MSU Zagreb: Miroslav Šutej, Retrospective

Miroslav Šutej, Retrospective

06/29/2013 – 11/03/2013

Miroslav Šutej’s oeuvre is rich, variegated, versatile in terms of craft, playful, visually memorable, always aiming at some now experiment and examination of the possibilities of visual art expression. Critics have unanimously considered him an authentic innovator, a discoverer of new artistic possibilities, equally in the media of drawing, collage, objects, and ambiences.

The exhibition that comprises more than four hundred works attempts to encompass all phases of Šutej’s oeuvre. Many works will also be animated, e.g. collages and mobiles, showing the entire dynamics and joyfulness of this gigantic opus. Some of his thematic focuses will be shown separately, like anti-fashion or figures, the Auras cycle, inspired by Chinese art. For the first time the exhibition venue will comprise a children’s corner: Mini-Šutej including a workshop, interactive models inspired by Šutej’s works, and Toshiba tablets with animations and the feature for work search. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a rich educative program, lectures, and panel discussions.

This year's retrospective exhibition encompasses a nearly fifty year long series of the artist's differing thematic and media contemplations reflected in numerous cycles – from figurative student drawings and gouaches made in Duga Resa courtyards, created under the influence of surrealism and Picassoesque cubism, to abstract works in the combined technique of drawing and painting from the 1990’s that sum up his entire opus. Through this exhibition we wanted to present as many "different Šutejs" as we could, those that we have followed over the decades at smaller shows, which usually represented his latest works and which were to a great extent difficult to contextualize in his entire oeuvre. This exhibition gives us the opportunity to view not only his numerous thematic cycles for the first time, but also the cause-effect relationship that at a certain point led to the discovery of visual solutions, or a sudden departure from research and turning to something completely new and different.

We also wanted to present works that are important to the artist's path of development and the history of Croatian art of the late 20th century, and which the Croatian public did not have a chance to see – such as the Bombing of the Optic Nerve, the Rain and Identity ambiences (from the Graz Universalmuseum Joanneum, never exhibited in Croatia) – and to present those cycles that occurred simultaneously to global trends, such as ambience sketches and the Anti-fashion cycle created in the spirit of pop-art from the sixties, as well as those works that impress for their refined execution and impeccable aesthetics, and for which we simply have to say that they evoke a purely impartial appreciation. We tried to "capture" this elusive and silent individual who rarely talked about his work for several months, an artist who did not associate in groups or write manifestos, but on the contrary, resisted classification into any stylistic or theoretical departments, an author who through his achievements in the field of design entered into the sphere of everyday life that is most exposed to the public, but of whom we can today say that we do not know him well enough. Through a large number of exhibited items we wanted to show the structural wealth of Šutej’s works.

In her catalogue text Sonja Briski Uzelac concluded: “He was an artist who looked forward to discoveries he later analysed painstakingly, with cumulative experience, respectable persistence and passion, delving again and again, patiently but playfully, in the new exploratory adventures of the hand, eye and spirit.”

Curator: Snježana Pintarić
The exhibition is held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia, Ivo Josipović.

Painter, graphic artist and designer Miroslav Šutej was born in Duga Resa, Croatia. He attended the School of Applied Arts in Zagreb, and afterwards the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, taking his degree from the graphic class of Professor Marijan Detoni in 1961. He was an associate in Krsto Hegedušić's master's workshop (1961-1963), after which a French government scholarship took him to Paris in 1964/1965.

He has had independent exhibitions since 1962. He has put on about 200 one-man shows (Zagreb, Genoa, Hanau, Lausanne, Venice, Bremen, Cracow, Haarlem, Split, Bologna, New York, Trento, Soest, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, Cologne, Liège, Baden bei Wien, Frechen, Wildeshausen, Belgrade, Den Haag, Gelsenkirchen, Paris, Rijeka, Helsinki, Madrid, Moscow, Nyon, Berlin, Vicenza, Sarajevo, Brussels, Shanghai, Skopje, Rotterdam, Kreuzlingen, Šibenik, Klagenfurt, Mestre, Erlangen, Geneva, Bonn and elsewhere).

He has been taking part in collective exhibitions since 1960, and since 1963 at international print biennials in Ljubljana, Tokyo, Cracow, Bradford, Mulhouse, Frechen, Grenchen, Liège, Vancouver, Jyväskylä, Seoul, Yokohama, Zagreb and at drawing biennials in Rijeka, Wroclaw, Vienna, Zagreb and elsewhere.

He has obtained some sixty prizes and awards for his work. He was also engaged in television animation, scenography and design as well as interior design. Šutej designed the coat of arms and the flag of the Republic of Croatia, as well as the coat of arms and the flag of the President of the Republic of Croatia. Together with Šimun Šutej and Vilko Žiljko he designed the Croatian kuna banknotes.

Šutej was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and in Široki Brijeg and a regular member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU). He worked and lived both in Zagreb and in Kutina. Starting with 1968 he lived and worked for three months a year in Motovun, Istria, where the Foundation Miroslav Šutej was founded. The Gallery of the Foundation was opened to the public on December 19th, 2012.

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