Zoran Šimunović, Do Astronauts Need Art?
The National Museum of Modern Art, in its “Josip Račić” Studio, presents an exhibition of Zoran Šimunović, one of the most prominent Croatian visual artists of the younger generation. Conceived by Branko Franceschi, Director of the Museum, the exhibition Do Astronauts Need Art? will showcase recent works of this distinctive artist, curator, motorcycle and tattoo enthusiast. From 10 February to 7 March, Zagreb’s cultural public will be able to view thirteen large-format oils from two series created in the last two years, Hommage to Space and Do Astronauts Need Art? After Zagreb, the exhibition will travel to the Sikirica Gallery in Sinj, and then the Ružić Gallery in Slavonski Brod.
Due to the public health and safety situation, there is no official opening.
Excerpt from the Branko Franceschi’s foreword from the exhibition catalogue –
Two series of paintings that Šimunović presents in this cycle of exhibitions, coupled with their indicative titles we will now focus more attention on, formally and contextually follow the narration and morphology of the described works. According to the artist, the first series titled Hommage to theSpace is dedicated to the space of privacy and intimacy, which is referred to in terms of content with the choice of figurative elements, as well as with the atmospheric, abstract parts of the painting, and the palette and colour tones. However, Šimunović’s dedication to space can also be interpreted as a commentary on the painter’s current attitude towards pictorial space as a visual medium. Actually,pictorial space is constituted through its execution according to the painter’s intention. Representations of space in mimetic art are developed in accordance with the technique used to construct space for a more or less realistic depiction of the scene. In non-objective art, pictorial space is developed by combining autonomous aesthetic categories such as the line, surface and colour. Šimunović
creates his pictorial space as a deliberate combination of the figurative and the abstract by successfully reconciling these two extremes, thus establishing a recognizable style that strides both sides of the great divide that marked the history of painting in the twentieth century. The new series of Šimunović’s visualizations of the space of intimacy introduces elements of the exterior into the composition as well. The background is rendered with two colours, forming the horizon line and the premonition of the landscape. The sudden motif of a mountain which he positions in the very centre of the
composition or nearby, contributes to this, as a conventional symbol of the premonition of obstacles. Šimunović exhibits the second series under the title Do Astronauts Need Art? Is this a rhetorical question? Could an analogy with the title of the famous SF novel by Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream
of Electric Sheep? help us with the interpretation? I have always understood this question as an expression of the view that androids, as a human product, have the potential to act and be more human than the humans themselves, as confirmed by the legendary adaptation of the novel into the movie Bladerunner directed by Ridley Scott. If we assume that in the narrative context of the structure of the universe, we are all actually astronauts on the spaceship Earth, that is travelling through space at the speed of 853 kilometres per second, Šimunović essentially poses the crucial question on the role of art and artists. Given that no one has yet provided a meaningful answer to the eternal question of what art is, the historical fact that a palm print, as one of the first conscious traces of man in the universe, is in fact of artistic nature, can be sufficient evidence that art has not only always been and will forever be necessary, but that it is also the ultimate expression of human nature, and that the evolution of human visual expression is still taking place before our eyes in the work of every artist. In addition, just as flying is more important to astronauts than the targeted exploration of space, so the act of creation is more important to artists than art itself. To paint is necessary and that is the be-all and and-all of all questions.
The Artist’s Biography
Zoran Šimunović (Vinkovci, 1984) graduated painting in 2013 in the class of prof. Antun Boris Švaljek from the Academy of Fine Arts in Široki Brijeg, BIH. He won the Rector’s Award for the best student in the academic year 2010/2011, and the first prize for the short film “Book”, Sony; BiH in 2012. Since 2014, he has been working as a curator of art collections at the Vukovar