Željko Beljan: Gost
November 17th - December 9th 2022
After being exhibited for the first time at the end of last year in the space of the former children's store on Zagreb's Trešnjevka, The Guest is now temporarily residing in Prostor. The two objects, placed in the space which was also once (coincidentally) a shop and now a gallery within the creative hub Prostor, form a site-specific installation - a fictional alien being that completely takes over the interior it inhabits.
One of the objects is full of form, expressing strength and almost vital energy, while the other is more passive, as if in a state of hibernation. Their relations and dynamics are affected by the correlation of light and shadow in the space. The resulting composition is of countless variations, and the tangible matter made of hundreds of meters of ropes is contrasted with the immateriality of the shadow, complementing the space which itself becomes an integral part of it. The Guest finds the space as it is and inhabits it, initially as a parasite, but over time this relationship turns into a harmonious symbiosis. In a certain sense, we can also talk about the expanded field of sculpture, which is enhanced by the specific properties of the material used. Such soft and pliable materials, namely, were traditionally used in the production of objects that sought not only to imitate, but also to simulate organic, life-like matter. In addition, at the center of the aesthetic perception of such soft sculptures is the similarity with organic things - living beings that are soft in their structure. They are also characterized by the kinetic potential, flexibility and variability - characteristic of a living organism, or another organic matter of different aggregate states which, in The Guest, can be perceived in composition of the installation itself.
The works are created as a series of improvisations using the knotting technique (macrame). Macrame, like embroidery or knitting, is a technique of manual work traditionally considered feminine and is primarily associated with a hobby, rather than artistic activity. Using the same technique, Željko Beljan also creates an art installation on a playground nearby, where he creates a new net on the neglected goal post, similarly as recently at Zagreb's Žitnjak (work Three Corners Penalty). This non-standard net in fact fulfills its basic function. While The Guest temporarily inhabits and adapts, this installation is permanent. But in contrast to the work in the gallery, which from the practical domain enters the realm of the fantasy, this work due to its functionality, approaches and examines the boundaries of applied and fine art even more. The outsiderness is present not only in the choice of technique but also in the concept itself. In the time of total fetishization of football, the work reflects a true love for that sport and game, which is also evident in the very inauguration of the work - a friendly invitation to play and participate, where the "audience" becomes its integral part and its meaning.
Željko Beljan (Vukovar, 1984) is an artist with a primary interest in working with textiles. In 2021, he completed his graduate studies in New Media at the Department of Animated Film and New Media of the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of Zagreb. Through his artistic work, he explores the phenomenon of handwork and its position in contemporary art, as well as soft art, folk and outsider art. Since 2011, he has participated in a series of juried and group exhibitions in Croatia and the region. His solo exhibitions so far: Benjamin Beljan: Željko (Kamba Garage, Zagreb, 2022); Benjamin, 2021 (CEKAO Gallery, Zagreb, 2022); Myth, Embroidery and Vuteks (NMG@Praktika, Split, 2020; Karas Gallery, Zagreb, 2020); Cartoon Core (Siva Gallery, Zagreb, 2018; Inquiry Inc., Osijek, 2016). He was the participant of the WHW Academy educational program, generation 2022. Lives and works in Zagreb.
The exhibition is part of the "Craft as a form of resilience" program which "Culture Hub Croatia" Platform is implementing in 2022 as part of the Prostor creative hub. The program is co-financed by the Kultura nova Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia and the City of Split.
Curator: Jasmina Šarić
Technical setup: Marino Vukasović, Željko Beljan