Art Mon Amour This Poetry is Better than Ideal Poetry Exhibition with a Flaw Looking at My Gaze
Offering a comprehensive overview of Vlado Martek’s work from the 1970s to the present, the retrospective Exhibition with Many Titles continues and complements the edition staged last year at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka. The Ljubljana exhibition, differing in content from the Croatian show to some extent, is the first in-depth presentation of this internationally renowned Croatian artist in Slovenia. Martek’s oeuvre may seem familiar through the numerous texts about him, but thanks to his exceptionally prolific creative output, whose abundance is almost his trademark, we can always find new works that have seldom or never left his studio. Martek’s artistic beginnings go back to the time of the Group of Six Artists (Grupa šestorice autora, 1975–1979), which pursued its activities outside gallery spaces, mainly in the streets of Zagreb, seeking contact and dialogue with random passersby. Holding degrees in comparative literature and philosophy, Martek lucidly translated his wide knowledge of philosophy and poetry into art with his verbally and artistically poetic and socially critical statements.
More than 300 selected works present the wide diversity of Martek’s artistic production: the material supports vary (although paper predominates, in different dimensions but most frequently in the artist’s favorite A4 format) as do the techniques of execution: from drawing, collage, assemblage, painting and photography to copying, drawing over, tearing, punching, stapling, nailing, plastering and pasting. In content, the works present the artist’s so-called pre-poetry stage (reflections on poetry and its elementary processes, sonnets), his actions and agitations in urban environments (with documentary material thereof), his book production (poetic objects, artist’s books, samizdats, lyrical folios), his pictogram alphabet works (featuring a 40-pictogram alphabet of his own invention), his maps, his statements on glass and mirrors, and his reflections on photography. The exhibition design alludes to Martek’s studio, which is a Gesamtkunstwerk of sorts, with every part of it – the walls, table, chairs, wardrobe, stove, bathroom, radiators, doors, windows – serving (also) as a base for presenting art or else being in itself a work of art. Opening and perusing the contents of one or another of the countless folders, boxes, bags, envelopes, packages, jars and all manner of other containers, and the subsequent conversation with the artist this inevitably instigates, always provides another striking insight into his multilayered artistic expression. The only way to truly fathom this abundant and highly elaborate and original oeuvre is to delve right in and – read Martek!