Mario Kolarić

7 / 11 / 2019 - 14 / 01 / 2019

The drawings in front of you bring up the old dualism of the rational and irrational that has forever been present in art criticism and theory, and still not completely overcome. Twenty-century-long art of the avant-garde and of the latter neo- avant-garde and abstract expressionism after 1945 show that artists deal with this dualism using specific approach to the creative process, treatment of medium and material, and concept of art piece in general. Starting from the Bauhaus art revolution and Mondrian’s neo-plasticism, to constructivism in Russia, and the circle around Van Doesburg, we have recognized holistic approach to art. Artwork is never an isolated product; it is inevitably part of a greater whole, a testimony of processual nature of creating and sublimation of irrational drives and rational analysis.

Mario Kolarić uses the legacy of the avant-garde approach: each of his drawings can endlessly expand to another drawing, to gallery walls or its architecture, or even, similar to Mondrian’s understanding, to Cosmos. In his approach to drawing, he decomposes the dualistic perception of a painting: the rational and irrational, in this case, become part of the same mental and spiritual creative process. Although every line seems to be drawn with absolute, almost mechanical, precision, and every element analytically calculated so that it geometrically fits the whole, by closer observation, we are able to see the trace of the work by hand, the ancient sign of artist’s presence – a fingerprint. The meditative nature of the creative process is also revealed. We are immediately spurred to think of the neo-avant-garde artists, whose interest in Zen Buddhism largely shapes the postmodern and contemporary art movements. If we take time to attentively look at Mario’s drawings which, at first sight, emanate melody and lightness, we will be reminded, not only of the mental, but also, the often forgotten,corporal strain of creative process.  Precision and repetitiveness of Mario’s lines and eagerness to finish the drawing remind us of Cage’s remark: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” By drawing every line accurately, slowly and carefully, Mario accentuates the significance of focus, presence in the moment, the corporal aspect of  creating and its subjective side. This subjective strength of the personal imprint is only seemingly in contrast to the grid – the web as a formula for keeping the balance between the elements and reinforcing the structure of the composition by creating the “membrane that releases sound”. Concepts often used when describing Mario’s drawings, such as sound, harmony, rhythm, resonance, melody, vibration – all belonging to the world of music – point to the close connection between visual art and music in his work. In that context, we may perceive the lines as musical notes which, as carefully composed, simple elements, together create a more complex sound image. Mario uses the tradition of minimalist art which, by serial repetition of elements, composes a rhythmical entity. In Mario’s compositions, the relation between fullness and emptiness plays a rather important role. Far from being simply the relation between the painted and unpainted, the fullness and emptiness are visual elements that equally participate in the composition of the whole. Such relation is also analogous to music and the role of pause and, especially in the more experimental post-Cage music, the role of silence as a means of expression. Sol Le Witt described conceptual artists as “mystics more than rationalists”, perhaps because of the importance of spiritual aspect of creating. Mario’s drawings are the product of both artist mystic and artist rationalist. In his drawings he searches for the harmony of relations between visual elements, the corresponding rhythm and melody of the whole composition, and resonance made in coactions of all the elements of the whole. Tradition of constructivism noticeable in precise composition, together with Gestalt approach of structuralism, present in the relations between parts and the whole, is made more playful by the artist’s approach to colour. In the eyes of the viewer, the colour applied in thin lines resonates with almost sonic impression of the rhythm. To explore this resonance, Mario never uses too many elements – colours and tones are explored though line and composition, whereas the narrative soon ceases to be the subject of his interest. Abstract drawings have no intention of evoking symbolic associations or telling about the emotional nature of the artwork: their interest is aimed at questioning the development of form in the creative process. The time dimension, as well as the possibility of spontaneity during the creative process, point to the fact that contemporary art has not forsaken artistic problems of the 20 th century yet. Colour plays a great role in creation of the rhythm, just like the artist Joseph Albers demonstrated in his paintings, saying that he “relies on resonance all the time”, referring to the resonance two colours create in their coaction. Even in his early drawings, Mario revealed similarity between his poetics and music; looking at the drawings from the series Vista one cannot but hear a piano jazz improvisation. The artist himself insists that drawing is a kind of record. These visual, musical, and, in some way even linguistic notes, also have a character of a diary. The drawings in this exhibition, like earlier Mario’s works — for example those from the Diary Fragments series — emphasize drawing’s nature to be seen as a sketch, a visual experiment, but also a means for personal visual records. Finally, the character of a record serves to show that the creative process cannot be defined simply by its beginning, end and the final result, or as expected today – a product, but the aim of creating is, just like the path to epiphany in Zen Buddhism, the very effort/work with both its irrational and rational aspects, physical and mental strains, and, also rare, but precious, euphoria of epiphany.

Ana Simona Zelenović