Curator: Leila Mehulić
Text written by: Tonko Maroević
Designers: Nika Pavlinek and Aleksandar Kovač
Radnička Gallery, 4 March 2014 — 24 March 2014
Exhibition funded by Marijan Hanžeković
Almost two decades after the making of an extremely successful series of paintings, Zlatan Vrkljan decided to display them in entirety in the place of his activity and before the audience who has been following his seemingly sinuous but in fact uncommonly coherent path. (...) the cycle before us intersects and generates ‘figurative’ and ‘abstract’ constituents of the work. Better said, in every frame the painter starts off from a very specific visual attraction, a concrete objective stimulus, and then in the analysis and elaboration uses his expressive means to achieve autonomous, specific voluminous tightness of linear and chromatic elements. We will not exaggerate much if we say that – despite the frequent rational and mental starting point and even programmatic traits in certain aspects – Zlatan Vrkljan is permanently obsessed with the range of mimesis and physis of the painted surface. I dare define the mentioned cycle as generic, characterise it as ‘atmospheric landscape’. I ground this opinion upon the fact that most works were made directly in the landscape, before the motif, or was at least depicted immediately after the experienced small annotations. I abuse the fact that the titles of certain works undoubtedly refer to their starting point in the natural ambience or natural element (Kuti on the one hand, Rain and Thunder on the other). Therefore, the impulse was evidently landscape- and atmosphere-related, even though the outcome was not impressionist or neo-romantic, crepuscularly painful, but constructively bitter and structurally chained. (...)
Writing about the first exhibition of this cycle in 1996, critic Vladimir Maleković entitled his foreword A Painter in the Landscape. I, of course, agree that Zlatan Vrkljan went out into the landscape and fixed his views on certain natural elements and in concrete landscape. But it seems even more appropriate to speak of A Painter in His Element, of a painter in a tight embrace with ‘immeasurable’ forces, of a painter with an ambition to register the significant qualities of the four mythical elements: fire and water, air and earth, of a painter who measured his position in this world with coordinates of light and shadow, flow and standstill, existence and nothingness. In a nutshell, a painter in his element uses his own means to seek and find the reasons for the non-indifferent views of the visible and the invisible.