Žarenje - Glowing. Oltar - Altar, 2009, 400 x 70 cm

Fizično in duhovno prežarjeni prostor

Mojca Zlokarnik je pred dvema letoma pripravila v galeriji Miklove hiše v Ribnici razstavo likovnih del, polnih posebne, neposredno dojemljive in učinkovite barvitosti. Naslovila jo je Mali Benares in tako nakazala, da je svež in živahen kolorit odkrivala na potovanjih po krajih, ki jih, vsaj v pojmovanju barve, še ni popolnoma obvladala globalizacijska moč zahodnega sveta.  V južnoameriških, afriških, azijskih in nekaterih drugih civilizacijah se je na oblačilih, na stenah in fasadah hiš ter na raznih izdelkih ohranila živahna, pisana estetika, nekoč značilna tudi za Evropo. Tu jo je zgodovinski razvoj zatrl, zato jo moramo danes spoznavati znova. Razkrivajo nam jo študije in predstavitve, med katerimi je značilna prav zdaj odprta razstava Barva življenja: polihromacija v kiparstvu od antike do danes v Gettyjevi vili v Malibuju. Na njej spoznamo, da je gola koža kipov v raznih obdobjih zahodnoevropske umetnosti posnemala inkarnat, oblačila pa so bila raznobarvna. Arhitektura templjev, cerkva, gradov in palač je bila še do baroka barvita in takšno je bilo tudi življenje. Od Aristotela do Descartesa in razsvetljencev je bila barva osrednja tema filozofskega in širše antropološkega diskurza. Že stoik Zenon je zapisal, da so barve prvi vzorci snovi, umeščajo se med materijo in njeno obliko. Iz njegove oznake izhaja ena izmed najbolj pogostih, zelo lepih opredelitev, namreč da je barva svetloba, ki je postala snov in snov, ki je postala svetloba, kar je kot izhodišče sprejel tudi renesančni neoplatonizem in za njim zahodna novoveška misel. Barve so v zgodovini dobivale vrsto simbolnih, ideoloških, emblemskih, ikonografskih, materialnih, tehničnih, kemičnih, fizičnih, psiholoških, nevrobioloških in številih drugih pomenov, ki segajo na vsa področja človeškega bivanja.

V praktičnem življenju danes pogosto zadostuje, da razločimo osnovne barve. V prometu, denimo, moramo prepoznati luči na semaforju in na znakih ločiti barvna polja ne glede na njihove nianse. Včasih, ko so bili ljudje popolnoma odvisni od narave in večinoma nepismeni, pa so morali nezmotljivo razbirati vse najfinejše odtenke, saj so bili ti zanje življenjsko usodni podatki. Antična civilizacija se je izoblikovala ob Sredozemskem morju in je bila od njega popolnoma odvisna. Dajalo je hrano, omogočalo potovanja, odisejade in trgovanja, bilo je njihovo okno v svet. Zato so ga morali stari Grki v celoti začutiti in skrbno spremljati nešteto sprememb, ki jih iz globin proseva morska gladina, enkrat krotka v brezvetrju, drugič divje razpenjena od valov, tretjič preteče zamolkla v zatišju pred nevihto. Natančno opazovanje in razločevanje najmanjših detajlov barvitosti je bilo zanesljiva vremenska napoved, napotek za plovbo, ribolovni obet; napačna presoja je bila lahko usodna, saj je povzročila brodolom ali prazne mreže. Že od homerskih pesnitev so Grki ob različnih stanjih in videzih morja govorili ne samo o sinji, bledo zeleni ali svetlo sivi barvi, ampak so to tudi dosti bolj občutljivo označevali kot odtenek sovjih oči, kot tone bakrovega oksida, kot potemnjeno belino ali kot vodno površino, na kateri se odseva nebo kadar ni vinsko rdeče. Vse barvne potankosti so bile antičnemu človeku prirojene, umevne same po sebi, tako da slavni grški filozof Teofrast barve, ki jo danes označujemo kot svetlo modro, sploh ne omenja. Zato je Nietzsche sklepal, da so Grki dojemali naravo drugače kakor mi, da so namesto modre videli temno rjavo in namesto zelene rumeno. To mnogi še vedno verjamejo in ti verjetno tudi ne morejo razumeti, da morejo, ker morajo, Eskimi v brezbrežni sneženi in ledeni belini nezmotljivo prepoznati kar sedem odtenkov.

Danes imamo o stvareh in o svetu izredno veliko informacij, tako da barve skoraj ne pojmujemo več kot samostojne entitete z lastno sporočilnostjo in pomeni, ampak jo velikokrat površno, samo po sebi umevno odpravimo kot aplicirano lastnost opazovanega objekta. Brez pretiravanja bi lahko rekli, da je zahodna družba z razvojem besednih medijev, z verskimi prevrati, z ideološko naravnanostjo, s političnim dogajanjem in predvsem z izgubo pristnega stika z naravo človeka na področju dojemanja barv razčlovečila do te mere, da je postal v simbolnem, čustvenem, čutnem in domišljijskem življenju skoraj barvno slep. Od barv ni več usodno odvisen, zato tudi niso več vsebina njegovega življenja; so le še pripomoček, napotek, ukaz, proteza. Posameznik ne zna več misliti barv, jih uživati, čutiti, slišati, vonjati. Zato ni čudno, da ostaja pojmovanje in obravnavanje barve danes v ozki domeni znanosti, predvsem fizike, optike in psihologije dojemanja. V veliki meri je odločujoča vloga barve izginila tudi iz vizualnega ustvarjanja, k čemur sta pripomogli črnobela estetika in tehnika tiska, fotografije, filma in televizije, torej medijev, ki, kljub najsodobnejšim možnostim, ne morejo verodostojno reproducirati njenih žlahtnih, izvirnih naravnih kvalitet in ji vrniti prvotnega dostojanstva.

Ko Zlokarnikova razstavlja slike polne prvobitne barvitosti, so to prispevki umetnice, ki intenzivno doživlja današnji čas in o njem poglobljeno premišljuje, hkrati pa čustveno opazuje in dojema zgodovino. Tako spoznava, da je vsaka barva samozavestna osebnost z izredno bogato in spremenljivo fizično, duhovno in simbolno preteklostjo. V zadnjem času je veliko občutljivih posameznikov na izredno pretanjen način poskušalo rehabilitirati barvo, ji vrniti njeno dostojanstvo. Pri Orhanu Pamuku se je v romanu rdeča ponosno poimenovala rdeča, Michel Pastoureau je v antropološki razpravi razkril modro, ki je svojčas veljala za toplo barvo, Gérard-Georges Lemarie je v umetnostnozgodovinski študiji povzdignil nekdanje dostojanstvo črne, ki danes, kakor tudi bela, sploh ne velja za barvo, Herman Pleij je razložil demonske in božje pomene posameznih barv, Anish Kapoor in James Turrell sta barvo popolnoma dematerializirala, Zlokarnikova pa se izraža s platni, poslikanimi s širokimi, dosledno enakomerno obdelanimi raznobarvnimi pasovi, s progami torej, za katere je Pastoureau dokazal njihovo dvoumno, pozitivno in negativno preteklost in sedanjost. Odločitev Zlokarnikove za posamezne barve in za njihovo zaporedje na platnu je nezavedna, izkustveno intuitivna in estetsko privzgojena, vseskozi pa sveže inovativna in v soočenjih drzna. V sporočilnost vsake barve, ki jo izbere, je namreč vpisana koda – če bi šlo za živo bitje, bi rekli njen genetski zapis. Nekoč so barve navezovali na pomladno zelenje, poletni ogenj, jesenske sence in zimski sneg, na štiri naravne elemente in človeške temperamente. Artemidor je v 2. stoletju razložil njihov sanjski pomen. Za krščanstvo je bila zelena znak rodovitnosti zemlje in božje milosti, rdeča je poveličevala trpljenje Kristusa in mučenikov, modra je opozarjala na Marijino materinstvo in nebeško slavo. Zato se Zlokarnikovi  barve ponujajo z vsemi zgodovinskimi, psihološkimi in simbolnimi konotacijami, ki jih izbira in iz njih ustvarja harmonične celote; podobno kakor glasbenik najde ustrezne tone, da ubrano zazvenijo v prostoru.

Kostanjeviška galerija je bila nekoč cerkev, tako njena gotska, kakor pozneje barokizirana stavba, umetnostni okras in obredna oprema so bili polihromirani. Danes so stene popolnoma bele. Zahteva po vračanju k antični veličastni belini, ki ni bila nič drugega kakor pasatistični ideološki konstrukt racionalizma, je tudi tu, namesto pestre baročne notranjščine narekovala dolgočasen videz bele monotonije neoklasicistične arhitekture. Ta, kot je zapisal Manlio Brusatin, »prevladujoča higienična belina« izvira iz filozofije barv, sloneče na Newtonovih teorijah, po katerih je bela stabilna in dokončna, odločujoča barva, na katero se nanašajo vse druge. V 18. in 19. stoletju je obvladala mesta, pomembne zgradbe in posvečene kraje, njihovo opremo in okrasje ter tako začrtala mejo s temnimi, umazanimi in zakajenimi industrijskimi objekti in delavskimi naselji. Med odlikovane arhitekture so seveda sodile tudi samostanske celote, zato tudi notranjost kostanjeviške galerije ohranja podobo vzvišene beline. Le redki sodobni umetniki so jo uspeli s svojimi deli oživeti. S slikami Mojce Zlokarnik je njen prostor fizično zažarel in postal duhovno prežarjen.

Jure Mikuž

Prvič objavljeno v: Mojca Zlokarnik: Žarenje / Glowing, Kostanjevica na Krki: Galerija Božidar Jakac, 2009.

Žarenje / Glowing, 2009, pogled na postavitev / installation view, Galerija Božidar Jakac, Kostanjevica na Krki, foto / photo: Boris Gaberščik

 

 

A space lit up physically and spiritually

 

Two years ago Mojca Zlokarnik staged an exhibition at the Miklova hiša gallery in Ribnica of fine art works full of a special, directly graspable and effective colourfulness. She titled it Mali Benares [Little Benares] and thereby indicated that she had discovered the fresh and lively use of colour while travelling in places which, at least in their concept of colour,

had not yet been entirely overtaken by the globalisation power of the Western world. In South American, African, Asian and certain other cultures, clothing, walls and house fronts as well as various products have preserved a lively, colourful aesthetic that once also characterised

Europe. Here historical development suppressed it, so today we have to discover it again. It is revealed to us by studies and presentations such as are characterised by the exhibition open right now entitled The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present, at the Getty villa in Malibu. Here we realise that the bare skin of the sculptures in various

periods of Western European art imitated natural skin colour, while clothing was multi-coloured. The architecture of temples, churches, castles and palaces was colourful right up to the Baroque, and so too was life. From Aristotle to Descartes and the Enlightenment, colour was a central topic of philosophical and broader anthropological discourse. Even the

stoic Zeno noted that colours were the first patterns of matter, placed between material and its form. His designation has given rise to one of the most frequent and very fine definitions, namely that colour is light that has become matter, and matter that has become light, which was also adopted as a guiding principle by Renaissance Neoplatonism and after it by

Western modern-era thinking. In history colours acquired a range of symbolic, ideological, emblematic, iconographic, material, technical, chemical, physical, psychological, neurobiological and numerous other meanings that touch all areas of human existence.

 

In practical life today it often suffices for us to distinguish the primary colours. In traffic, for instance, we have to recognise the respective traffic lights and distinguish colour fields on signs, irrespective of their nuances. At one time, when people were entirely dependent on nature and for the most part illiterate, they had to distinguish unfailingly all the slightest differences in shades, since that information was vital to their lives. The civilisation of Antiquity was formed along the Mediterranean Sea, and was entirely dependent on it. It provided food, enabled travel, odysseys and trade, and was their window to the world. For this reason the ancient Greeks needed to perceive comprehensively and carefully monitor the

countless changes that emanated from the depths to the surface of the sea, one moment windless and placid, the next moment foaming wildly with the waves, and another moment threateningly quiet in the calm before the storm. Close observation and distinguishing the most minute details of colour provided a reliable weather forecast, guidelines for sailing,

and promise for fishermen; the wrong assessment could be fatal, causing shipwreck or empty nets. Ever since the poetry of Homer, the Greeks spoke about the different states and appearances of the sea not just in terms of blue, pale green or bright grey, but they also frequently labelled it more sensitively as the shade of their eyes, the tone of copper oxide, as

a shaded whiteness or as a water surface reflecting the sky when it is not wine-red. All the subtleties of colour were ingrained in the people of Antiquity, and were self-evident, such that the famous Greek philosopher Theophrastus makes no mention at all of the colour we identify today as light blue. Nietzsche therefore concluded that the Greeks grasped nature differently from us, and that instead of blue they saw dark brown and instead of green they saw yellow. Many people still believe this, and they probably also cannot understand that Eskimos are able in the endless whiteness of snow and ice to identify as many as seven shades, because

they must.

 

Today we have an exceptionally large amount of information about things and the world, so we almost no longer conceive of colour as an independent entity with its own message and meaning, and we often dismiss it superficially and self-evidently as the applied quality of the observed object. It would be no exaggeration to say that through the development of text media, through religious upheavals, ideological orientation, political events and especially through the loss of genuine contact with nature in the area of grasping colours, Western society has dehumanised people to such an extent that in their symbolic, emotional, sensory

and imaginary lives they have become almost colour-blind. People are no longer vitally dependent on colour, so it is also no longer a part of their lives; it is simply an aid, a pointer, a command, a prosthesis. The individual no longer knows how to think colours, ingest them, sense, hear and smell them. It is therefore no wonder that the conceptualisation and treatment of colour today is confined to the narrow domain of science, primarily physics, optics and the psychology of comprehension. To a large extent the decisive role of colour has also disappeared from visual creativity, something abetted by black-and-white aesthetics and techniques of printing, photography, film and television, in other words of media which despite the latest possibilities, cannot faithfully reproduce its original, natural qualities and give it back its primary worth.

 

When Zlokarnik exhibits paintings full of primary colourfulness, they are a contribution from an artist who is experiencing intensively current times and pondering them deeply, while at the same time she is emotionally observing and grasping history. In this way she recognises that each colour is a self-aware personality with an extraordinarily rich and changeable physical, spiritual and symbolic past. Recently there have been many sensitive individuals who have tried in an extraordinarily refined way to rehabilitate colour, and to give it back its dignity. In Orhan Pamuk’s novel, red is proudly called red, in his anthropological discussion

Michel Pastoureau revealed blue, which at one time was regarded as a warm colour, in his art history study Gérard-Georges Lemarie elevated the former dignity of black, which today, like white, is not even regarded as a colour, Herman Pleij explained the demonic and divine significance of individual colours, Anish Kapoor and James Turrell completely dematerialised

colour, while Zlokarnik expresses herself on canvases painted in broad, consistently evenly worked polychromatic bands, in other words with strips for which Pastoureau proved their ambiguous, positive and negative past and present. Zlokarnik’s decision to use individual colours and their sequence on the canvas are unconscious, artistically intuitive and aesthetically imparted, all the while being freshly innovative and bold in their combinations. Inherent in the message of each colour she chooses is in fact a code – if this was a living being, we would call this its genetic signature. Once colours used to be tied to spring green, the fire of summer, autumn shadows and winter snow, the four natural elements and humours. In the 2nd century Artemidorus explained their dream significance. For Christianity green was a sign of the earth’s fertility and God’s grace, red exalted the suffering of Christ and the martyrs, and blue denoted Mary’s motherhood and heavenly glory. So Zlokarnik’s colours are

offered with all their historical, psychological and symbolic connotations, which she selects and then from them creates harmonious wholes; similar to the way a musician finds the right tones to ring out harmoniously in the space.

 

The gallery at Kostanjevica was once a church, both its Gothic and later Baroque-adapted building, and the artistic decoration and ritual furnishings were polychromatic. Today the walls are entirely white. The demand for a return to the grandiose whiteness of Antiquity, which was nothing other than a passatist – one who ascribes importance to the past in looking

to the future – ideological construct of rationalism, dictated here too instead of the variegated Baroque interior the tedious appearance of white monotony in neoclassical architecture. This “prevalent hygienic whiteness”, as Manlio Brusatin wrote, derives from the philosophy of

colours based on Newton’s theories, whereby white is the stable and complete, cardinal colour, to which all others relate. In the 18th and 19th centuries it dominated cities, important buildings and consecrated places, their furnishings and decorations, and thereby marked a boundary with the dark, dirty and smoky industrial buildings and worker settlements. Architecture of distinction also of course included monastic complexes, so the interior of the Kostanjevica gallery preserves the image of exalted whiteness. Very few modern artists have succeeded in enlivening it with their works. The paintings of Mojca Zlokarnik have physically illuminated this space, and it has been lit up spiritually.

 

Jure Mikuž

Translated by AMIDAS.

First published in Mojca Zlokarnik: Žarenje /Glowing, Kostanjevica na Krki: Galerija Božidar Jakac, 2009.