The Centenary of the Birth of Zoran Kržišnik
 

This year marks the centenary of the birth of Zoran Kržišnik, the initiator and longtime director of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts and the International Centre of Graphic Arts.

Zoran Kržišnik has left an indelible mark on Slovenian post-war art, especially in the field of printmaking.

He was born on 26 January 1920 in Žirovnica in the Gorenjska region. After completing his studies in Art History at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, he became the first warden of the Museum of Modern Art in 1947. In 1957, he became director of the Museum of Modern Art and held the position until 1986. Kržišnik was one of the initiators and the longtime director of the International Biennial of Graphic Arts, which functioned under the auspices of the Museum of Modern Art between 1955 and 1986. In 1986, the organisation of the Biennial of Graphic Arts was taken on by the International Centre of Graphic Arts, which was established upon the initiative of Zoran Kržišnik and the Biennial Secretariat, receiving its spaces in Tivoli Mansion. Kržišnik was the director of the International Centre of Graphic Arts from its foundation until his retirement in 2000. He is the co-founder of the Grupa 69 art group. He is also credited with the globally accepted term of the Ljubljana school of graphic arts. For many years, he was a member of various international juries in reputable institutions, commissions and committees around the world. He also published extensively, wrote numerous pieces on contemporary art and presented Slovenian artists in comprehensive monographs and exhibition catalogues. He made a huge contribution to the promotion of Slovenian and Yugoslav printmaking across the world. He received numerous national and international accolades for his work, including the Valvasor Award, the Silver Honorary Badge of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia and the French Legion of Honour. Zoran Kržišnik died on 2 July 2008 in Ljubljana. In 2011, a memorial sculpture dedicated to the life and work of Zoran Kržišnik by academy-trained sculptor Matjaž Počivavšek was unveiled in front of the International Centre of Graphic Arts.

The Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is considered to be the oldest graphic arts event in the world to systematically explore the role and importance of printmaking and to evaluate and promote current print production on a biennial basis. Over several decades, the Biennial has placed Ljubljana at the heart of the contemporary graphic arts. Following the example of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, a host of others have been organised across Europe, and most notably the Tokyo Print Biennial in 1957.

Kržišnik came up with the idea for the exhibition at the 26th Venice Biennale in 1952, where he was the assistant commissioner of the Yugoslav Pavilion. In Venice, he met Zoran Mušič and the two considered the possibilities for such an exhibition. This type of event would help to develop the arts in Slovenia, opening a window to the world. They decided that an exhibition of prints would be the most appropriate for purely practical reasons and especially because Slovenian printmaking at that time was most prepared to face international art, both in terms of the number of artists working in the graphic arts and the quality of work being produced. Mušič later invited him to Paris, where Kržišnik also met with Veno Pilon, and both helped him to connect with prominent French artists. At that time, Kržišnik collected 144 graphic prints from 43 representatives of the École de Paris, which formed the core of the first graphic arts exhibition. Later, Kržišnik liked to tell the tale of having “smuggled” the prints to Ljubljana on the train.

The organisation of the 1st International Exhibition of Graphic Arts in 1955 (renamed as the International Biennial of Graphic Arts in 1973) was taken on by Zoran Kržišnik. Already the first Biennial of Graphic Arts was a complete success. Barely seven years after the Informbiro, ten years after the end of the Second World War, and during the great rift between East and West, the organisers managed to bring Western and Eastern artists together for the first time after the war. The participation of artists from all the continents was extremely important for the Biennial also later. This was further supported by the policy of non-alignment, which was finally formed at the Belgrade conference in 1961. In addition to the artists, the most renowned theoreticians and critics from the East and the West took part in the Biennial, whereas Kržišnik managed to attract esteemed world experts to participate in the jury. The Biennial was a kind of “graphic map of the world” featuring artists from all over the world regardless of style, direction and the technical execution of the artwork. The only criterion was the artistic quality of the graphic print. The Biennial was also decisive for the development of local artists, providing them with a broad insight into the contemporary world of the graphic arts. The Biennial assured artists a more solid foothold with an opportunity to establish themselves on home turf, while at the same time enabling contact with the graphic creativity from around the world. It also greatly contributed to the formation of the Ljubljana school of graphic arts and those art pieces that represent the highlights of classic printmaking production. Thanks to Zoran Kržišnik’s exceptional organisational work, his skills, excellent business prowess and sound knowledge of the arts, the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts was becoming the focal point of global graphic arts production.

The openning of the 17th International Biennial of Graphic Arts, 19 June 1987.
Moderna galerija Ljubljana Archive.

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OPEN CALL!, CRITIC IN RESIDENCE PROGRAMME 2020

MGLC Švicarija in collaboration with the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, both based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, invites art critics or cultural journalists to apply for a fully-funded, one-month residency in Ljubljana in October 2020.

Deadline for applications: 17 February 2020

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Photo: Jaka Babnik. MGLC Arhive.

Contact as the Foundation for Creativity, Experiential Gestalt Therapy Workshop with Tomaž Flajs

Thursday, 2 April, 14.00–21.00

The workshop is conceived on the experiential learning method and based on the phenomenological principles of Gestalt therapy. Contact, as the basic concept of the workshop, is understood as a sensor-motor interaction between man and his environment, which enables the survival and growth of the human organism as well as the development of a sense of one’s own identity and awareness of otherness. This will be explored through experiential exercises and experiments. One of the main attributes of human contact as a process of formation and decomposition of perceptual and motor entities (gestalts) is precisely creativity, which can be awoken when one is ready to face a new situation with openness and uncertainty. The goal of the workshop is to explore how exactly something, which may seem like a blockage and interruption in creatively adapting to a situation, can become the foundation for our creativity if we manage to find a support for turning anxiety into excitement.

The workshop is conducted by Tomaž Flajs, educator and supervisor of Gestalt therapy.

The workshop is taking place at MGLC and includes a half-an-hour break. Drinks and refreshments will be provided (water, tea, biscuits, fruit). Attendance is required for the whole duration of the workshop. The number of participants is limited to a maximum of twelve. Admission is 5 EUR (ticket to view the exhibition at MGLC).

Advance bookings using the application form (enclosed) until the available quota should be made by writing to lili.sturm@mglc-lj.si

Warmly wellcome!

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Guided tour and demonstration of the artist's printmaking method

Helena Tahir, Somewhere Near

Thursday, February 27., 17.00–19.00
entrance fee for the exhibition,
free for members of the Biennale Club Friend

The event begins with an hour-long guided tour of the exhibition with the curator Božidar Zrinski and the artist Helena Tahir. Continuing in the MGLC Print Studio, Helena Tahir presents her creative process and attitude towards the technique and the graphic print through a demonstration of frottage and hand printing with a spoon on felt.

Warmly wellcome!


Photo: Urška Boljkovac. MGLC Archive.

Helena Tahir, Somewhere Near
31. 1.–8. 3. 2020

Helena Tahir represents the youngest generation of artists to deliberately explore the properties of classic printmaking techniques both in terms of form and content, hence actively co-creating the image of contemporary graphic creativity on the Slovenian art scene. The exhibition presents drawings and prints made over the recent years, some of which are here presented to the public for the first time. Helena Tahir’s graphic prints are characterised by the loquacious interweaving of various images stemming from the imagination, brimming with meaningful associations and historical references that must be carefully observed in order to make them easier to understand.

OPENNING OF THE EXHIBITION

Agnes Momirski, siXren (Verbum Medicinae)

Friday, February 21, at 6 pm, MGLC Švicarija

The opening will include a performans by Agnes Momirski, siXren (Verbum Medicinae).

Agnes Momirski is a multimedia artist, who is currently making new work as part of the residency programme at MGLC Švicarija. The artist, who has been based in Rotterdam over the past several years, explores the voice and language through a posthumanist lens in her art practice. She uses the two to explore the various methods of secret, ancient and healing rituals. These phenomena are processed by the artist in multimedia performative actions, music performances and videos.

siXren (Verbum Medicinae) has two different materialisations; it is a music performance that will premiere at MGLC Švicarija, and it is an ambient and experimental video installation. The piece was made in collaboration with beepblip (sound) and Brina Vidic (visual and costume design).

Curator: Miha Colner.