Gabrijel Stupica Under Close Scrutiny

Flora,1962 (detail), NLB Collection
photo: Dejan Habicht, Matija Pavlovec

17 April - 31 August 2014
Moderna galerija, Cankarjeva 15

The Technology of Making and Preserving Works of Art

This project is the result of collaboration between Moderna galerija's Restoration-Conservation Department, the Restoration Department of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Ljubljana, the Restoration Center of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, and the National Gallery of Slovenia. The collaboration evolved during the prolonged preparations for Gabrijel Stupica's retrospective exhibition staged at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana to mark the 100th anniversary of the artist's birth (and running until 18 May), during which Moderna galerija's Restoration-Conservation Department examined, documented, and conserved/restored more than 150 of Stupica's works. Preserving the artist's works required in-depth research into his singular techniques. Due to the extent and complexity of the task, other institutions joined the project.

Stupica composed his paintings slowly, with a great deal of deliberation, constantly exploring the limits of materials in terms of durability. There is fascinating variety in the ways he applied the different grounds, which he subsequently modeled, scraped, engraved, painted or drew on, later adding other materials and creating textures with sand, gravel, pieces of string and other objects. One of the greatest mysteries of Stupica's oeuvre is his apparent collage, which is in fact not collage: a modeled flower, imprinted lace, a painted old newspaper clipping meticulously painted down to the last detail and shadow, painted or printed letters and scribbling, creating an optical illusion, a trompe l?oeil. In the later part of his career, the artist began focusing on the decomposition of materials, creating intentional cracks (craquelure) by force-drying certain painted layers.

Scientific research was only partly able to unravel the artist's approach, which involved incessant technical experimenting and testing the boundaries of materials. Many paintings were sequels or continuations of prior works. Studies of a number of details from Stupica's paintings were painted in an attempt to repeat some of the technical solutions the artist resorted to most frequently, which gave us some insight into his thinking and creative work. The video, which constitutes an important component of the exhibition, presents the different stages of our work and the conclusions it has led us to.

Authors of the project and theexhibition: Nada Madžarac, Tamara Trček Pečak
Video: Tamara Trček Pečak, Nada Madžarac, Matevž Sterle
Selection of works for this exhibition: Nada Madžarac, Tamara Trček Pečak
Photographs for the exhibition: Dejan Habicht, Andrej Hirci, Matija Pavlovec, Sabina Povšič
Photographs of reproductions: Moderna galerija Photo Archoive, Tihomir Pinter
IR and UV examinations and imaging: Andrej Hirci
Examinations, preparation of samples micro imaging: Petra Bešlagić, Sonja Fister
Studies of techniques carried out by students of the Restoration Department of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Ljubljana
Expert consultants: Tomaž Brejc, Robert Černelč, Breda Ilich Klančnik, Miladi Makuc Semion, Martina Vovk
Slovene language editor: Vlado Motnikar
English translation: Tamara Soban
Design: Tanja Semion, Marin Šantić
Organization assistants: Gregor Kokalj, Tomaž Kučer, Marko Rusjan
Technical crew: Boris Fister, Janez Kramžar, Armin Salihović

Institutions involved in the project: MG+MSUM, UL ALUO, ZVKDS RC, NG

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