Lauba Gallery, Zagreb: BOYS: IN SEARCH OF THE ABSOLUTE

Tomaž Pandur

BOYS: IN SEARCH OF THE ABSOLUTE

6.06 – 1.09.2013

This June, Lauba will celebrate its second birthday. The celebration will be held in the same manner in which Lauba lives – as a place of fun, interaction and cooperation. It will host PANDUR.THEATERS and their projects combining performance and visual arts.

An exhibition of paintings from Tomaž Pandur's own undiscovered body of work will be set up for the visitors' enjoyment. This same space will hold the rehearsals for the new play Michelangelo, produced by the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, which will premiere at the Mittelfest festival in Italy on 12 July 2013. Every day, a dozen actors will occupy our space (the protagonist is embodied by Livio Badurina). And after the rehearsals in the exhibition space, you can see the arresting scenography, signed, as usual, by Numen/For Use.

"I live in hell and paint its pictures."

PROGRAM / 6 June – 1 September 2013

Painting exhibition, Tomaž Pandur / Boys / 6 June – 1 September 2013

Video installation, Dorijan Kolundžija / Galerija 12 / For Pandur Theaters, Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and Dubrovnik Summer Festival: Medea / 6 June – 1 September 2013

Scenography installation, Sven Jonke / Numen/For Use / for Pandur Theaters, Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and Mittelfest (Italy): Michelangelo / 6 – 13 June 2013

Rehearsals for the play Michelangelo, open to the public / 6—13 June 2013

The journey into the world of Tomaž Pandur in Lauba will be continued through the rehearsals for the new play Michelangelo, coproduced by the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, Pandur.Theaters and Mittelfest.
You're wondering how?
Rehearsals for the play will be held in Lauba every day, so follow us because some of them will be open to the public. If you happen to miss the rehearsals, come visit us during our working hours and see the scenographic object produced by Sven Jonke from the studio Numen/ For Use. Until 14 June, Lauba will be a playground in the full sense of the word – just like the inscription on our front door says. After this, the play will travel to Mittelfest in Udine, and we wish them the best of luck.

THE PLAY MICHELANGELO:

Five-hundred hundred years after Michelangelo – Il Divino finished the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting, the cornerstone work of High Renaissance art with nine scenes from the Book of Genesis and a large fresco depicting The Last Judgement on the sanctuary wall,  theater director Tomaz Pandur's upcoming project deals with the introspection of the artist, sculptor, poet, architect and painter, his journey into the matrix of unconsciousness, following the shadows of his vision. Based on the play by famous Croatian writer Miroslav Krleža from 1919, Tomaz Pandur directs a stage poem centered around his tormented personality which embodies the interior conflicts, paradoxes, and problems of the High Renaissance. A poem about stretching the limits of the Classical form to their extreme, and art which evolves in new directions. A stage poem centered around the dramatic reinterpretation of Michelangelo's High Renaissance ideals, a renewed interest in science and technology, and a conflicted, multi-layered emphasis on human emotion and passion. Pandur creates a Theater of Michelangelo Buonaroti, father and master of all the arts, the theater of a man whose name has become synonymous with the word "masterpiece''. A theater of an unparalleled artist, the creator of works of sublime beauty that express the full breadth of the human condition. A theater of a man who painted with his brains and not with his hands.

PANDUR THEATERS: An international theatrical organization which was founded in 2002 by director Tomaž Pandur and playwright Livija Pandur. Pandur Theaters coproduces plays with numerous other theaters, combines different forms of artistic expression into a unique stage language and brings together artists from different parts of the world, thus creating an innovative vision of theatre in the 21st century.

MITTELFEST: An Italian festival dedicated to literature, music and dance, founded in 1991 with the purpose of creating cultural connections within the region of Central Europe and the countries within the geopolitical frame of the Central European Initiative (CEI), an organization which includes Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Ukraine. This year's Mittelfest is dedicated to Croatian art and culture in honor of Croatia's accession into the European Union. The play Michelangelo will open the festival on 12 July.

EXHIBITION BOYS: IN SEARCH OF THE ABSOLUTE

The question that poses itself before Tomaž Pandur’s paintings comes down to one thing: how and where they come into contact with his theatre.

The series of 30 paintings that is being presented to the public for the first time does not hide its references to the theatre, so one can freely say that most of these paintings are largely an extension of the story most wholly told in the play Medea (2012). The play is a live, pulsing tissue that takes place in time. The painting, however, is static where movement and time has stopped, voice and any other sound has been silenced – and it may seem to lack depth.

But there are other, perhaps not so obvious links between Pandur’s theatre and these paintings, and they are precisely what I see as important. First it must be said that the paintings can be divided into three units that differ on more than just the formal level.

One such unit is made up of portraits of boys floating through a dark expanse penetrated by light coming from an unknown source. The second unit also consists of floating boys’ bodies, but on a white surface of an indeterminable depth, while the third and final segment of the exhibition consists of paintings similar to blackboards with numbers, then names, written on them – words with a crumbled syntax from which fragments of Caravaggio’s paintings emerge and function here as quotes.

The similarities between the play Medea, or, more precisely, between the scenes from Dorijan Kolundžija’s video-installation, and the exhibited paintings are much more important on the dramaturgical level than in the fact that in both cases the same characters appear, with the same fitful movements immersed in the same nameless magma.

Just as the play – and Pandur’s theatre in general – is devoid of linear narration, a predictable continuity of the story, so too do his paintings demonstrate the same tendency. In both cases we follow the assembly and disassembly of fragments, a dual process which shapes the narrative unity from shards, leaving the viewer to form a unity on their own. Even though the paintings are dominated by the figures in them, there is nothing narrative about them.

The figures, floating through a nameless expanse, affirm absolute freedom.

Their movement is devoid of all external resistance, the depth through which they float is a sign of absence, and their very movement appears to lead to a point of disappearance. The paintings depict bodies in motion and this motion is the paintings’ only content, surrounded by nothingness and silence. Everything happens within the body and it becomes the only source of movement. The bodies are often depicted as thrashing convulsively, in a painful conquest of space/place that seems to be constantly slipping away. It is elusive since it is undefined, it glides and leads towards chaos. The scenes from Pandur’s paintings do not belong to the real world; one might sooner say that they stem from dreams and hallucinations.

Just as he does not aim to depict outer reality as a compact unit in his plays, but rather build a nothingness from it which appears to us from the fragments, an apparition that appears like a flash, so too do Pandur’s paintings function in the same way.

I mentioned that the exhibition contains three clearly visible units, three segments set up not only in linear continuity, but in such a way that we read them as we move through this labyrinth.

The final, third part is made up of black surfaces reminiscent of boards with crumbled words written on them in chalk, followed by numbers, and the names of various people and places and bits of other paintings. At the end of the labyrinth the exhibition ends in complete chaos, a chaos that leads into nothingness.

When writing about the paintings of Francis Bacon, Gilles Deleuze compares them with Samuel Beckett at one point. Tomaž Pandur’s paintings in some aspects can remind us of Bacon’s convulsing figures which disintegrate on the background like dead organic matter.

The final sequence of Tomaž Pandur’s paintings reminds me of a comment by Samuel Beckett in which he talks about his novel L’Innommable (1953) and says: ‘‘…At the end of my work there’s nothing but dust (…) there’s complete disintegration. No ‘‘I’’, no “have”, no “being.” No nominative, no accusative, no verb. There’s no way to go on.’’

There remains only the void. Silence. A curtain which falls and covers the space behind it, the space of a finished play or a story, or a sequence of paintings, but certainly a space of complete freedom.

(Zvonko Maković)

TOMAŽ PANDUR is a world-famous director who graduated in directing in Ljubljana in 1989. His first play, Seherezade, earned him numerous prizes, and he soon became internationally well-known and acclaimed. When he was 26, he became the director of Drama in the Slovenian national theatre in Maribor, which he was in charge of for seven years. He revolutionized both the approach and the way of working with actors by offering his exceptional visual impression and combining different types of art. Blending various forms of artistic expression into a unique stage language, each of director Tomaž Pandur's projects creates multi-cultural and multilingual theatre platforms which connect, inspire, awaken and transform, open the channels for the currents of new mental and emotional patterns.

The creative process of staging a performance becomes a research laboratory where the fundamental theatrical expressions and their chemical reactions are discovered and studied. Pandur searched for the quintessence of his theatre in the territory of the unspoken and the unspeakable, in the mysterious, convinced that the deepest layers of man’s emotional substance, his thinking and remembering emerge in the process of creative transmission, always close to the very edge and without holding back, through deconstruction and new synthesis.

He lives and works in New York, Berlin and Madrid, where he was awarded the Order of Isabella II. by the King of Spain in 2011. His plays have travelled through many countries, from Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela to Korea, Russia, France, Austria, Germany, Italy and Denmark. He is the co-founder and artistic director of the international theatre organization Pandur Theaters.
 Faust, Hamlet, La Divina Comedia, Tesla Electric Company, Medea and War and Peace are just some of the theater's many international productions.

www.lauba.hr

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