Matija Bobičić: Nocturnal animals

The paintings of Matija Bobičić occupy a rather atypical position within the production of other painters of the same generation – unmarked by realistic figures and without trying to subvert popular culture or re-question aspects of cultural production. The author avoids making any conscious political statements at any point; he refuses to create the impression of ambivalence or ambiguity as to whether his creations are a critique or tribute to the society. In an almost forgotten modernist fashion, his paintings are simply what they are. Without any deliberately politically incorrect manifesto and lacking any treatises that would seek to shift them beyond canvas, brush and the painter’s hand.     

Bobičić’s works are defined by an articulate intuitiveness of the painter’s strokes. The features are often harsh, even childlike in their blunt expressiveness, yet for that very reason so very voluble. Perhaps this almost self-ironic tendency is best observed in the extremities of the creatures that inhabit his canvases – for example in The Swamp. Most of his older works were constructed upon individual details, which occurred more or less spontaneously in the course of the painting process. He then proceeded to turn the images around, breaking them and compressing them until an effective image emerged. In this brutal process the original detail was often lost. More recent works demonstrate a more careful consideration of the key elements of the painting, something which is most evident in the works that include graphic prints. These are a powerful counterpoint to the forceful strokes of the brush, reaching from the simplest, primordial – the scream of the red handprint in Alone in the cave – to the rather sophisticated – the horse skull in Death. Although his most recent works are often built around consciously selected graphic elements, even these regularly fall victim to the painting process. Devoured by the painting and occasionally entirely obscured by the brush, they are driven almost beyond the point of recognition, turning into a shrouded echo of the original idea. Despite Bobičić’s rather impulsive painting process, his works reveal a careful consideration of the compositional balance and color theory. Compared to his older works, where the spacelessness of the canvas was populated by frail, delicate figures drawn by fine lines, the recent ones are far more complex in terms of composition. Clearly defined figures seldom occupy the central point (traces of this tendency can be observed in the triptych Sacrifice), and even when they do, the figure appears wounded, crippled and on the verge of breaking down into the background (Moby Dick). Thus the focal role is shifted from the central figure onto the relations between graphic elements, the decomposing outlines of animals and the background, which is no longer a monochrome, but an increasingly live entity.   

Occasionally it may appear that his paintings hold a nostalgic and naïve quality. They are seemingly unburdened by politics, the cultural industry and contemporaneity. Yet the absence of a clear socio-political narrative does not imply an absence of commentary, whether intentional or not. The works exude an air of anxiety, a restless search for some lost, forgotten purpose.

Matija Bobičić (b. 1987, Maribor) is a final-year student of art education and a representative of the youngest generation of local painters. His contribution to the 2005 edition of Transgenerations Festival of Youth Creativity held in Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana, has won him a recognition award for an outstanding contribution to the event. In 2011 he co-authored an exhibition in Hladilnica, at the Pekarna cultural center in Maribor together with Marko Damiš and participated in a group exhibition Sesvetski likovni umjetnici & gosti in Kurija Gallery in Zagreb, Croatia. His first solo exhibition entitled Razsnovljen appeared in 2013 at the Rotovž Gallery in Maribor. In the same year he formed part of the 30th art colony Riviera in Poreč, Croatia (St. Nicholas Island).

The exhibition will be on display until September 1st.
KiBela / KIBLA Maribor

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