Lovro Artuković: Deceleration Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik

Umjetnička galerija Dubrovnik

December 10, 2020 – February 28th, 2021 – Museum of  Modern Art Dubrovnik

November 5, 2020 till November 29, 2020 – Modern Gallery, Zagreb

ORGANIZERS: The Art Pavilion in Zagreb and Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik

In association with the Modern Gallery, Zagreb

Expert conception, selection of works, catalogue essay: Leonida Kovač

The Art Pavilion in Zagreb and Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik are the joint organizers of the exhibition Deceleration in which, after many years, Lovro Artuković is presenting himself in Zagreb.

The exhibition should have been held in Zagreb in the Art Pavilion from mid-July to mid-September 2020, in the general framework of the cycle Ambiental Exhibitions of Contemporary Croatian Artists for the Art Pavilion. In the meantime, Zagreb was hit by the earthquake, which inflicted great damage on the Art Pavilion, because of which the gallery is closed until further notice. Therefore the exhibition is now on display in Zagreb at the Modern Gallery, for which we are most grateful to its director, Branko Franceschi.

Lovro Artuković has lived for years in Berlin, and had his last show in Zagreb in 2014 in Lauba. Since then in Zagreb, his native town, we have not had the chance to see works by this artist.

Artuković’s primary medium is figurative painting. In the creation of his works he uses the traditional technique of oil paint on large format canvases. This exhibition, too, includes large-sized paintings, but there are some new elements as well, related to the artist’s explorations in visual art. This has resulted in the great richness of detail in his recent works. The exhibition in Zagreb, and subsequently in Dubrovnik, is presenting 43 works created in the period from 2015 to 2020, and is divided into four sections: Golden Foils and Reflections; The Melancholy of Night Lights; Visit to the Studio; Excursion.

From the list of Artuković’s solo shows it can be seen that the painter exhibits but seldom and that his creative process is very lengthy, the works ultimately coming into being over a rather long period of time. Certainly, this artist cannot be accused of hyper-production, and he says of himself, quite to the contrary: “Big production is something that is completely unknown to me, I cannot create in that way”.

Lovro Artuković says about the title of the exhibition Slowing Down and also about his recent work:

“In the last few years I’ve been living in an incessant internal struggle. The fact is that my paintings, or the things I want to achieve with them, are taking up more and more time. I think one doesn’t need to find the reason in my getting older and generally slowing down, rather in the multiplication of details in the paintings, while the manner in which I paint – the countless applications of transparent paint in a single place so that I can obtain the presence and the density of what is painted that I want – takes hours and hours that just slip by imperceptibly. Seated for days in front of the same painting, enslaved to just a single detail, I often think that I ought to speed my painting procedure up, be more productive, work in key with the age in which everything unfolds at a frenzied speed, an age in which, I’m afraid, nobody anyway is going to have the patience or the concentration to engage in looking at my pictures with a slow, old-fashioned kind of pleasure.

Actually, I have got myself into this trap, as it sometimes seems to me. I have permitted the circumstances of life, and not some plan or system, to guide me in the choice of subjects, But when I look at what I have painted, I see that it had to be painted in just that way. For the sake of energy, of the atmosphere, for the sake of everything that I wanted, consciously or unconsciously, to achieve with each of these paintings. Since I haven’t (yet) invented a patent to permit me to paint simply and rapidly, while also being content with what is painted, at the end I always humbly acknowledge this slow and painful manner, even if it sometimes frustrates me, as my personal and identifiable manner. And so I decided to exhibit the paintings done in the last few years under the title Slowing Down.

Lovro Artuković was born in 1959 in Zagreb, Croatia, and took his art degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in the same city. He has developed his painterly idiom, which is based on figuration and intimism, primarily on the iconography of urban civilisation. For some years he worked as a teacher at the Applied Art and Design School in Zagreb, subsequently, for nine years, being employed as assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. In 2003, he moved to Berlin, where he makes his living as a freelance artist. He has had numerous one-man shows. He had his first solo exhibition in 1985 in the Vladimir Nazor Gallery. In 2008 he had a retrospective in Klovićevi dvori Gallery, entitled Best Paintings, which encompassed works done between 1984 and 2008. This exhibition was accompanied by an extensive catalogue of his works also entitled Best Paintings authored by Blaženka Perica (Klovićevi dvori Gallery, Zagreb, 2008). In 2001 he received the Annual Prize of the Croatian Artists Association, and in 2013 the Prize of the Public at the exhibition Macht Kunst, in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle.

Several distinguished art historians and critics have written of Artuković’s oeuvre, including Krešimir Purgar, Feđa Vukić, Leonida Kovač and Blaženka Perica . Two films have been made about it: the experimental film Theft directed by Lukas Nola of 2004, and the documentary L.A. Unfinished by Igor Mirković of 2008. His works are to be found in numerous public and private collections at home and abroad.