The exhibition is organized by the Croatian Ministry of Culture with the support and assistance of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Hungary, and in cooperation with the Klovićevi dvori Gallery (Galerija Klovićevi dvori) in Zagreb. Being the opening event of the Croatian Culture Months, the present exhibition of contemporary Croatian sculpture has come to the Hungarian National Gallery within the framework of an international travelling exhibition, complete with full installation and an accompanying catalogue.
As suggested by the title of the exhibition, the work of contemporary Croatian sculptors is characterized by infinite richness and diversity. Since we at the Hungarian National Gallery deem it important to place Hungarian art, or, in this case, the works of contemporary Croatian artists, in an international context, a smaller selection of Hungarian works is, by way of reflection, presented alongside the Croatian material. The works of Croatian and Hungarian artists, equally diverse in form, technique and conceptual solutions, demonstrate that the universal language of art, or, more narrowly, that of sculpture, transcends national boundaries. The works of contemporary sculptors, characterized by a sense of individuality and autonomy of expression, are wide-ranging in terms of style, utilisation of materials, and execution. At the same time, similarities may also be observed in contemporary Croatian and Hungarian sculpture. One of the common features is plurality or variety, as well as a similarity of form or content within that diversity, like in the event of works that are reflections on past or recent notions of the classical or of the modern. The exhibition presents a variety of technical, stylistic and conceptual ideas running side by side, parallel to, or sometimes reflecting on, one another, with occasional concurrences along a thematic or technical approach.
Grouped according to technique, most of the works in the show are traditional (bronze, stone and woodcarving), although occasionally, like in the event of combinations of digital prints and sculpture, conventional standards of sculpture are transgressed. Thus, the contemporary works on show, both Croatian and Hungarian, are characterised by the permeability of borders between genres and eras, too. In terms of style, the works range from figurative through abstract geometric through organic to various conceptual compositions. Geometric works, made using natural materials, are on the borderline between geometric and organic. The works in the exhibition often go beyond the limits of sculpture: they sometimes hold painterly values, or appear in combination with new media, or lead to the intersection of art and crafts by means of the selection of materials (glass, for example), or the technique utilised (such as looping or weaving).
The process of creating a sculpture is a kind of metamorphosis, whereby the material is transformed by the hand of the artist, and becomes saturated with spiritual content. In the case of the works on show, the transformation lies on the border of the anthropomorphic and the abstract, the organic and the geometric, the classical and the modern, the actual (material) and the conceptual (immaterial).
The exhibition of contemporary Croatian and Hungarian sculpture clearly demonstrates that traditional tools and techniques of sculpture are quite appropriate to create contemporary art. It also shows that a classic art form can be renewed by the innovative use of materials and techniques. The exhibition to be held in the Hungarian National Gallery may well be considered an important event on the art scene: contemporary sculpture is shown, appropriate to its importance, in an international arena.
Curators of the exhibition: Jasminka Poklečki Stošić, curator, Galerija Klovićevi dvori, and Judit Szeifert, chief museologist, Hungarian National Gallery
Assistant curator: Gábor Tokai, museologist, Hungarian National Gallery