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Exhibitions and Projects
17 September 2009–21 November 2009

Marjan Pogačnik

in the Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners

From the circle of the Prešeren Award winners, the Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners this time presents Marjan Pogačnik. The sixty-eight prints from the collection of the museums of Kranj and the National Gallery of Slovenia represent the development in Pogačnik’s oeuvre, from his initial woodcuts to his last prints executed in embossed colour etching. The presentation of the oeuvre is introduced by the demonstration of Pogačnik’s creative process and the technical distinction of printmaking. The exhibition is accompanied by a video.

Marjan Pogačnik was an exceptional artist and an extraordinary person. Throughout, his life was connected to art and its institutions. As a young man he used to come to the National Gallery of Slovenia, where his uncle Ivan Zorman was director. With eyes and ears open wide he listened to Monsignor Viktor Steska on his Sunday tours around the gallery’s collections. He met the ambitious and diverse generation of the Neodvisni (The Independents) and used their models to serve his own drawing talent. He received his first degree during the Second World War under the mentorship of France Stele, in the subject of Art History therefore, whereas he pursued the second among the first generation of students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. Once he had graduated under the mentorship of Gabrijel Stupica, he suddenly put down his brushes and stepped over to the printing press.

He etched the zinc plate like no one before him, and produced his colour prints in such a way that no one else will be able to produce them after him. He gave us printmaking that stands out in the local arena and is distinct from a global perspective. It has found its way into the anthologies of printmaking of the twentieth century and into some of the world’s greatest printmaking collections because of its technical exceptionality and the expressive power of its poetic visual language. If I use the syntagm of visual language, I am actually thinking it in its literal meaning. At least it seems as if Pogačnik, with his broad repertoire of pictograms, tried to tell stories of his impressions, sentiments, incidences, experiences from his intimate world, into which only few were allowed to peek.

Each print has its own story, each one is subtitled with a poetic title, and we are lucky that this language is in itself not obvious and comprehensible so as to be read as a kind of linear syntactically ordered prose. It functions as poetry, lyrical poetry in its most monosyllabic form, and is therefore experienced anew and differently every time, and with each new gaze it is full, saturated, rich, moving, playful or serious, sweet or tart, dignified in its elegant black and white contrast in the embossed print, or boisterous in its saturated colours, and dreamy in its gentle tones that can withhold almost no contrast. Here can we find the reason for its popularity among the most diverse audiences, and for the favourable responses of such exceptional connoisseurs and lovers of art as Federico Zeri.

Marjan Pogačnik literally lived in his prints. That small world which was nevertheless the whole world at Teslova 2 in Ljubljana's district of Mirje, surrounded by the high walls of the neighbouring houses and gardens, would look like one of his prints if one were to take the bird’s eye view. Small and rich, it was full of tiny autochthon flowers, shrubs and other plants among the birches and spruces. The house was full of artworks of all times, products of folk craft and art, with collections of folk ceramics, figurines and the most diverse souvenirs.

Marjan Pogačnik rarely left his world, his home. The WORLD came to him and sometimes left happily with one of his prints, when they decided with his wife Bogica that the visitor would make a worthy owner of his work. Not his, their work, since without Bogica perhaps not one print would have seen the light of the world and we would not know Pogačnik's unusual, exceptional embossed colour etchings as a technique today. The artistic printing process has always been the fruit of collective work, and this is particularly true for Pogačnik’s printmaking. Pogačnik’s art was not merely alchemy, but the alchemy could work because of the pharmacy – the pharmaceutical precision in preparing the plates, arranging colour compositions, applying colour, and particularly the prescriptions: the precise evidence of colour samples, consecutive order of procedures, and instructions that enabled repeated impressions after a longer period of time. It would not be far from the truth if we were to talk of the printmaking of Marjan and Bogica Pogačnik.

As the artists, so the human beings. They assigned their world to the people. They divided the contents of their villa among public institutions, from the National Gallery of Slovenia and the National and Ethnographic Museum, to the National and University Library and the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Among these there is also the Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners in Kranj. With this exhibition the Museum of Gorenjska and the National Gallery of Slovenia are implementing the will of Marjan and Bogica Pogačnik: to present to the public their world, which they spent their whole lives creating and nurturing, in order to be enjoyed.

Andrej Smrekar

Project organisers
Museum of Gorenjska, Kranj Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners, National Gallery of Slovenia

Author of the exhibition and installation up
Andrej Smrekar, National Gallery of Slovenia

Catalogue editor
Marija Šubic

Project leader
Marko Arnež, Kranj Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners

Graphic design
Marko Tušek

Conservation and restoration
Tina Buh, National Gallery of Slovenia

Milan Leban

Sources of objects in the exhibition
Museum of Gorenjska, Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners, National Gallery of Slovenia
The exhibition was supported by:
Kranj Municipality, Gorenjska banka, Miha Trampuž

17 September 2009–21 November 2009
Kranj Gallery of the Prešeren Award Winners
Glavni trg 18
4000 Kranj