DUBRAVKA LOŠIĆ: Palindrome / Between Earth and Heaven

The exhibition project "Palindrome / Between Earth and Heaven" is giant composition of assemblages, consisting of two cycles, Joggers and Rosaries. Exhibited works are created between the 2007 and 2011 as a result of artistic research of images and different materials.


The Dubrovnik Atopia of Dubravka Lošić psychomachy, arrhythmia, palindrome, healing aliquid stat pro aliquot something always stands for something else St Augustine I think that for the form of my work the material has always been crucial, exclusively that by which I was surrounded in childhood.  It was there when I was growing up, remained when I had matured. It was always important that everything I do should be made only of it. Mounds and bales of threads and cloth with agitation in its folds. For me, forbidden and untouchable. Is it today liberation, purification? I do not know. But a feeling of calming does exist. At last, I can use them. Raw, unusable, liberated, generalised, hermetic, without beauty, without charm, not completed, cooled down. The painting in its conclusion is frozen, aired, and hovers.

Dubravka Lošić, November, 2010   The creative work of Dubravka Lošić is autographic. Breathing and that through which the breathing is done, the thinking and that through which the thinking is done, the feeling and that through which the feeling is done.  The obligation/force is of the liberation of the tactile libido in the tissue and texture of material, in its shadows, folds, limits and cuts. Dissemination of the epithelial, in contour and sign. Feeling texturally. The agitation in the structures is tamed in the composition, framework in the box.  It is absorbing and obsessive. It lives synchronically in digressions and variations. The irony is made poetic, creating distance, thinking, reconciling and healing the fragmented kaleidoscope of the world. It comes into being with an enormous effort of purging, subtraction, resistance, and solipsistically and today we find it, as arche , almost  without an author, without calculations, in the genius of the language, ingeniously.  The syllables of two speeches.  The frenzied and the chaotic and that deposited in the form of prayer, rosary, offerings and graves. The Dionysian, and of those before him that knew the earth is always down, the earth up, and that everything between is provisional. As Metaphor I wrote of Big Runners in summer 2008, at the time of the Dubrovnik Festival, during Marin Držić jubilee year.  Displayed in the atrium of the Sponza Palace, they were tense, dramatic, exclamatory. An image of panic in the style of allegory.  The invocation was Homer’s: “Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles, Peleus’ son / Calamitous, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans”.  The association was turba and the comedy of Držić’s people of the real, people of the intentional. The memory was of the great Dubrovnik quake of 1667, a seismographic fibrillation of the overpopulated world in the claustrophobia of its great Street, and all together a metaphor of the irony of the world as a stage…. this was   Dubravka’s Dubrovnik atopia, a common place of   the extension of an area that I, by will of appointment,   invoked with loss of harmony and in carnivalisation, in that which aroused and healed dis-ease, which touched on, recognised and awakened traumas for which we can find no cure save with madness. As Redemption In July 2010 Dubravka opened an exhibition in the Sebastian Gallery, Dubrovnik.  By some chance before the exhibition we started a correspondence that became exalted and our conversations waxed enthusiastic. It was something about Dubravka’s horizons, and her roses and rosaries. “Something more,” she added at the end of one letter, “Since everything is always the same and comes from the same thing and the same materials, it only looks different and is called different, I shall sequence there those rosaries (rose gardens) that I think you haven’t seen, though I have told you of them. Have I gone too far? – You haven’t.”  I replied fast so she shouldn’t change her mind and because as far as her gesture is concerned, whatever it may be like, I have no authority.  “You haven’t gone too far. And it won’t be too much, for it has all been so empty since before our thinking and feeling all that is left is comment. Perhaps for fear. Perhaps for   shame, perhaps indeed from powerlessness…. I think that all should be brought into the light, everything that you call the “nebulous things” from your woman’s room… and rose garden.  The vulvas of roses kept and buried in boxes.  Budding and blown, seductive and used up, overblown and wounded, orphan roses, sultana roses, widows and maidens that have faces, have colour, scent, heady and edible and steeped with its cleaning… I didn’t tell you this winter about Boltanski.  He unloaded fifty wagons of old clothing in the Grand Palais , mountain and magna mater, dedication to the memory of those  that are gone and as a great redemption.  As preparation and end of the great colourful and black Carnival.  In the loud beatings of the heart, as altar and ritual to the Great Vulva that has borne all, swallowed all and spat all out upon this terrifyingly lovely world that we are horrified at and whose border we want to touch. It’s impossible, but try. Perhaps we’ll find redemption.” AS RESSENTIMENT OF THE WRITER            I wrote everything then as best I could, yet today I draw back from the emotionalism the words spoken and the emotions and the shortcomings and oversights.  But since not everything is possible at every time and since every text is changed with the context and its meaning comes in by shifting and slipping along new diagonals of space, in the process of signifying and radiating the sign, in the Art Pavilion Dubravka is presenting another, far more arbitrary state, although “everything is always the same and comes from the same thing and the same materials it just looks different and is called differently”. In the lust for an ultimate saturation of her topoi and an ultimate hibernation of her own obsessive morphemes – Runners in the form of marionettes in the entropy of futile energy and Roses placed in boxes and frames the way a sacrifice is made, food is offered, an altar arranged, a bier embellished – she unites and distances them in an inextricable contradiction of the dyad that is read in the image of the great psychomachy of the world. And yet I shuffle around the pieces of the puzzle of my text and my reading and change the accents. Happy and honoured, listening to the hum and tremor of sense. BIG RUNNERS – KOUROI Although the topography of the Big Runners in this rhetorical form – in the indeterminacy of the frenzied sign and its script  – could hardly be seen, they are themselves not a surprise. They appeared in the nest of Dubravka’s concentration and mnemonic cause two and a half thousand years old, in mutation and eccentric fibrillation and deconstruction of motifs of the black figure archaic runners with their trophied pan-Athenian amphorae.   The model recalls the diaulos, the form of the athletic race of the pan-Athenian pentathlon that took place on a double parallel track moving around posts at the narrow ends. It was demanding for the runners, who all moved at the same moment. It sought particular skill in the turn of directions, and success depended on the regularity of rhythm, balance and skill. On harmony. By a transformation of the archaic canonised rhythm, which resembles an anthropomorphic solar swastika, the Apollonian ritual of the victor of the pan-Athenian games was turned into a silhouetted marionette , into the play of puppet on a string, composed of nine moving parts. The kouroi, the young men, lose their cultural and heroic seme, and their meme is turned into disturbing morphic silhouette of life size, the jointed mechanics being drawn by invisible threads.  Their behaviour, the fierce energy of their action, the futility of this vehemence that takes them back to the beginning of the race, piles and overturns them, is a challenge to us to find an etymological name. Neurospast is the Greek name for Dubravka’s runners who are like members and like nerve. In action senseless, conditioned and unavoidable. Dubravka does not stop at the conception of prototypes. She acts like queen bee, rules the matrix, has projection. She herself saws in the wooden board and cuts the drawn atlas of patterns of the body. Accumulates modular stencils in an incessant search for a larger space – expands the territory and borders, and reconstructs the world with their multiplication.  Selects and piles up rags. Pastes them as skin, pulls below it the circulation and nervature, sews and unpicks the wounds, exposes them to the sun, rain and wind that corrodes and bleaches all. Outgoes nature and vies with her own physical strength. As exorcist, demiurge, healer. And at the end, as reflection of this long repeating gesture, that lasts as long as the raising of the world, the shattered kaleidoscope of the Big Runners becomes an agonic drama, a fight of giants or dwarves, a collapse of continents, a chaos of systems, enigma, riddle and screen of the demolition of myth. The Runners are below the horizon in a cacophonous turba and muttering.  In the search for an organising principle of disorder, in their wild semiosis of the sign they awaken the optic nerve innerving the perception with all the topoi of the visual construction. The space is sensitised as emptiness that expresses and as force that casts out onto the margins, while the form endeavours   to be impressed as body and as shade, as positive and negative.  Longitudinal, centripetal and centrifugal force are frustrated in the same action.  Contour as internal and external drawing is represented as fold and sharp edged cut, expands over the surface and marks the depth. Configuration is abstract and mimetic, geometrical and anthropomorphic, epithelium-haptic and incandescent, cold and constructive.   Monochromy prevails over the surface, bichromy and the odd intruder over the layers.   The optic nerve is bombarded, the Futurist dynamics is exalted with the simultaneity of Cubism.  In the folds, metabolism wells out, the agon and current of interiority. The colour of the runners is a symbolic nest of differentiation and individuation. Geography and topography. Black and white sublimation of animus and anima, night and day, the alchemical nigredo and the albedo of death. Blue is spiritual and beyond the tactile, red is sensual, overwhelming and carnal. The colour of the flesh is natural, the most vulnerable, mimetically the most resonant, bare and uncanny. The colour signifies, the gaze is surgically cold and sharp, compassionate and passionate, opens the cicatrices and heals them. Cold Baroque is an accompanying post-modern phrase for Dubravka’s runners that today silently spill over into an altered Moderne, into the renovation of myth in the association of a big metaphor.  In the dithyrambic metre of their archaic meme and measure, the melée, the swelling of chaos, arrhythmia and phobos are mingled, turning the race into flight and panic, into a Dionysian dance. The Apollonian golden harmony is turned into the whirl and turba of the mob.  And we do not have to look far to call up Picasso’s Guernica, the modular forms, the sharpness of outlines and cuts and the dynamic palindromic reading in which the view always has another reverse impulse in the search for a hidden morphic harlequin (Futurism, Cubist, Op Art, Minimal, post-Minimal), real and auratic. The Big Runners are assemblages and large collages, reliefs, objects, shadows, silhouettes, contours and – a painting.  In the context with roses that came later they became an unravellable dyad.  In their colourist-symbolic clashes they are a vast movement and a vast disturbance of language and decor, memory and state, myth and modernism in a state of alteration in the consumption and metabolism of the sign. In their format they are the great stage set and conduct of the world, in the sensuality and nature of the material the topography of its experience, in colour a Manichaean fault line of life cycles and dramas. They concern metaphor and allegory and raise the narrative substratum of the uncovered scene. They come into being In the Name of the Father of a symbolic, anthropometric and logocentric order the centre of which has shattered into pieces. ROSES, ROSE-GARDENS AND ROSARIES – CHORA If the language of Big Runners is the language of the cultural mnemonic substrate created from its eccentric transposition and dissemination, today’s Lošić Roses and Rose-Gardens are the chora, the anthropological, pre-memory and pre-symbol level of language , the void of the first structure, the storehouse and contingency.  In the middle of November Dubravka let us know that the roses for the Pavilion were completed and placed on twenty one large platters as plateau and bed made of resinous matter, of turbid transparency.  Or like back and breast. Dubravka calls them “bones”.  In mid-December she announced – all the roses are destroyed.  The endless, arduous crumbling and plucking and unsticking for the platters to be emptied. The reason came with a laconic explanation: They were expected, predictable, too lovely, too exciting, and all were too satisfied with them. I am not afraid of Dubravka’s oversight, I don’t think of any mistake. I have an unclear presentiment of the consequences, but I can’t predict them ultimately. In January Dubravka lets us know that the new roses are ready, but they are different, raw and calm. Harmonised and connected with the runners. I thought: emptied.  On the concrete floor of the workshop that was Dubravka’s workshop for years, there was, in the translation of the rosy material, a horizontal image of the last sentence of Eco’s from The Name of the Rose. Nothing is left but to write it out. Unnecessary though, for as soon as it appeared, it was no longer possible to exempt it. Stat rosa pristine nomine, nomina nuda tenemus. The former rose remains just a name, only a name we keep. And the Chora was aroused. A Platonic term the space of which is like matrix and nurturer.  A space without a name, before individuation. A milieu in which forms materialise.  Adopted by Julia Kristeva. She filled it with fundamental semiotic concepts such as the earliest movements, touches, the expression of feelings and urges. Derrida called the Chora the idea of space, place, area, region. It also contains inescapable connotations of the feminine. It is like mother, nurse, box, vessel and container and stamp. Roses have always been there in Dubravka’s work, as gesture of nature and life .  As procedure of gathering, organising, adorning, planting, sowing, germinating, forming, sculpting, modelling, painting, clearing and – cleaning. Structural, Art Informel, agglomerations grids and repetitions, they lived in an aura of tactile and sensual memory. They could be olfactory, musical, quiet and noisy, fragmented and enlarged. They signified order, created disorder. They were the medium for the emission of meaning and its nest. They could be joy, death notice, dedication, irony, commentary. In their form they were symbols, from their speech came emission and irony. By definition they were a post-modern invention and a compilation of symbols, language and speech in a seductive artefact inexhaustibly recycled through materials, of the always enticing and always resourceful and equivocal Eros. The roses to date could be horizontal and vertical.  These roses and those that will follow them – if any – can only hover weightless on the way from object and material to Chora as matrix beyond symbol, signifying on the way nothing, not even themselves, only the emptiness of possibility. They are neither complement nor antinomy to the runners, just their lost centre and place of no return, the uninhabited deity in which there is neither work nor image. The state is fragile.  It is kept by an invisible cohesion squeezed and overflowing the edge of its bed by attraction of structures. It comes into being in the extreme minimalism of gesture – in the selection and placement of its raw materials, preceded by the great December destruction and cleansing – the opposite to that in the Runners.  In the desert language  in which at one time a thousand things are seen. The rose in this rose garden has no linear flow.  Like the Chora, in this rose there is no mutual  reference between subject and object,  there is no relation of object and subject that the Runners excite with their racket.   In the form of the rose are snail and bud, pubis, nipple, tuber, in their agglomerations are parcelling, city, necropolis, warehouse, katorga. It lies in the fertile warmth of amniotic fluid of its bony bed. Repellent and abject.  It announces its pulverisation, dissolution into powder and pigment that is the sea, sky and sand, skin, cardinal and earth saying that there is no thing that is not a cloud (Borghes). Or that cannot be. NATURE AND CONTENT In a supposition that can probably be disturbed by nothing, for it is experienced by the alarm of all the sensors, I think that in the work of Dubravka Lošić today we are in an exceptional personal style.  In the dyad that in one pole of it is a saturation of visual memory and a metaphor of the world and in the other a desert in which one thing has a thousand meanings. We speak of the consequence of creativity that from the moment when it was first shown, at the end of the 1980s, has incessantly and without a break accumulated in a vast scope and in a syntax that is multiplied in sequences, in modular systems, accumulations, with densities of enticement of material and sign.  It is nourished with materials and the matter of memory of the haptic world and the visual imagination.   Within this period she took secondary materials and abstracted them from a fragmented world.  They are defragmented, hibernated in a second form in the scale and space of new ratios. Identifiable from their intuition, sensitivity, intelligence of selection and comprehensiveness, on a grid that does not break up but rather takes in the whole. The veiled or selective memories of the sensory morphemes in Dubravka’s artefacts flood in, coming always from artistic periods of disquiet, mannerism and the labyrinth, beyond the logos and gravitation.  The magical and healing character of the matter, the procedure of its application and transformation into the epithelium of the runners and the roses can be connected up with the shamanic congruences of Joseph Beuys, and in their codes and selections, tissues and labyrinths, which in their gashes and folds nest the libido and the anxiety of desire and repulsion, we can read a confession. It is faith and confession in emotions that go beyond the capacity to bear….they disturb me and I have to be rid of them, says Dubravka like Louise Bourgeois. Menippean satire and carnivalisation have an inexhaustible thrust in the field of artistic topoi. This is absorption from the edges and the centre, it is memories that lead and that are references from the broadest stratigraphies of post-modern diachrony and are in the spirit of Derrida’s great deconstruction according to which everything is already present in a vast written text, which we shall call here the megalopsyche.  In all this, Dubravka can be identified with two great trump cards: a humour that is a compassionate irony and with the seriousness of her own nature that, we do not doubt, knows that the sky is always up, the earth down, and in between lies our provisionality. In a position of envy of Dubravka’s gesture – which self-confidently shifts and multiplies the semic particles, defragmenting and reuniting the shattered image of the world wishing to catch up the whole, I have dealt with the topology of humming. A thought that it was not possible, and perhaps not seemly, to attempt to delve further towards an author who moves drawn by her own language in gesture of question and answer, constraint and liberation  with almost no name, likeness and nomination of her own. And so, aware that I am not within the thing, but am circling around it, listening to the humming and trembling of sense (Barthes), I am left still in translation, transfer and the field of metaphor.

Text: Margarita Sveštarov Šimat    

Artist Biography: Dubravka Lošić was born on August 15, 1964, in Dubrovnik. She graduated from the Applied Arts School in Zagreb, and in 1988 took a BFA in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, class of Ferdinand Kulmer.  She is also ABD in art history from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. She has been exhibiting since 1983 at numerous individual and collective shows in Croatia and abroad. In addition to painting, she works with set and costume design. She lives and works in Dubrovnik. Address: Od Montovjerne 13, 20000 Dubrovnik,  Tel., fax +385 20 331600, Cell +385 91 439 13 53