MARIJA KORUGA: OUT OF HISTORY

Large_unnamed

12 - 30 April 2019
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday, from 4 to 8 p.m.

 

Exhibition opening: Friday, April 12, 2019 at 7 p.m. 
BAZA, B. Adžije 11, Zagreb

 

A heated discussion of art historians and theoreticians of feminist orientation in the 1960s and 1970s in the USA shook the canon of Western art in its core and significantly modified the discourse of traditional aesthetics and art history. The problem of the invisibility of women’s artistic creation that was placed on the agenda both by female theoreticians of visual culture and by female practicing artists returned “body” to the allegedly neutral viewpoint of historians and thus widely opened the door not only to gender, but also to class and racial critique of the discipline.

Half a century after this feminist turn, one cannot say that much has been done in our local context regarding the revalorisation of the female artists’ artistic creation, or with regard to the collection and interpretation of their works. The dominant institutional discourse rather insists on the analysis of formal stylistic features, avoiding the discussion about the social background of artistic creation. The “neutrality” of the profession thus functions as an instrument of exclusion of everything that the conservative canon cannot tolerate. The voices of (just) a few local feminist-oriented art historians are more an exception than a generally accepted theoretical approach to the research of art, but their pioneering role in the charting of an entirely different science and art history, one that would take into consideration its sociopolitical conditions, must be recognised.

Marija Koruga's new series of paintings continues that mission: she extracts from history those female artists whom the local history of art has consigned to oblivion, at the same time using a traditional medium: painting. Six paintings from the series function as six fragments from the history of life and work of the artists that reveal all the gender troubles within the world of art. It is the very history of art that has yet to be written. And while we are waiting for the development of such a scenario, we are left with the paintings.

In medium and small formats, using the combined technique of acrylic paint, oil on canvas, collage and watercolour on canvas (and paper), Marija Koruga creates portraits of eleven female artists, historical figures born at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, of different class and educational backgrounds. Her “pantheon” of the forgotten gathers in one single place the self-educated women from the countryside who made their sculptures from straw—the only material they had at their disposal, and who have sneaked their way in to stand alongside the educated ones, who, thanks to their aristocratic or bourgeois origin, attended the most prestigious courses, schools and departments of Academies specialised for female artists. Of these eleven artists that Marija Koruga places into focus, only one has been thoroughly evaluated by the profession without avoiding the sociopolitical context and the systematic repression of her work (and private life)—Nasta Rojc. The other artists have either only recently been “discovered” by our scholars, such as Otti Berger and Vera Dajht-Kralj or have been dealt with fragmentarily, much too conservatively or not at all: Sofija (Baba) Penavuša, Branka Hegedušić, Vera Fischer, Anica Blažević, Marija Braut, Slava Raškaj…

 

curated by: Ivana Hanaček, Ana Kutleša, Vesna Vuković – [BLOK]

designed by: OAZA (Nina Bačun i Roberta Bratović)

 

EXHIBITION OUT OF HISTORY IS A PART OF THE PROGRAMME ARTISTS FOR NEIGHBOURHOOD FINANCED BY THE CITY OFFICE FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE AND SPORT OF THE CITY OF ZAGREB AND THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA. THE ANNUAL PROGRAMME OF BAZA IS SUPPORTED BY THE KULTURA NOVA FOUNDATION.