en Mirna Krešić



Trace runs from 20th February 16th March at ArtEco Gallery, London, UK.

Mirna Krešić - Julie Clark - Andrew Leventis

Strangely, sometimes it is only when vision has been blurred that an image burns most clearly, allowing the eye to see what it would normally overlook. In the exhibition Traces, ArtEco Gallery is proud to present works by Jules Clarke, Mirna Kreic and Andrew Leventis. Through their varied yet complementary works, a dialogue of shifting perspectives and blurred lines brings to light delicate traces of movement, a complex interplay of light and, like time-worn photographic prints or blurry newspaper prints, a sense of past moments, captured, archived and rediscovered once more.

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My paintings form a space in which to explore the residue of a passing moment, or, rather, the imprint of an event explains Jules Clarke. The fluidity of paint is used to describe how one moment becomes another. In seeking to create a visual expression of memory, the American-born artist finds inspiration from photographs taken from moving images in popular film and television, as well as Internet and private family footage. The process of painting becomes a form of resistance against the constant flow of images and the fast pace of technology, she continues. Through subjects that feel as if they are floating, struggling to remain upright, flitting in and out of focus like the ghosts of forms, Clarke seeks to materialise in paint the areas where the camera has struggled to process an image, where the fragility of withdrawing a still image from a moving one is revealed, and figures begin to erase themselves or become part of their surroundings.

Similarly, in the works of fellow American Andrew Leventis, still life moments from photographs snapped of period dramas on television form the basis of his oeuvre. With their shifting focus, obscured faces and dramatic use of shadow, a sense of intimacy is achieved, yet coupled with an air of mystery. I am concerned with the tension that is created between the painted and the technological image, he says. The filter of the digital screen is meant to index the appearance of looking back at the past from the vantage of the present. By exploring how contemporary television borrows configurations from painting, Leventis borrows back from the cinematic designs of what we see on our own television screens today, giving each scene a new visual and emotional depth. At a certain point, still life becomes portraiture, as the boundary is blurred between person and thing, he muses. Objects become symbolic portraits and people become illustrated possessions this kind of still-life portraiture seems contradictory in that it equates people with objects, yet it also valorises the character of the individual. Indeed, it is at this very blurring of distinction between still life and portraiture that Leventis locates his practice.

Finally, for Croatian-born Mirna Kreic, it is the opening up of new spaces, as matrices for visual associations, memories and feelings that act as the recurring theme in her works. Searching for a place before and beyond words, she explores the infinite probabilities of becoming or fading away through a fragile balance of visual marks, a space before and beyond words, a space of infinite probabilities and possibilities, at once coming to life and fading away. These marks come to life as monochrome, stormy paintings, fine slashes of pigment like dark rain, or delicate, blurry images with flecks of delicate hues, sometimes bursting into entire canvases composed of pools of colour. It is through the eyes and mind of the viewer, she says, that the painting reveals its true possibilities each time has the potential to be intimately different.

What draws the works together is the sense of dreamscape they invoke, explains the gallerys Kristin Hjellegjerde. Akin to the works of Richter, whether through the subdued colours of Leventis and Clarke, or the nearly mono-chromatic pieces of Kreic, these three artists are brought together through the gentle traces of lines, life and existence. Together, they can bring the viewer to a different place a world of gentle stories and humble feelings.


Texte rédigé à l'occasion de l'exposition tenue à Paris le 1er avril 1990 à la Galerie François Majault.

Hors des séductions de l'esthétisme, la peinture de Mirna Krešic s'inscrit d'emblée dans un univers de la rareté. Une seule question l'anime : que peut la matière ? Ainsi met-elle en œuvre une véritable ascèse de la forme. Ne lui accordant aucun crédit, elle l'interroge dans ses fondements. Elle construit en creux.

Le trait a la maladresse et la puissance, mue par la nécessité, des dessins d'enfants, des graffitis aux murs des prisons ou des signes d'une humanité à ses origines. La ligne brisée, pleine d'hésitations et pourtant ferme, ne campe que des constructions rudimentaires et fragiles qui ignorent symétrie et harmonie mais tentent de tenir un volume, une entité solitaire, duelle ou en jeu avec d'autres éléments (disparition, rencontre ?...). La perfection du cercle n'y a pas sa place mais y conserve sa dynamique, revient sous sa forme oblongue, ouvre des béances.

Bien que parfois étales, lisses, glacées, les surfaces ont néanmoins, souvent, la mémoire de la main qui les a tracées. Elles conservent des empreintes, des coulées. Cependant, elles sont là pour éprouver l'espace, l'élargir, le creuser, créer des plans divers et multiples. Elles renvoient vers qui regarde la brillance diaphane et hallucinante de leur éclat ou se perdent dans l'infini sombre de la profondeur. Quelquefois simplement elles jouent comme fond, elles structurent. Le noir jette alors son opacité en haut de la toile, marquant la limite - séparation élémentaire mais menacée - de l'horizon.

Enonçant une gamme très riche de gris colorés, la couleur se montre aux marges d'elle-même, au bord de devenir noir et blanc, ombre et lumière. Avec parfois un cri : un rouge qui tranche ou bien au contraire une tache chaude de terre, naturelle, brute.

L'ancienne confiance dans le combat entre Ordre et Chaos n'a plus cours dans cette peinture. Née au cœur du trouble, elle veut opérer une remontée vers les sources mêmes de la forme, l'en-deçà de la matière pour tenter, par ce mouvement de dépossession, de permettre l'émergence d'un nouvel équilibre, et d'arracher ainsi la blancheur ses aspérités et à la nuit ses lueurs.


Texte rédigé à l'occasion de l'exposition tenue Zagreb le 20 décembre 2001 au Gradec, Galerija Klovicevi dvori.

In the environment of trans-avant-garde enthusiasm of he colleagues in the eighties, her painting struck me as somewhat restrained and detached. I had no information about her for a while. Somewhat later I heard that she was in Paris, and I was convinced she would not fail. After all, the work that has founded all of its hopes in itself plainted the seeds of its future early on.

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Should I wish to tell a story about stability and continuity, there is no better example than the work of Mirna Krešic. Should I wish to speak about the variableness and dynamism of growth of an œuvre as a whole and its numerous faces, Mirna Krešic's painting again presents itself as a prime example. The peaceful evolution of her style and the steadiness of her œuvre have never erased the marks of mornings and morning dew from each and every of her works.

Accordingly, we can speak about the intrinsic maturation and fermentation of her uvre, and about a certain culturological transcendence of modern heritage (L'art informel, material-quality, structuralism, lyrical abstraction, tachism...) which originally had very little in common with any aesthetic inclinations or segregations. Mirna Krešic was attuned to a more sensitive world and chose not to anonymously entangle and sacrifice it to the community of generational "bad painting". Even when some of her artistic features brought her closer to them for instance in 1982 and 1983 she remained different. She was special then and she is special now.

This renewer of personality, this advocate of her personal way, has found her way between the extremes of intellectual dryness and excessive debauchery of "bad painting" by her generation. Even when her works bore the fermenting germs of neopainterly philosophy, her structures gave rise to a special sensitivity and a different offspring. And there are no regrets about it. Like Šop himself, when compared to her generation, she appeared as a "painting cosmonaut who had lost her connection to the parent ship". She has known her way around the world she created.

The formal kinship between her earlier and later works does not serve to testify to a consistency of style, bu trather to the consistency of being. It is a configuration of personal development and maturation that expressed itself in her actions and above all in her being able to turn matter into feeling.

Numerous characteristics of her work paint a picture that is better defined by attributes than nouns.

(Maybe that is why she gives no titles to her paintings.)

She is more interested in the nature of things than in their names.

In his text about Mirna Krešic's painting from 1983, Tonko Maroevic speaks of "high seas... comets... starry nights of magic, enchantment, wonderment..." To all of these we should add her deep and strong intuition, and her pronounced feeling for the nature of her materials (canvas, paper, ink, the qualities of tone, properties of blotters and stains) and we get to the nature of language that determines a person as much as her childhood does.

Our research could start from the earliest works (1993 and 1994), from relief surfaces and the nearly opaque layer of matter furrowed by white lines. The painting is full of some informal, earthen matter. In its nocturnal and non-transparent character the white lines appear as a pure luministic element!

Subsequently, the density of paint layers develops into structures of variably-sized stains surrounding traces of light. She enriched the surface of her paintings by spilling, dripping, impressing her hand and fingers and so on. In her works from 1996 and 1997 the relation between black and white creates the impression of a palimpsest or a crust surface covered in writing. Under these structures, traces and imprints we sometimes discern raw pieces of canvas, whereas a black stain on one side finds its analogy in a differently-colored related form of the other side of the field. Over the last two years she continues to deal with numerous linguistic, evocative and sensitive powers of a painting and she brings to it free dripping, i.e. "water-color" ("rainy") characteristics of paint. In some recent works she has been covering canvas edges by opaque backness or color, subsequently suggesting the flow of wide coloristic columns along the vertical axis.

Finding a basis in her earlier uvre, Mirna Krešic's latest works exhibit the airiness of a coloristic register in which light has been assigned the task of a certain inherent structural truth. Moreover, stains in her paintings possess a certain "kinetic quality", which is equally hungry for the sun. This pronounced sensitivity to color and organization of form is more intuitive that projective.

Light is her great them! All strokes, all forms and structures become more visible through light. Light makes matter more airy. The "inside" light in a stain or color modifies and enlivens matter. It is capable of picturally softening the crust of things in the hard, bitumen-like and opaqua mass. No matter how miniature this trace of light may be, it opens up space, pulls in the viewer, multiplies structural levels, relativizes opaqueness. At the same time, nuances of tone turn better visible and colors, imbued with light, feed the "sub-skin tissue" of matter.

Allowing ourselves a certain free flow of associations, we could speak about "spatial imagination" and compare this œuvre with "weightless states" or "poetic expeditions" of the poet N. Šop. Alternatively, we could be seemingly contradictory and speak about the "spontaneity of method" that "promptly finds its way and its language in order to survive" on the road of "a new and unknown language". Mirna Krešic achieves this through light-induced transformations of mass that is pulsating, "moist", structurally and poetically convincing. Mirna Krešic always brings us something new, if not innovative. Poetic deliberations take part in all analyses. Consequently, the methodology of construction and the freedom of stroke and stain create a fascinating fresh and sensory quality of the surface, which reveals meditative and poetic elements alongside the more pronounced relief and materialistic qualities.

Mirna Krešic has been working on herself free from the imperatives of style and the exclusivity of a happily found personal sign. She has been playing with her artistic environment (past and present) and probing the question of modern and contemporary art heritage. As far as she is concerned, Mirna Krešic knew how to give her nature a distinct form.

Where there is no energy, there is no sensitivity. She dreams on the rough ground of matter and all the density, all faces, forms and structures poetize phenomena that normally do not inspire tenderness. As a result, her ability to submit faces to change and metamorphoses finds no easy analogies. This work has found its way, forged its own destiny the past and the future!

Still, for the love of analogy, care for details, documentation and similar, here it comes! Estève, Inshio, S. Francis, Suzuki, D. Judd, Debré, the metaphysics of space by Joshihare or Laganne, or spatial hieroglyphs by Teshigahara or De Latour, numerous lyricists of the post-war school of Paris, or, why not? dekalkomania and reflections of light found in Motika although these consonances are vocal rather than real, and, least of all, nominal.

Although a member of the generation that defined itself as conceptual, transavant-garde or "prehistoric", Mirna Krešic has quietly explored painting methods and material, light and airiness. She has introvertly searched for a certain evocativeness of stains, crusts, smears and imprints, and harmonization of structures set in motion. In her paintings matter becomes permeable and airy, filled with light despite of its density, the poetic being of a painting.

She knows how to equate form with matter and matter with form, and to add depth to her works by "piercing" and enlivening seemingly opaque crusts by flashes of luminous color marks (most frequently yellow or white). These stains of light do not serve to brighten the surface, but to stress the complexity of structures that retain traces of spontaneous approach and formative consciousness.

Mirna Krešic regards painting as the sacred locus of her being. Her answer to provoking remarks about the "old-fashioned nature" or apocalyptic abolition of easel painting is a carefree and unperturbed sneer at the long-expected, but impossible, death of painting.

We pass through these spaces of order and coincidence, along the paths of an artist who built her own self so sturdily in rain and tender frost of her states.


Texte rédigé à l'occasion de l'exposition tenue Zagreb le 20 décembre 2001 au Gradec, Galerija Klovicevi dvori.

In order to approach the work of Mirna Krešic by words, we should choose the most direct way, the one leading to the rich structures of her painting material, to rhythmic and arrhythmic systems. In her constantly-changing painting the artist plays with differences between related phenomena. Although she has abandoned iconic and narrative references, Mirna Krešic does not disclaim scenes, events, coloristic dramas and lyricism, light, space, ductus Without a tellurium support and horizon, without the identification coordinates (without titles), she paints that which is deep, infinite immaterial; that which is moving, stirring, condensing and diluting, which is waning and disappearing, or is just being born. All that which exists without reliable, predictable and experience-based props, because we are facing the sensation of painting per se. And this painting does not cease to exist at its edges. It continues to exist simultaneously on all levels, suggesting expansion beyond its physical limits.

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In Mirna's paintings (in series and cycles) strokes and stains of color (as unit-particles) form layes that transform into a temporal weaving, building new dense and thinned relations, where light appears as the most important substance. In the absence of strong colors, light lives through vibrations of black and white, gray and blue stains. Within a single painting there will be spots where particles are "languid" and spots where light transforms them into a vibrating field, but they always remain within the character of painting.

The totality of her œuvre is ruled either by light or by darkness. As if we were witnessing the first day of genesis when light is separated from drakness and days is separated from night. These are the moments when light liberates colors and renders is movable and alive. Mirna Krešic uses stains of color to set the dynamics of her paintings. In the process, she cannot evade the valeur system, the overlapping, blending and complementarity of relations beween stains and matter.

A kind of an alchemic process of emergence and disppearance is unwending before our eyes in flickers and quivers, transparencies and density. In endless grayness, whiteness or yellowness, through thick layers of strokes (from left to right) flow the images of gently, "fluid" wavy configurations. In the middle, there is a sign a square (white, black) that strikes symmetry or stretches and turns into an illuminated, dimmed, blurred or "sunk" rectangle. Light is the strongest in the most lyrical of her works pieces that owe their transparency and lightness to the "vacillation" of her stroke in the horizontal, linear, as well as in the dynamic, rhythmic and simultaneous tonic weave.

Although it may appear as an exaggerated and inappropriate comparison, here we find a kinship with the flexible, gentle weaving of numerous artists and advocates of "poetic ambiance". For example, what is literal (gallery, room) space for Ivana Franke (to mention only one of them), is the surface of a painting (within the limits of its format) for Mirna Krešic. The flexion of nylon thread, beads, flakes made of Chinese paper, cotton fluff or suspended paraffin tablets arranged along a structural axis in Franke's work can be compared to the structure of stains, spots, dots, drips, chance and material quality in the painting of Mirna Krešic. The work of both artists, their changeability and the ability for transformation, internal dynamics, relationships between stains, rhythmical diffusion or density and saturation of grouping, exhibit a kind of reflection that they share. Declarations of similarity can only be justified if comparisons are not apodictically literal and hard.

Mirna's paintings reveal a kind of subtextual diversion of Mondrian's American experience, painting transmutations of Fontana's spatial concetta or spacial structures of S. Francis... Don't you think that Mirna's squares appear as a certain animated paraphrase of Malevitch-like hand-written supremacy of a square or Fautrier-like transcription of a material sign into sheer luminism? If we put these similes aside, we testify to the extraordinary ability of the artist to chose the methods and materials in keeping with the nature of her ductus and to articulate her world by defining its proportion and nature.

Mirna Krešic has an exceptional and uncommon power to produce new, wonderfully cultivated organisms by lexical mutation.