dried twigs, roots and naturally shaped wood. Placed in space, she transforms them into echoes of the identities and subcultures she encounters while working, wandering, talking to artists or visiting Berlin’s lively clubs. In doing so, she surrenders to a holistic, synaesthetic experience of her own creativity, engaging all her senses, including touch and smell, reflecting that “the transformation of found material into an art object is perhaps linked to a personal experience of transformation, of constant change, of creation as the noblest life force.”

The integrity of the exhibition interior is based on the connection between the paintings on the walls and the spatial layout of the colourfully reworked objects. Their coexistence moves from points of contact, manifested in the choice of strong, even neon colours, and the interpretation of the existence of man as a spiritually and intellectually essential being, to an antithetical balance, where complex presentations of individually recognisable faces automatically provoke a dialogue with simple composites. These two very different expressive paths can nevertheless be perceived as the same search for contact between the individual and the common reality, as the membranes of presence.

Marjana Dolšina Delač