Marko Šuštaršič (1927 - 1976): A Retrospective

6 February - 1 September 2013
Moderna galerija, Cankarjeva 15

Exhibition curator: Marko Jenko

The retrospective is the most extensive exhibition of the artist's oeuvre by now; there are over 250 exhibits, including paintings, drawings and graphic work. Some of the works have not been on view in Slovenia for several years or decades, some even never before. The works come from private and public collections in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro.

In October this year it will be 60 years since the Art Exhibition: Moderna galerija's Smaller Exhibition Rooms, which featured the work of seven young artists, a group initially known as "Seven Young Artists" but soon named Group 57, representing one of the major postwar developments and individualistic trends in modernism in Slovenia and the then Yugoslavia, the most prominent member of this group being Marko Šuštaršič.

The artistic development of Marko Šuštaršič has four clear stages, tightly linked despite the obvious visual differences with recurring elements; his second, probably best-known stage starts in the late 1950s (exhibition rooms 2 and 3), the third, "picture-book" stage begins at the end of the 1960s (room 4), while his final, "green" stage is between 1973 and 1976 (room 5).

The exhibition display is conceived chronologically in five exhibition rooms, starting with Šuštaršič's student years and following through to his untimely death, that is, from the late 1940s through 1976.

→  Images from the exhibition

In terms of artistic issues, the ones Šuštaršič deals with are fairly typical modernist ones: from the issue of space, or rather, its gradual disappearance, to the surface and the frame, then the "framing" of an image, which becomes quite prominent toward the end of the second stage and continues to be central in the third and fourth stages. Every stage is marked by a slight shift in the range of colors: at the turn of the first stage the colors gradually darken as the hovering or floating figures and the world of object diminish; the second stage peaks with large color surfaces (particularly red surfaces are characteristic), with other elements apparently scattered over them - here the question of possible but inexplicit development toward abstraction could be added. A formative role is also played by childlike drawing; Šuštaršič met with that already at the academy, not only in the work of his professor Gabrijel Stupica, but, according to oral reports, already in the work of Edvard Ravnikar. Later, when working as a teacher, he saved many of the children's drawings. The penultimate stage, that of "picture books", in which paintings and prints are composed of smaller pictures, almost as a postmodern topos of a wall of images or screens, is characterized by stronger, saturated colors, with green becoming increasingly predominant toward the end of the stage. In the final stage, green really stands out: the figures taken from the mass media, present already in the "picture books", are now transferred with a shift into realism against a background of green landscapes.

The exhibition curator Marko Jenko Ph.D.

Moderna galerija owes a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Nina Šuštaršič Remic for her generous help and support in realizing both the exhibition and the monograph. Our sincere thanks also to all the private owners and collectors of artworks, Slovenian and foreign public and private institutions and individuals who have made this project possible by loaning works, providing information, or assisting us in other ways.

This project is supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia.

Exhibition curator, editor of the catalogue: Marko Jenko, PhD
Restoration: Marijana Kapus Dukarić, MA
Graphic design: Jagoda Jejčič

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