Klasja Habjan exhibition

The Klasja Habjan exhibition Homunculus ludens
for the Virtual Gallery of the Art Pavilion

Homunculus Ludens

Like the other projects in the A Different Perspective on-line series of exhibitions, this show by Klasja Habjan too makes use of recordings of CCTV cameras in the interior of the Art Pavilion building.  In line with the rationale of the whole series, to provide ingenious approaches in the spirit of low-tech practice, including the innovative use of tools and resources in an open approach, Klasja Habjan, working together with programmer Paolo Čerić, has devised an animation that with the assistance of a publicly accessible simple programming language (JavaScript) intervenes into the surveillance camera recording accessible on the Web site of the Pavilion, making it at least minimally interactive.  The animated drawing is also simple and unpretentious – a monochrome silhouette of a figure and the figure’s shadow, the kinetics of which is also elementary, are the only protagonists of the action that consists of circulation in the central space of the Pavilion, the rotunda, and in surreal fusions of the figure, or its shadow, with the pattern of the real-life paving on the floor of the gallery.  Visiting the Art Pavilion’s Web page, the visitors can themselves  activate some of the scenarios for the behaviour of the  drawn homunculus on the menu; depending on which of the trapezoids of the floor incrustation they click on, the figure will on entry move circularly, dive into the floor or emerge from it, dissolve and take on the shape of the trapezoid pattern, suddenly grow and vanish, turning into smoke, or on the other hand sit calmly and observe how the pattern in the very circular centre of the floor is turned into a forest of upright lines. And even if the visitor to the virtual exhibition does not him or herself launch the animation, in the course of time it will begin to shift shape according to the algorithm provided.

By inviting this kind of interactive participation, Klasja Habjan suggests to the virtual visitor a kind of identification with the drawn doppelganger. And actually, he or she does exactly what the regular public of the Pavilion currently may not and cannot: like a burglar secretly getting into the space, via the window of the southern altana of the building.  But the differences do not cease here. While the visitors of conventional exhibitions, who according to the rules of good behaviour are enjoined to restraint in their reactions, the character does not hide his delight. Although in the Pavilion there is currently nothing to see, the little drawn fellow gives itself up to the experience; it walks in a circle, going around in the way the logic of the space itself enjoins, literally immersing itself in the reality, literally melting from the strength of the impression, literally rising to the heights of the sublime and turning into ether and literally looking at imagined, dreamed up situations that in reality do not, in themselves, exist.

It is about, then, a story of the states of mind aroused by art, which Habjan tells with the help of the poetic figure of embodied metaphors.  In the context of the highly cultivated world of art, which presumes exclusivity of knowledge and a refined taste, this kind of immediacy and intensity of reaction is bound to seem naïve.  But this homunculus is not an arbiter of quality, nor an ambitious and wealthy connoisseur; he is just a subject who is full of love for art, which has an effect upon him even when it is not visible with the naked eye to the conventional public. We can perhaps assume that for this uncommon art lover it is actually the very emptiness of the Art Pavilion that is the occasion for ecstasy. For the gallery space of the Pavilion is at last free of everything that is lateral and superfluous to art, everything supplementary, everything alienated, everything that makes art the capital of the minority; the gallery space is at last brought down to the essential – the beauty in the eye of the beholder, the capacity of everyman to perceive the man-made reality in its relationship to the serenity of infinity, to react to it creatively, like a true homo ludens to play with it in the name of the imaginary justice of the world. And while the world of art, or its establishment, systematically converts art into assets and power, setting down the modalities of its use, the place and manners of its consumption, exchanging its values for large amounts of money, the homunculus of Kaslja Habjan embodies the ideal amateur perspective, the retrieved ability to simply be moved by art, to be touched, carried away, elevated by it, to melt before it.  Even if in this phase of the development of civilisation this is not enough for the social functioning of art, it is a good thing to remind oneself that it is still the only thing needful.

Author of the text: dr. sc. Ivana Mance

Access the virtual exhibition by clicking on the photo:

List of exhibitions

Solo exhibitions:

2020.   Napokon netko!, serija kolaža prema priči, Galerija Rigo, Novigrad

2019.    Džungla, serija plakata, Bar Botaničar, Zagreb

              Crtice, zbirka priča i grafika, Galerija Šira, Zagreb

2015.    Ilustracije i animacije, KSET, Zagreb

2014.    Pješčani grad, crteži prema priči, galerija Skale do Sunca, Stara Novalja, Pag


Group exhibitions:

2020     Kolektart, prodajna izložba, Lauba, Zagreb

                Situacija, (Anti)salon mladih, Galerija Canvas, Zagreb

                Izložba hrvatskog dizajna 19/20, online, HDD, Zagreb

2019      Bratoljub, Centar za kulturu Trešnjevka, Zagreb

2018      Izložba hrvatskog dizajna 17/18, MUO, Zagreb

                 36 Mountains, HDLU, Zagreb

                 Boranka u Botaničaru, Bar Botaničar, Zagreb

2017       Ilustracije pričaju, Oris, Zagreb

                 Unakrsno klikanje – Slavka Pavić i fotografi, Galerija Forum, Zagreb

                 Pričam ti priču – izbor iz suvremene hrvatske ilustracije, Galerija Krsto Hegedušić, Petrinja

                 The Other Side, putujuća izložba interaktivnih plakata, Švicarska (La Chaux-de-Fonds), Srbija

                 Galerija KM8, Beograd

                Knjige za gledanje: knjige za čitanje, galerija Šira, Zagreb

2016      Petnaest, 15, FEKP, Živi Atelje DK, Zagreb

2015      Crtomat, festival ilustracije i stripa, Gradski muzej Virovitica, Virovitica

                Internacionalni laserski samit jeftine grafike, Na rubu, Lauba, Zagreb


2020  Crtice, zbirka ilustriranih kratkih priča i pjesama, Petikat, Zagreb

            Duh Bauhausa, strip-knjiga; priča i ilustracije, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti, Zagreb

2019  Lažna vječnost, kratke priče i pjesme, Književni časopis Tema, Meandar Media, Zagreb

2017  Unutarnji orkestar, kratke priče i pjesme, Književni časopis Quorum, Meandar Media, Zagreb

2008  Grafička mapa Lun, priča Crtež; ilustracije: Danijel Žeželj, priča: Klasja Habjan, umjetnička radionica Petikat, Zagreb


Klasja Habjan (Zagreb, 1993) is an illustrator, a graphic designer, and a writer. She graduated Magna Cum Laude at the School of Design in Zagreb where she majored in Visual Communications (2016). She received the School of Design’s Annual Award for her project Notepad ‘Unblock’: a notepad for drawing, writing and research (2013/2014). Klasja was selected as one of ten Croatian illustrators whose artwork was included in the catalogue Illustrators from Croatia/ Illustrateurs de Croatie (Mala Zvona, Zagreb, 2020) which was distributed during various international book fairs.

Her affinity for illustrating her stories (or, the other way around, for accompanying her graphic templates with writing) characterizes her solo exhibitions. Her exhibition Pieces at the Šira Gallery (Zagreb, 2019) combined both mediums; monotype graphics were displayed in pair with prose or poetry. A year later, she wrote a collection of short stories and poems under the same title Pieces, published by Petikat.

A story, told through seven collages, was exhibited in the Rigo Gallery (Novigrad, 2020) under the title Finally, somebody! The Spirit of the Bauhaus (MSU, Zagreb, 2020) is Klasja’s second book that also unifies illustration, writing, and design. In 2021, on the same topic, she illustrated a card deck called Bauhaus Around You (produced by Form Function Studio in partnership with Goethe-Institut Washington). Klasja also illustrated children’s picture book Piccola con Piccolo by Bruno Mezić (Mala Zvona, 2021).

Together with Zita Nakić, Klasja has a design studio klasja&zita through which she often engages in the field of culture and participates in various group exhibitions with publications, posters, and visual identities.