- June 20, 2008
You are kindly invited to attend the
opening of the exhibition on
Tuesday, May 27th at
8 pm at Galerija Škuc.
A guided tour
with the curator will take place on Wednesday,May
28 and Friday, June 20 at 6 pm
Željko Jerman is the one who poisoned me with
contemporary art. He is the one who showed me that art can
be sincere and untamed. He was not religious, but had
passionate faith. He lived art and shared it without
prejudice with the people around him. Some liked it, some
did not. The truth often hurts, but that is how life is.
Jerman knew that well and was never prepared to play games,
hide his opinions or change his views to stay in favour.
I first met Jerman as an artist when I stood
dumbfounded in front of his work Martine instalacije
('Marta's Installations') at an exhibition entitled U
prvom licu at the Zagreb gallery PM. This was the
turning point, the moment when the poison of contemporary
art flowed into my veins. It was the beginning of a story,
of the time I started to get to know Jerman.
The characteristics of a human and an artist
are inseparable in the case of Jerman since his art
constantly reflected his life and emotional state. Art is
his mirror, what he is, what he thinks, wants, loves and
hates. I saw many different moments, be it in art or
everyday life. For Jerman, the daily routine was an ocean in
which he found ideas, tore and cut them, but most of all he
subjected them to his feelings.
The idea of an exhibition about Željko Jerman
struck me about a month after his death in 2006 when I was
thinking about how to fill the exhibition slot Jerman and I
had received at the Škuc Gallery for 2008. The story about
our exhibition collaboration began back in 2004 when we
began preparing a project aiming to show the relationship
which was gradually developing between Jerman and myself
through art and curatorial practice. The starting point of
our relationship was the exhibition Med ognjem in
umetnostjo at the Škuc Gallery in 2004, which was the
beginning of our active communication. Already in the summer
of 2004 we would regularly exchange e-mails and meet in
Zagreb, where we would scribble our ideas in notebooks, on
paper napkins, bills, and anything else at hand. I tried to
find out as much as possible about Jerman's art, the 1970s
and 1980s and other things. Jerman would always help me,
send me texts, introduce me to people, but at some point I
realised that I would be unable to grasp the truth of his
work until I got to know him since his art and personality
were so closely intertwined. That is when our relationship
began to grown beyond the professional one and became
personal. Topics of our conversations would shift from
photography, intimate slogans and chemical procedures to
everyday things like love, misfortune, passion, fantasies,
fear and pain. We tried to bring all of that into our
exhibition project, which began to reflect our relationship.
The project was not a classic diary in
progress but highlighted the subjects and issues we dealt
with, be they intimate or professional. At times the
neurotic muddle of comments, thoughts, discussion, drawings,
artworks and silence began to transform into a meaningful
whole. Sometimes we would joke that we were in long-term
psychotherapy which we were trying to legitimise as art.
There were ups and downs, from the gloomy bottom to the top
and back. It was often dark as, due to pain and poor health,
Jerman would fall into an existential crisis he could not
find a way out of, yet he always maintained the hope of
mounting an exhibition at Škuc. He never gave up, although
sometimes he was unable to do any more work. Flirting with
death was not foreign to him. I often thought that he was
somehow fascinated by death. He was not afraid of it, but
flirted with it. He did not care about advice and
restrictions, but remained faithful to his pleasures and
managed his life as he saw fit. He had the same attitude to
art. He created things and destroyed them at the same time.
An end was a new beginning for him. And for me as well.
Jerman's death was the end of an era for me, a period which
he had begun.
The death of Željko Jerman came as quite a
shock to me. I did not expect it, even though I knew his
death was not too far away. He knew this well and was
probably the least afraid of it because of that. But for me,
his death radically cut our relationship and was an enormous
blow to the project we had built together. What remains in
the exhibition is Jerman, my view of him, which means
everything. I am transforming everything we did together
into an exhibition. It is not a traditional retrospective
exhibition, but my subjective view of Jerman as a person and
an artist. It is what we both wanted from the very outset: a
sincere confession through art.
The exhibition in the Škuc Gallery seeks to
comprehensively present the art of Željko Jerman in a
subjective way. The selection was made from his entire art
production created between 1970 and 2006, while I developed
the concept of the presentation from our e-mails, notes,
talks and sketches; namely, our communication between 2004
and 2006. The exhibition is a conglomerate of Jerman's
characteristics which came to light more prominently in the
course of our communication. Consequently, his works at the
exhibition are divided into the following areas: intimacy,
leaving a trace, death, sea, and passion and expression.
These works also highlight Jerman's key
formal approaches and subjects he tackled in different
periods, thereby weaving a common thread; however, the
formalistic issue is less prominent. The art works from the
early 1970s are mainly photographs which reveal Jerman's
interest in setting the boundaries and possibilities offered
by photography as a medium. He took pictures and
intentionally developed blurry photographs, he intervened
with chemicals, pens and other objects on the photographic
paper. He tore and cut the photographs and set them on fire.
However, destruction always produced new life. Later, he
began to focus on elementary photography, processes and the
chemicals used. Jerman knew extremely well the materials and
media he employed and knew how to take advantage of them, be
it the use of chemicals, colours, light, photo paper or any
combination. At the start of the 1990s, when Jerman became
deaf and had serious health problems, his art saw a
formalistic change. He began to focus more intensely on
video and communicated his concept and views on art via
writing, which became practically the only way he would
communicate with the outside world. All of this influenced
his art which, however, still remained sincere, innovative
and radical, as can be seen in the dialogue between the
works created in different periods of his life.
So, the exhibition has been set up and
reflects how I saw Jerman. Jerman who, even when he was not
supposed to, smoked his Largo cigarettes with the greatest
pleasure. One after another. Passionately. Which is how
everything was with him. He always took whatever he could
from life, but gave back even more. I am trying to transfer
to the gallery what he gave me and communicate it through
art. Art is what brought us close, us and kept us together
amidst the turmoil of everyday life. Art speaks for itself.
It does not need to be translated, put in a box and framed
within a concept. On the other side of the abyss it is
evident that I need art. Not as a translation, box or an
illustration of an impenetrable conceptual framework. I need
it because it speaks about Jerman the most sincerely. It
speaks about what I am trying to say. After I run out of
words and they grow silent, art is the only thing which can
develop this story further and take it into another
whirlwind of emotions and thoughts - mine, yours, theirs and
countless others. But when it comes to Jerman it will always
be about art.
Curator of the exhibition: Tevž Logar
This exhibition is dedicated to Željko Jerman.
Uwe Laysiepen - Ulay: Credibility of
Thursday, 29 May at 19:00 in the Škuc Gallery. The lecture
will be in English.
Darko Šimičič: Željko Jerman, jedan od Grupe
šestorice autora (Željko Jerman, one of the Group of Six
Friday, 6 June at 19:00 in the Škuc Gallery. The lecture
will be in Croatian.
Rada Janković: Jerman:
Dekonstrukcija = konstrukcija (Jerman: Deconstruction =
Thursday, 12 June at 18:00 in the Škuc Gallery. The lecture
will be in Croatian.
of documentary films and videos will take place at the
Cabinet of the Domestic Research Society.
Ivan Faktor, production HZS, 2005
Photography in Croatia - Željko Jerman,
Anamarija Habjan, production HTV, 2004
exhibition - Željko Jerman,
Breda Beban and Hrvoje Horvatič, production HTV, 1996
The Group of Six Artists,
Gordana Brzović and Kristina Leko, production HTV, 2002
Exhibition-actions of the Group of Six Artists,
production Institut za suvremenu umjetnost SCCA - Zagreb,
A guided tour with the curator will take
place on Wednesday, 28 May and Friday, 20 June at 18:00.
In collaboration with the Domestic
Švertasek, Ješa Denegri, Darko Šimičič, Iva Rada Janković,
Uwe Laysiepen - Ulay, Mojca Deželak, Marinko Sudac, Družina
Badurina, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb, Maderna
Galerija Ljubljana, Institut za suvremenu umjetnost SCCA -
Zagreb, Janka Vukmir, Ivan Faktor, Gordana Brzović,
Anamarija Habjan, Vlasta Delimar, Alenka Gregorič, Joško
Pajer, Atila Boštjančič, Ajdin Bašić and editorial board of