The exhibition is held as part of the "Artist on Vacation 2017 / Valamar"
Curators: Ješa Denegri, Dorotea Fotivec (Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde)
Organizers: Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde, Marinko Sudac Collection, Poreč Open University, Valamar Riviera d.d.
The works on the exhibition held as part of the "Artist on Vacation 2017 / Valamar" project came from the artist's long-standing exploration of painting as a medium. "Painting without painting", as the Italian art historian Tomasso Trini defined it, strongly seeks to reaffirm art as such, from tradition leaving only the physical element of the painting. In his "Paintings" there is nothing pictorial, only traces, dots, spots, the artist takes his brush across the entire monochromatic surface of the canvas. The paintings are monotone, despite their chromatic variety and the lack of any matrices or order in the addition of brush strokes. The purpose is to execute a work, without exploring other elements such as composition, light, complementarity. As Ješa Denegri wrote, "the application of colour in small spots carried carefully and slowly, avoiding any trace of gestural ritual, looks at first like an invitation to the historical experience of pointillism. But the connection is only apparent. Because, while pointillism tends to an extremely systematic action and leads pictorial practice towards a specific 'science of painting', Damnjan's approach is on the contrary emotional and contemplative, totally free from analytical correctives, and constitutes the proof of the real 'pleasure of painting', to which the artist surrenders with no restraint."
Radomir Damnjanović Damnjan (Mostar, 1936) is a painter, conceptual artist and performer. He started his painting career with moderate modernist paintings, typical of the Social Yugoslavia in the 1950s, but soon he became one of the leading conceptual artists, then strongly linked to the Belgrade art scene. From minimal landscapes he created in the late 1950s, he moved to primary geometry, and soon there was a cut with painting and Damnjanović moved to conceptual art - an artwork is no longer the end goal, but the focus is on the working process by which it is created. The early "still lives" led to the painting of objects - bottles, shelves, moving them thus to the real world. In the work "In Honour of the Soviet Avant-Garde", done in 1972 and 1973, he took on a clear ethical, aesthetic and political stance towards history of art and the system of evaluating local culture. His video works date from 1975 with "Identity - deconstruction of the books of Marx, Hegel and the Bible", done at Trigon in Graz, and later works include "The Everyday Ritual of Drinking Coffee" (1976), "From Work to Creation", "Great Still Life" (1982) and other. A highlight work is also the film "Flag" from 1974 in which he shows the Cold War relation of the two opposing blocs. From 1976 he created text interventions by which he offered a certificate of genuine artistic value as an artwork, guaranteed by his signature. The "Disinformations" projects Damnjan would realize in various media - photography and painting, demonstrating how the critical questioning of his primary, painterly medium inside the system of art and culture, was what gave him the artistic freedom in choosing the communication channel through which he presented his ideas. The return to using his body, after his seminal performances in the 1970s, happened as well through a series of "Self-portraits" made in the beginning of 1990s, where he would have, in front of a painted canvas, his face or face of one his friends or colleagues completely painted and captured as an artwork with a photograph.
The Zagreb-based group Gorgona chose him as the only artist from the region whom they invited to exhibit in their cult "Studio G" in 1962. His works are in the collections of great museums such as Centre Pompidou, New York's MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, MUMOK in Viena etc., and he exhibited at great international exhibitions such as the Biennial of Mediterranean countries in Alexandria (1961), Sao Paolo Biennial (1963 and 198/1), Documenta in Kassel (1964), the Biennial of Young Artists in Paris (1965), Venice Biennial (1966 and 1976), Tokio Biennial (1967).
Radomir Damnjanović Damnjan has been living in Milan, Italy since 1974.