Overview Exhibition – Loža Gallery, Meduza Gallery, Warehouse Libertas Koper  and Piran Civic Gallery,  25.0321.05.2023 | 

Press conference: Friday, 24.03.2023, at 11 am, at Piran Civic Gallery | 

Exhibition opening: Saturday, 25. 3. 2023, at 12 am at Loža Gallery, Koper | 

Curated by: PhD, Madja Božeglav Japelj, curator and museum counsellor

The retrospective exhibition of the work of the Croatian artist Nemanja Cvijanović opens the 2023 museum's programme. The exhibition, produced by Piran Coastal Galleries and curated by Majda Božegav Japelj, is entitled The Square of The Un-indifferent and represents the first major presentation of his opus in Slovenia and in a wider European context.

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the collaboration of numerous partners, such as: the Municipality of Piran, the City Municipality of Koper, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the Municipality of Rijeka, the MMS – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Rijeka, the City Museum of Rijeka, and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Belgrade Foundation.
Particularly valuable has been the cooperation with Croatian museum institutions: by lending a selection of works coming from their collections, they contributed to a high-quality upgrade of the presentation of the arists's opus in Koper and Piran.

Nemanja Cvijanović belongs among the leading Croatian conceptual artists of the middle generation. His work displays fresh and innovative approaches to the understanding of the engaged role of an artist and art in contemporary visual practice. In doing this, he is uncompromisingly critical and radically rebellious, yet also subtly ironic and witty. The exhibition entitled The Square of The Un-indifferent is the result of the author’s choice of key works from a creatively and exhibitionally prolific period of two decades.

In four exhibition spaces in Piran and Koper – the Piran Civic Gallery in Piran, and the Meduza Gallery, Loža Gallery and the Warehouse Libertas in Koper, a wide range of media expressions will be presented: photographs, paintings, ceramics, collages, video, graphics, installations, and multimedia creations. Sweet Terror, Monument for Rijeka the Red, Follow me Comrades, Hurrah!, A Waltz? are just some of the demanding titles of his works. The arrangement at different locations does not follow a chronological order, but emphasizes the artist’s intention to provide his conceptually strong works with the appropriate spatial installation and the opportunity to enter into an exciting dialogue with the spectator.

During the time of this year’s exhibition, occasional guided tours of the exhibition and expert workshops will be organised for students of visual practices from the University of Primorska (PEF VUO). The program will be published soon.

The component part of the exhibition project was last year’s public book presentation of his extensive monograph entitled Antifašizem kot samoobrambni spomenik  in (Anti-Fascism as a Self-Defence Monument, publishers: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Belgrade; Museum of Contemporary Art Rijeka, and the Piran Coastal Galleries) occurred in the frame of the Academy of Visual Arts in Venice (Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia) in 2022.

Nemanja Cvijanović (Rijeka, 1972) is a Croatian multimedia artist who works in the fields of video, photography, performance, and conceptual art. He completed his studies in Painting in 1998 in Venice at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, where he also finished his post-graduate studies in 2010 at the Università Iuav di Venezia. He is a member of the Rijeka unit of the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU). He collaborates professionally with Gallery T293 in Naples. He has been working as an artist-curator since 2009, when he and his colleagues founded the international gallery SIZ (Self-governing Interest Community) in Rijeka. He is a lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice and the Faculty of Education of the University of Primorska (UP PEF), the Visual Arts and Design programme (VUO) in Koper. He has held independent and group exhibitions at home and abroad, in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, China, Russia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Korea, Norway, etc. He has received several awards for his work. He lives and work  between Rijeka and Venice.

Mount Triglav on the Adriatic Sea, 2010, performance photo

The Republic, 2007, neon lights

A Waltz?, 2014, ceramics, acrylic, cloth, sponge, straw


Piran Civic Gallery

The Piran Civic Gallery stands out for the number and media-diverse selection of works – collages, video, graphics, paintings, installations, and multimedia creations made between 2002 and 2019, in which the typical art language of the artist is recognised. In his works, Cvijanović touches upon the current political, economic, and social issues, including those from the field of the system of art, which he confronts or semantically connects with the past and recent history. An especially popular theme is the process of transition from the ideologically indoctrinated system of the former common homeland into the uncompromising society of neoliberal capitalism. Cvijanović’s critical mien, which lacks false sentimentality, discusses the hostile disposition of rejecting the past common and personal identity by negating positive values such as »fairness, faith in bright future, fraternity and unity, peace, etc.« He is drawn to the aesthetics of symbols and the phenomenon of collective memory which, through the time propaganda whirl in his work, gains completely different meanings.

The sharp socially critical position in works that use the symbolism of signs is in some places painfully telling (Still Life, Fasci al muro, All Right, The Republic, etc.), and covertly ironic and sarcastic in others (Do not fuck with Social Democracy!, works from the coat-of-arms series, etc.). Works entitled Follow me, comrades, Hurrah! and One and Three Chairs belong to the sphere of small and seemingly insignificant stories in the interpretation of recent historic happenings in the territory of the former common state. For both, the artist used museum exhibit pieces from the Rijeka City Museum and placed them into the current gallery reality of his own multimedia creation in the function of ready made objects.

Opening hours:

Loža Gallery, Koper

Characteristic of Cvijanović’s opus operandi are works that are made for selected public spaces. Monument for Rijeka the Red – monument of self-defense in the Loža Gallery in Koper was created within the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project. The installation of a star made of prestressed concrete, iron construction, and glass on the town skyscraper brought back the memory of a similar act upon liberation of the town in 1945.

“A monument to the memory and the crisis of memory”, as the work was described in short in materials that accompanied the event, presents the cast-off and forgotten five-pointed star pierced through the white surface by 2,800 fragments of red glass (the number of fallen fighters in the battle for Rijeka). Cvijanović’s unique large-scale installation created agitation all through its duration with the ideological weight of manifestation. It seems that the artist planned to install responses, the perception of the wider public sphere, into the sole core of the design of his creation, including the sharp glass fragments with which he equipped its surface in the expectation of attacks from vandals.

The relevance of his social sculpture did not burn out when the performative event ended. Even in later installations, this time in a spatially limited gallery premises, the artist’s critical address renews and strengthens itself time and again. The exhibition is supplemented with an extensive accompanying publication, a monograph, which encompasses a chronology of happening, media reactions, and texts of different writers who researched in-depth the socio-political context of the artist’s position.

Opening hours:

Warehouse Libertas, Koper

In the spacious Warehouse Libertas Cvijanović realised that part of his artistic essence in which he is recognised as the typical representative of »activism aesthetics«. With interactive operation in the public and urban space, in which he establishes collaboration with heterogenous groups of society, he appears in the role of a responsible and aware creator who goes against the anomalies of modern social systems, criticises ideological systems, and in his reconstructions leads the spectator into an internalised auto-reflection.

The video and spatial installation entitled Aplauz (2009) is linked to the project implemented in 2009 within City operation – a manifestation of the Zagreb independent scene. Cvijanović hired 200 townspeople for a staged protest at a Zagreb square who got paid after an hour of actively expressing their positions. During the action, it was not possible to discern the purpose of their gathering, since the banners included slogans of different political, non-political, utopic, feminist, idealistic positions, including meta positions, pertaining to the ongoing protest, for example Who is silent, approves!. The artist put the protesters into a position in which they should figure things out for themselves, as engaged individuals against unacceptable, undemocratic decisions of the ruling apparatuses of power. He projected his own rebellious activism onto a wider group, infiltrated their consciousness, and initiated the subtle critical reflection about concepts of power, authority, prohibition, and personal and collective responsibility.

The wall installation entitled Paying my Electricity Bills is a marble slab that originally mimics the shape and content of the gravestone for Josip Broz Tito, the former Yugoslav statesman and Communist leader (1892–1980), at Dedinje in Belgrade. Cvijanović transformed a piece of Carrara marble into a wall radiator for household use, which was a frequent form of heating in Yugoslavia after the Second World War. Echoing the idea of bringing art closer to the real world, the ready made principle, the artist used a representative socialist icon and seemingly stripped him of the primary commemoration of a monument or, with the installed heating device, functionally upgraded it. The new emblem with its new role mischievously plays with rituals of mass tourist pilgrimages on the paths of worshipping cult objects, while at the same time intervening in the collective imagination of interpreting the memory of a chosen historical period.

Opening hours:
Tuesday-Friday 16.00 – 19.00
Saturday: 12.00 – 19.00

Meduza Gallery, Koper

The premises of the Meduza Gallery in Koper attract attention with the presence of completely different media expressions and thematic solutions, where we can find the ambient sound work entitled A Waltz? and the wall light object in the form of the Italian coat-of-arms entitled The Republic. Neon, which generally defines urban space and has role models in the recent history of contemporary art, is – as a material and means of expression – a frequent choice with Cvijanović, as a rule in the service of his radical socially critical position with an accentuated ironic note. The depiction of state insignia of the Italian republic in shiny neon disguise loses the state-forming seriousness. It reminds us of an advertising slogan that leads us to think about harmful and omnipresent consumerism in the organism of contemporary society.

A Walze? is a suggestive title of the ambient sound installation for which the artist chose motifs of cult films of three directors (Fernando Arrabal, The Guernica Tree; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom; Mario Martone, La Salita). Six dancing figures carry the weight of the content of the selected films: the drama of the Spanish Civil War through a story of a couple in love; the harsh, heavy, and until today controversial irreconcilable theme of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom and a short film episode of La Salita, submerged into the oneiric atmosphere of a volcanic landscape, which is a surrealistic backdrop in which, under the weight of responsibility and ideological dilemmas, a democratic Naples mayor finds himself.

Ceramic figurines, a few dozen centimetres tall, with minutely made details from various materials, are shaped in the naturalistic style of traditional craftsman aesthetics of the Italian south. The stage performance of individual dancing couples in a whirl of the light waltz is a bait, yet also an intuitive manipulation with which the artist forces us into the re-thinking of perennially current topics of the selected film narration.

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