Exhibitions

45 Years of Non-Painting
Goran Trbuljak

45 Years of Non-Painting is a show about painting, or perhaps it would be preferable to say painting seen through the artist’s countless attempts to not paint over the years. With constant self-deprecating wit, since the late 1960s Goran Trbuljak has played the role of a conceptual artist and painter, outside the main currents of the western art world. Starting in the 1980s, in the context of an art scene going through profound changes, Trbuljak has embodied the figure of the artist in crisis, skeptical, conscious, disillusioned, “an artist more for what he does not do than for what he does.”

Exhibition 45 Years of Non-Painting
Artists Goran Trbuljak
Venue P420 Gallery, Bologna
All images Courtesy by the artist and P420 Gallery

Trbuljak has repeatedly adopted procedures of painting throughout his practice which question his own position as an artist, as well as art in the context and perception of contemporary society. His work examines the mechanisms by which something is accepted as art and confronts the autonomy of the museum-gallery system. With Trbuljak’s reductionist painting exercises he explores the concrete processes of creation that make a work of art. His methods, without any emotions, illusions, symbolism, narration or literature, examine the very essence of the painting and reduce art exclusively to its basic functions. In his experimentation with “non-painting” Trbuljak challenges the discipline of painting as the ultimate expression of art. For the artist, a simple gesture can function as a contribution to an artistic or social system, an action which is compounded with traces of self-effacing humor.
The exhibition outlines the artist’s career through an ample selection of works on canvas, ranging from the historic, well-known Sunday Paintings (1974) to the Hand-Held Paintings, the Painted from side works and Jazz Brush Paintings, just to cite some examples, all the way to the more recent Easel Paintings (2016-18) or Sketches for Sculpture (2019). In these later works Trbuljak imitates the formalized still life scenes typically found throughout the canon of art history, creating sculptural compositions that feature traditional tools of painting.
The show also includes the Sentences, important works on paper made by the artist “sometime in 1971 until the early 1980s.” Produced on A4 paper with a typewriter, the few, impersonal words concentrated in the lower part of the page were addressed to ordinary people, visitors to exhibitions, and mainly referred to art and its perception. The selection of Sentences inserted in the exhibition, such as “This text is my painting,” focuses on the theme of painting, in tune with the other works on view.
For the occasion of the exhibition, the artist’s book From Self Ironic to Self Sardonic (45 years of not painting) will be published in a limited edition of 100 copies.

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