Valvasorjevo nabrežje 4, Krško
December 1st, 2017 - March 18th, 2018
Academy-trained sculptor Boštjan Kavčič, a member of the middle generation of Slovenian artists, began his art path at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. During and after study, alongside his classical sculpture, he also worked in new media and with socially engaged projects, he carried out artistic actions and interventions in the public space (e.g. Garden Park, 2009; Let's garden!, 2007; Run for art, 2007; Made in Venice, 2005; Artificial Ecosystems I, 2001), produced interactive applications (iPoet, 2005; globalheART, 2004) and was one of the first Slovenian artists to create simple robots that portray the reality of a digitized society and the depersonalisation of human relationships (Cubot 2.0 , 2002; Rombot 1.0 , 2002). Besides creating robots, ORGanisms, or ORGs for short, began to take shape in the hands of the artist in 2002. These represent an extensive series of stone sculptures, which currently includes 60 pieces. The artist is presenting twelve ORGanisms in Krško Gallery, carefully selected and thoughtfully arranged across the space.
At first contact with Kavčič’s sculptures, they surprise us by the strong presence they inhabit in the space as well as the multi-layered nature expressed through their form. They are firmly fixed to the ground, yet they seem to be in motion. They are carved out of solid stone, yet they appear light. Kavčič’s attitude to material reflects his attitude towards the world and man’s place in it. He understands stone as the accumulation of earthly history, which prompts him to approach it with respect and treat it by listening to the inner impulses. The artist's method of working with stone is not always the same, sometimes the sculpture arises as a flash, an idea on paper, then again, he may intuitively recognize a form in a found stone and proceeds to carve it until the substance begins to breathe. He peels off simple forms from the stone block, which have a characteristic furrowed surface in the form of winding, spiralling and circular lines.
The sculptures of Boštjan Kavčič remain open in terms of content, which means that their meaning is finally formed in the exhibition space. From the twelve sculptures, ten have already been exhibited at the Lapidarium of the Božidar Jakac Gallery in Kostanjevica na Krki, whereas two have been produced especially for this exhibition. In Kostanjevica, the sculptures were arranged in the courtyard, in front of the exhibition venue and in four spaces, where we could read the story of the four seasons on four interpretive islands, recognise the symbolism of the basic elements of life, or follow the artist's suggestions, which were offered through the titles of the works, and interpret the exhibition with the help of an understanding of Old Slavic mythology. The exhibition in Krško expands on the theme of the changing seasons, stating that the Earth is fixed into the Universe, which also regulates the cycles on it. Contemporary man has the opportunity of discovering the Universe at the empirical and analytical level, whereas he is also capable of perceiving the Universe with the help of the senses and emotions. Ancient civilizations talked about cosmological processes without today's knowledge and equipment. They relied on intuition, the senses and experiences gained by observing nature. With the discovery of the telescope, with every step deeper into space, it really has become more visible, while the boundaries of the invisible have also shifted at the same time. Between the Universe and the Earth, between empiricism and intuition, Kavčič's sculptures are the light columns that the artist perceives at the emotional level. Looking into outer space, when thinking about its harmonious structure, gives him a sense of warmth and a feeling of purity and reassurance. The spiral notches on the surface of the sculptures represent the resonance of the movement of celestial bodies. But at the same time, they are also the means by which the artist achieves the effect of lightness, immateriality and rising towards the sky. Although his sculptures appear placid and have an ancient air to them, these are not archaeological relics of prehistoric times. Kavčič calls them the umbilical cords through which the Earth receives information on the ordered rhythms from the Universe.
The layout of the sculptures in the exhibition space is a process that, in addition to the physical requirements, also demands great mental effort. Krško Gallery undoubtedly belongs to the more specific exhibition venues in Slovenia, since its rich architectural elements influence the final effect of the exhibition. The starting point for Kavčič's thinking about the set-up is the totally white interior of the gallery and its heightened bouncy towards the heights. For the exhibition entitled Os, the artist chose works that have a strong vertical orientation in their form and exemplify the cosmic axis mundi – the axis of the world, which represents the connection between Heaven and Earth, into which all living beings are fixed. We read the exhibition as a narrative about the life cycle, the journey from creation to re-dematerialisation. As we enter the gallery, our gaze can encompass the entire set-up, yet the gaze is arrested by the stone in a carved shell-shape form containing water (ORG XXXVII – Deva, 2016). In silence, we can hear drops, even if we omit to notice the statue of phallic form, fixed onto the ceiling above us (ORG LX – Devač, 2017). The set-up that leads us into the exhibition illustrates the male and the female principles and can be read as an act of conception. In the central part of the gallery, the layout develops into a curve of sinusoidal shape. It starts with six sculptures, entitled Rusalke, slender, three-dimensional curves that grow from a triangular or rectangular ground plan. They rotate slightly from the ground to the tip and form the vertical axis of the sky-Earth. The rising towards the sky is enhanced in a spiral composition from the lowest (ORG XXVII – Rusalka, 2016) to the highest (ORG XXVI – Rusalka, 2016), which measures three metres in height. Each subsequent one illustrates a higher level of human development from childhood to full maturity. The curve of the layout runs towards the ground petering out in the right apse, where there are three low sculptures, called Candlesticks. These carry candles, light, on their vertex, embodying the age when the human mind shines in the light of knowledge and wisdom, just as life is about to be extinguished. The artist guides the viewer's attention to the last statue in the exhibition (ORG XXXIX – Memento mori, 2016), set in the centre of the former presbytery. On a wooden base, it rises upwards, from where it lets sand seep into a wooden bowl placed beneath. It is counting time and concluding a life cycle. It is aligned in the axis with the sculptures Deva and Devač, as well as the highest Rusalka, beginning a new cycle.
The exhibition is set at a time when the year is coming to a close, at a time of the winter solstice, a moment of pivotal energy change, as nature comes to a standstill and prepares for new beginnings. The contemplative exhibition also addresses us with the element of water that is offered to us with its purifying power. At the entrance we are stopped by the trickling water droplets contained in a rock pool. The pebbles, across which we take the winding path among the sculptures, have been carved over the millennia by the flow of the passing River Sava, which rolls slowly from here across Krško polje and fertilizes many fields on the way, makes crossings difficult and traverses borders before finally merging with the Danube. The exhibition offers a purifying rite of thought and spirit. It transforms Krško Gallery into a place of peace, contemplation and good thought, which are then taken to the south by the River Sava.
Boštjan Kavčič was born in 1973 in Šempeter near Gorica. Between 1997 and 2003 he studied Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana (ALUO). During his studies, he received the University Prešeren Award for Sculpture and graduated in the class of Prof. Lujo Vodopivec. During 2003–2005, he was a scholarship holder of the Ministry of Culture for his postgraduate studies in Video at ALUO, obtaining his Master Degree in the class of Prof. Srečo Dragan in 2007. He has presented his work in numerous group and solo exhibitions, participated in many international symposia and installed many public works. He has also organized many workshops in stone carving and video art. His works are included in the collections of AS Gallery, Maribor Art Gallery, Museum of Dolenjska, Božidar Jakac Gallery Kostanjevica na Krki and the DIVA digital archive. Since 2007, he has been working as a self-employed artist, accredited by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.
Ambient photographs: Nina Sotelšek