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Exhibitions and Projects
Project | from November 2020 onwards

Mindfulness in the Gallery

Calm your mind by observing the works of art

During the time of various global responses to the pandemic, each individual reacts to the external changes in her or his own way, while we all try to calmly go through the current insecure phase of our lives. We looking for new challenges, gain new knowledge and skills, or we undergo an audit, refreshing external and internal spaces and look for hidden sources of strength. Whatever our pattern is, it always turns out to be good to be fully aware of the present moment. Observing works of art can be a suitable way to slow down our daily rhythm, relax our mind and to develop greater concentration. In the National Gallery of Slovenia, we were inspired by respected European and American galleries that have for decades facilitated mindfulness programmes and encouraged their visitors to use works of art to sharpen their focus and in this way enrich their experience of perceiving art.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way to train our ability to concentrate on the present moment. We can see it as a purposeful, judgement-free slowing down. Mindfulness enables us to connect with ourselves and the world around us and to fully experience what is happening. Mindfulness is made of directing our focus to either breathing, physical feelings in the body or one of the senses. Through mindfulness we strengthen our inner observer and eventually become aware of our thought processes.

Mindfulness in the Gallery

Mindfulness in the Gallery can be practiced by giving ourselves time to neutrally observe a work of art. Gallery mindfulness can be an incredibly useful tool to calm and soothe our (over)active mind.

While the Gallery is temporarily closed

Each week, we will post a work of art and advice on mindfulness on the Gallery website and social media accounts. We invite you to take five to ten minutes each day to slow down and observe a work of art from the Permanent Collection.

Some advice for mindfulness

Relax. Find a comfortable spot and allow yourself to relax while observing the picture. Calm and concentrate your mind on the painting. Be aware of your breathing. Breathe in a relaxed and usual rhythm and observe your breathing in and out. Loosen your body. While observing the picture, pay attention to sensations in the body. Are any parts of it tense? Focus on your back, shoulders, neck, jaws, eyes. Loosen and relax your body. Allow. Allow your thoughts to come and leave freely. When your mind starts to wander, gently redirect it back to the painting. Accept. Accept your surroundings and all the sounds or noises around you. Allow them to be part of your experience while observing the painting.

At the same time, try to direct your mind to the following questions. How are you feeling while observing the painting? What draws your attention in the picture? The artist’s brushstrokes, composition, light, shadow, colours, shapes, figures/objects, motif? What mood and atmosphere do you see in the painting? Why do you thing the artist made this picture?


Focus on the Essential

Massimo Campigli, Woman Raising Her Veil, 1941–1942 oil, canvas, 63 x 41 cm
  • Massimo Campigli, Woman Raising Her Veil (video)
    Massimo Campigli, Woman Raising Her Veil (video)

Massimo Campigli (Berlin, 1895 – Saint-Tropez, 1971)
Woman Raising Her Veil, 1941–1942
oil, canvas, 63 x 41 cm

A body of a young woman is emerging from a white surface; the girl is lying and resting on her right elbow, while using her other arm to remove a veil from her face, looking directly at us. The image in neutral, skin-white colour pallet is free of all details, except of a shining pearl necklace, which adorns the woman’s neck. The delicate fabric that wraps her body could pass for a dress of a bride and with its fair tones accentuates the timeless innocence, simplicity and sincerity.

Campigli looked for inspiration in the motifs of Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan art, which he merged with the Cubist style. These sources result in a tectonic composition, two-dimensionality and the figures inspired by Antiquity, together with colour and brushstrokes that are more typical of fresco painting, a technique Campigli used for some of his monumental commissions. Hence, this painting also consciously alludes to a fragmented archaeological find from the Antiquity, with layers peeled and intricacies lost, preserving within only - the essence.

Find Peace and Encouragement Within

Marko Pernhart Bled, 1854 oil, canvas, 52.5 x 79 cm
  • Marko Pernhart Bled, (video)
    Marko Pernhart Bled, (video)

Marko Pernhart (Srednje Medgorje pri Velikovcu, 1824 − Celovec, 1871)
Bled, 1854
oil, canvas, 52.5 x 79 cm

Peace and quiet true, reflecting deepest blue. One of the most popular places in Slovenia - Lake Bled with an island and a castle atop a steep rock face - is presented in supremely attractive vista: behind the mighty peaks of Vajnež, Stol, Vrtača and Begunjščica, white clouds hurry across the sky, while boats quietly move on the peaceful lake, whose calm surface reflects the surroundings. The entire scene is imbued with tranquillity of a warm, sunny day.

By depicting a sweet, unproblematic, and at the same time topographically consistent and realistically rendered landscape, Pernhart stayed close to the taste of a contemporary burgher; in the era of awakening national consciousness and enthusiasm of the nature’s beauty and magnificence, such tourist landscapes often decorated middle-class drawing rooms.

The Carinthian painter of Slovenian descend was also a dedicated mountaineer and traveller. With a sketching book on him, he was inspired by his journeys and alpine undertakings and made a number of landscape paintings that form the core of his outstanding body of work, which is made of more than one thousand pictures.

Let you be led by mercy

Franc Kavčič/Caucig, Semiramis Fed by the Doves (before 1810), oil, canvas, 103 x 164 cm
  • Franc Kavčič/Caucig, Semiramis Fed by the Doves (video)
    Franc Kavčič/Caucig, Semiramis Fed by the Doves (video)

Franc Kavčič/Caucig (Gorizia, 1755 – Vienna, 1828)
Semiramis Fed by Doves, (before 1810)
oil, canvas, 103 x 164 cm

Franc Kavčič depicted a story by Diodorus Siculus, who writes about the mythical origins of Babylonian Queen Semiramis and at the same time delivers a story full of hope that intertwines man with nature.

On the shores of a lake near Syrian Ascalon there was a sacred place of Goddess Derketo, who had the body of a human and the tail of a fish. She fell out of favour with Aphrodite, who took revenge by making Derketo enamoured with the handsome priest of her temple. They became parents to a baby girl, but the goddess was ashamed. She killed the priest and exposed the child to the elements and threw herself into a lake, turning into a fish. Near the place where the goddess left her daughter, doves were nesting and took care of the abandoned girl. They used their wings to keep her warm, brought her milk in their beaks and later on stole pieces of cheese from herdsmen. The herdsmen followed the birds and found the most beautiful child, took her with them and gave her to the chief of royal herds, who was childless. He named the girl Semiramis, which is Syriac for “doves”.

Trust the Good in the World

Mihael Stroj, God’s Care, 1842 oil, canvas, 30 x 41.3 cm
  • Mihael Stroj, God’s Care (video)
    Mihael Stroj, God’s Care (video)

Mihael Stroj (Ljubno, Radovljica, 1803 – Ljubljana, 1871)
God’s Care, 1842
oil, canvas 30 x 41.3 cm

The painter depicted an effortlessly levitating angel with a basket, who is feeding animals in a valley covered by a thick snow blanket. In the foreground, birds and rabbits are gathering, while at the outskirts of a spruce forest on the right see a deer approaching carefully. In the background, the view opens to the snow-covered roofs of village houses. The scene is painted with great care; thus, we can recognize most birds fed by the angel. Magpies descend towards the ground, while a golden oriole, a kingfisher and a goldfinch are pecking at grain together with a raven, a bullfinch, great tits, and a jay. The flock includes two grey partridges or maybe quails, while a small swallow sits on the rim of the basket. By depicting the rotting tree trunks in the foreground, the painter defined the picture space and left a small patch of snow to sign his name on it.

The motif and style of the picture are typical of Nazarene painting that strived to revive simplicity, modesty and spirituality of a true Christian art. In this spirit, the calming message of the painting quietly advises the viewers to open our hearts to our fellow man and all other creatures that share this world with us.

Broaden you horizon by taking a distant look

Matija Jama, View of Ljubljana Moor 1925, oil, canvas, 44 x 54,5 cm
  • Matija Jama, View of Ljubljana Moor (video)
    Matija Jama, View of Ljubljana Moor (video)

Matija Jama (Ljubljana, 1872–1947)
View of Ljubljana Moor, 1925
oil, canvas, 44 x 54.5 cm

In the painting, the view opens from Castle Hill and runs across the roofs of the city's houses along the Gruber Canal into the broad plain of the Ljubljana Moor, up to the slopes of distant Krim, which stands tall above the landscape. The transparent autumn light imbues the landscape cadre of small format, proving that the work was made directly outdoors. The Impressionists explored sunlight, the unstability of optical phenomena and the changing of the athmosphere conditions typical of different parts of day and the year, which meant that painting in nature in front of the motif was a basic precondition for the making of an Impressionist painting. Going even further, as Jama once said himself »... if we want to show a naturalistic winter, we have to be freezing ourselves, if we want that the emotion of the cold to pass on the viewer ...«

Matija Jama was the most travelled among the Slovenian Impressionists, travelling or biking in search of suitable motifs. His work and beliefs remained true to the Impressionist principles: » ... Only one rule is always in force: use the most simple means to get to something as grand and elemental as seen in nature ...«

Indulge in the blaze of Jakopič’s colours

Rihard Jakopič, Bathers, 1905 oil, canvas, 105,5 x 74,5 cm
  • Rihard Jakopič, Bathers (video)
    Rihard Jakopič, Bathers (video)

Rihard Jakopič (Ljubljana, 1869-1943)
Bathers, 1905
Oil, canvas, 105.5 x 74.5 cm

Rihard Jakopič, considered one of the pioneers of Slovenian Impressionism, introduced several new motifs to domestic art, the bathers being among them. He probably painted them even before 1900 and often repeated the motif. In his account, he designed the figures from memory, with the help of photographs and academic studies from his Munich years. Jakopič was not interested only in light penetrating the treetops and lighting up the bodies, but also in the warmth and energy of the sun that is radiating through the vegetation and invigorates the bodies. Through the whole series of Jakopič’s Bathers, we can feel the primal power of nature and the living dynamic of the bodies. All of this is expressed in the picture through the intensified colour contrasts (warm colours of the sun and the bodies versus cool colours of the vegetation and water) and commanding brushstrokes.

Let Metzinger's St Augustine move you from the mind into the heart

Valentin Metzinger, St Augustine, (c. 1741), oil, canvas, 102 x 102 cm
  • Valentin Metzinger, St Augustine (video)
    Valentin Metzinger, St Augustine (video)
Valentin Metzinger (Saint-Avold, 1699 – Ljubljana, 1759)
St Augustine, (c. 1741)
Oil, canvas, 102 x 102 cm 

»Inasmuch as love grows in you, in so much beauty grows; for love is itself the beauty of the soul.«
»Patience is the companion of wisdom.« 

In the picture, we see St Augustine (354−430), mystic, theologian, philosopher, great orator and writer. He was the greatest Doctor of the Church, bishop and teacher, who nevertheless believed in the supreme power of the heart – love; to this day, his thoughts are an inexhaustible treasure chest of wisdom. His most well-known works are De Civitate Dei (The City of God) and Confessiones (Confessions). 

St Augustine is depicted in the moment God was present and his writing was interrupted by profound inner excitement, which the painter depicted as the saint's flaming heart in his right hand. The Father's silent mouth and eyes pointed above are the only two other external signs of the intense inward experience. 

The painting comes from the chapel of the Črni potok castle, which Valentin Metzinger, an immigrant Baroque painter, decorated with four tondos of the Fathers of the Church, in addition to two ovals depicting St John Nepomucene and The Holy Family.

Embrace a new day with Aurora by Giovanni Andrea Carlone

Giovanni Andrea Carlone, Aurora, Dawn, (c. 1678), oil, canvas, 129 x 97.5 cm
  • Giovanni Andrea Carlone, Aurora, Dawn (video)
    Giovanni Andrea Carlone, Aurora, Dawn (video)
Giovanni Andrea Carlone (Genoa, 1639–1697), 
Aurora, Dawn, (c. 1678)
oil, canvas, 129 x 97.5 cm 

Flaxen-haired, slightly exposed young woman, seen springing up and towards us, is most likely an allegory of Aurora or Dawn. Her image is breaking away from the darkness of the night and she seems to radiate light as she soars above the earth, scattering flowers from her lap across it. Aurora's face is youthful and dewy, with an adorable look. She is accompanied by a putto with a torch – Phosphorus or the Morning Star is helping her chase away the darkness and bring forth the light. In the right corner below, a golden light is already spilling across the horizon of a dusky landscape, announcing the return of the Sun. 

In the picture, we are captivated by a masterful play of light and shadow and the harmony of colourful highlights with invigorating red flowers. Carlone worked in several Italian art centres and was influenced by different Baroque masters. In the picture, he emphasized the gracefulness and serenity on both faces, and at the same time animated the scene with cropped figures, dynamic diagonal composition and empathic gestures.

In sweet expectation of a child

Matej Sternen, Tončka Gaber, 1909, oil, canvas, 130 x 100 cm
  • Matej Sternen, Tončka Gaber (video)
    Matej Sternen, Tončka Gaber (video)
Matej Sternen (Verd, 1870 – Ljubljana, 1949)
Tončka Gaber, 1909
oil, canvas, 130 x 100 cm  

The elegant lady, sitting in a comfortable armchair, nearly blends with the burgher interior background. The figure and the space are harmonious in the colours of warm shades of a yellow-golden-brown palette. Although the painting emphasizes the tangible nature of objects and the figure, we see how realistic details are vanishing, leaving on the canvass only a colour essence of a familiar atmosphere and inner longings of the young woman.  

Painter Matej Sternen, among the four Slovenian Impressionists most dedicated to figure painting, greatly emphasized the drawing, but still believed that it was colour that gave life to the painting. The woman in the picture is Tončka Gaber, the wife of the artist’s close and life-long friend Ante Gaber. According to family lore, Tončka was pregnant while the picture was in the making and since the portrait took longer than expected, a housemaid posed in Tončka’s clothes, since Tončka could not bear sitting still for the painter for hours on end.  

Portrait of Tončka Gaber was the painters’ wedding-gift to the couple. Apparently, there were requests to sell the picture to Vienna, but Ante Gaber was emotionally attached to the painting and did not want to part with it, which is also a sign of the respect towards Sternen and their friendship. 

Allow Yourself to Feel

Anton Karinger, Mountain Lake (Lago di Fusine), 1864
  • Anton Karinger, Mountain Lake (Lago di Fusine) (video)
    Anton Karinger, Mountain Lake (Lago di Fusine) (video)

Anton Karinger (Ljubljana, 1829–1870)
Mountain Lake (Lago di Fusine), 1864

On a lake high in the mountains, the wind is moving from one side to the other, in some places revealing and in others obscuring the view of the nearby peaks. Near the shore, the surface of the lake slightly undulates, while in the quite corner on the left a wooden boat rocks on the water. From the rocks in the centre of the picture birds are descending and circling above the lake. The tension before the storm is accentuated by the sharp contrast between the highlighted and the shadowy parts of the landscape. The atmosphere of electrified air mirrors the mood and emotions of man; the painter’s wonder before an overwhelming grand scene is re-lived by the viewers.

Immediate source material for the oil painting was a watercolour scene of the lake from the same view, only that the work on paper is lighter, with a rainbow across the sky. Both versions depict one of the lakes below Mangart in the immediate vicinity of the tripoint of Italy, Austria and Slovenia.

Anton Karinger dedicated himself to painting only in the last decade of his life, after he retired from the military. He is considered one of the Romantic landscape painters and also had a great sense for the inner world of his contemporaries and was recognized as an excellent portraitist.

Delve into the golden moments of parenthood with Bergant's St Joseph

Fortunat Bergant, St Joseph, 1763
  • Fortunat Bergant, St Joseph (video)
    Fortunat Bergant, St Joseph (video)

Fortunat Bergant (Mekinje near Kamnik, 1721 – Ljubljana, 1769): St Joseph, 1763
oil, canvas, 78 x 63 cm

Highlighted body of small Jesus in a dramatic pose stands out from the dark background, with its kind look directed at us. The naked Child covered with white drapery is pointing his little hand to a blooming lilly, the atribute of St Joseph and a symbol of purity. Also notable is his left sole, turned towards the viewer. To the left of it we see the child's and the parent's hands touching, giving the picture its central emotional emphasis. The direct connection of phyical shelter is enhanced by the love and grace seen in the face of the curly-haired stepfather. While we cannot see Joseph's eyes, we can feel complete parental devoion and love in his smile. This is the purity that allowed Joseph to take care of the Divine child.

Fortunat Bergant was among the most crucial artists of Baroque in Slovenian lands. This year we commemorate the 300th anniversary of Bergant's birth, so the Gallery is dedicating a monographic exhibition to him.

In the Shelter of the Shepherd's pronounced gratefulness to life

Ivan Grohar, The Shepherd, (1910)
  • Ivan Grohar, The Shepherd (video)
    Ivan Grohar, The Shepherd (video)
Ivan Grohar (1867 – 1911), The Shepherd, (1910)
oil, canvas, 73.5 x 85.5 cm
Musem of Modern Art, Ljubljana

The painting is regarded as Grohar's last painting and is supposedly unfinished. This gives the picture an additional symbolic meaning besides the traditional motif of the Good Shepherd, reminding us of the finality of our time on Earth and reaching into the sphere of spirituality. The figure of the attentive shepherd is anchored in the centre and highlighted from behind by an unseen source above. Sheep are flocking around him and as a concentrated mass at the same time grow into the unity of the creation between earth and sky. The painter rendered visible the elementary power of nature, felt in select colour transitions and dynamic moves of the palette knife, which hint at the presence and eternity of the essential. Grohar's picture easily pulls us in a sort of meditation, where tangible, yet changeable outer materiality transitions into a focused inner vision. Ivan Grohar was one of the four Slovenian Impressionists. His works are characterized by symbolism, with the Shepherd being the most obvious example, refined colours and skilful palette knife technique.

Lean on your Inherent Power

Master of Mače: St Christopher, Church of St Nicholas, Mače, Preddvor, 1467, copy 1961 (Izidor Molè)
  • Master of Mače, St Christopher (video)
    Master of Mače, St Christopher (video)
Master of Mače: St Christopher, Church of St Nicholas, Mače, Preddvor, 1467, copy 1961 (Izidor Molè)
tempera, canvas, 258 x 158 cm

The beautifully lively and colourful picture shows St Christopher, a popular saint. According to legends, his true name was Reprobus, he grew into a giant and was searching for the most powerful ruler in the world to enter his service. A hermit commanded him to use his strong body to carry people across the nearby river and one day he helped a small child across the water. When they were in the middle of the river, the burden grew heavier and heavier, and on the other side the child revealed himself as Christ and christened Reprobus Christopher (Christoforos), which is Greek for Christ-carrier. St Christopher became a patron protecting against sudden death. People grew to believe that it suffices to look at the saint's image early in the morning to avoid dying suddenly that day. During the Middle Ages, this belief led to his monumental likeness being painted on the outer walls of churches. In our painting, the giant's face turns to the viewer and we see the moment the child's weigh becomes unbearable, making Christopher lean on his walking stick, which is actually an uprooted tree. The piece is a copy of the medieval fresco from the succursal church of St Nicholas at Mače near Preddvor and presents one of the most frequent motifs of Gothic painting in Slovenia.

Bravely walk into the unknown

Zoran Mušič, Little Horses (Cavallini), (1949)
  • Zoran Mušič, Little Horses(Cavallini) (video)
    Zoran Mušič, Little Horses(Cavallini) (video)

Zoran Mušič (Bukovica near Gorizia, 1909 – Venice, 2005)
Little Horses (Cavallini), (1949)
colour lithography, paper, P. 362 x 503 mm, L. 560 x 754 mm

Stylized little horses hoof in a small group across an unidentifiable landscape with grace and seemingly carefree, their rhythm lively and uniform. Bowing in the distance behind them is a hill in basic form, whose yellow colour radiates like a setting sun.  The outline of the bow repeats itself in the parasols hoovering above the silhouettes of the riders.

The horses, whose later multitudinous iterations became one of Mušič’s most recognizable motifs, reminded the painter of his childhood and youth, where his mind often returned to in the first decades after the end of the Second World War. Memories of lines of costermongers travelling across a desolate and sun-burnt Karst landscape crisscrossed with drywalls offered a safe haven after the indescribable experience of the concentration camp and also first steps towards a renewed humanity on its way to an unknown, yet better future.

Let the roses of Marija Auersperg Attems lead you to find the beauty in yourself

Marija Auersperg Attems, Roses
  • Marija Auersperg Attems, Roses (video)
    Marija Auersperg Attems, Roses (video)

Marija Auersperg Attems (Graz, 1816–1880)
oil, wood, 39.5 x 31.5 cm

On the table before us proudly stands an exquisite bouquet of old sorts of roses in different colours and tones, which were an integral part of contemporary garden. One of the flowers is lying in front of the vase and on it, we notice a beetle of metal green colour - a rose chafer, whose diet also includes rose blossoms. The small intruder unintentionally marred and desecrated the untouchable beauty of flowers, his presence being a quiet and natural reminder that outer beauty - like life itself - is momentary and fading; one can only search for eternity in the beauty of the soul.

Flower still lifes of Marija Auersperg Attems showcase veristic floral sorts, vivid colours and the painter’s considerable drawing skills. These motifs, like the works by other home-trained women painters, were a popular addition to contemporary burgher or noble home.

Coordination: Živa Rogelj
Text: Kristina Preininger, Nataša Braunsberger
Video: Luka Hribar, Sabina Rotter
From November 2020 onwards
National Gallery of Slovenia
Puharjeva 9
1000 Ljubljana