Sculptor by vocation and training, and multimedia artist in his work, Loren Živković Kuljiš confirms with each new exhibition the consistency of his long-standing position: “I want my sculptures to be part of the flow. If I were to repeat myself, they would drown in the river.” Although this statement refers exclusively to sculpture (as it is related to his 2001 sculpture exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts), it reflects the artist’s approach to artistic practice as a whole. His preoccupation with producing three-dimensional forms and objects in different materials does not exclude his dedication to drawing, photography, and even hybrid film. Continuous insistence on creating fresh content also implies long-term elaboration of a certain idea, which connects the different realizations like a weft, whereby they often intertwine and complement the artist’s media-specific and conceptual approach. All this is preceded by a complex reflection that is finally transposed into a semantically multi-layered work, the decoding of which presupposes a simultaneous engagement of the observer’s visual and cognitive apparatuses. Loren is particularly interested in processuality in the creation of a work of art, that is, the process of transforming an idea into an object with artistic features. Such preoccupations are also reflected in his exhibition Return the Gift. The title refers to a song performed by Gang of Four, a band that the artist “still holds very dear. Apart from being a quote and having an imperative form in English, what I find important considers time, past and present, and one could say future as well.”

The exhibition consists of Something for Something and the Retrospectif, two recent works that combine the artist’s drawing, sculptural, and conceptual affinities. Retrospectif is an installation consisting of a plastic clay container and its extracted content, meanwhile dried in the form of a cylinder, and several lumps of dry clay lined up between them. It was conceived so as to partially leave the consecrated, institutionalized gallery space and enter the profane space of St John’s Square in Jelsa or the atrium of the Museum of Fine Arts, extending from the empty container in the exhibition area to the clay cylinder in the open. The artist titled the installation with a non-existent word because he associates it with some kind of a time machine that deals with the past, alluding to the full circle of creating the artwork. Although the installation elements are ordered in a logical time sequence, suggesting the course of its creation, this presents a formal paradox, as the work was completed at the very beginning by taking an imprint (positive) of the inside of the container (negative) by means of its content.

Aware of its ephemerality, Loren particularly appreciates clay, which is not often the case with sculptors. Usually it is treated only as a necessary means leading towards working in some other, final material. For our artist, however, the clay cylinder in his Retrospectif represents a “treasure chest” whose value must be deciphered and is only hinted at by the engraved symbol/letter “X” on the top, with which the author identifies himself. It has been his pseudonym ever since the exhibition Model, Model... and the Lost Levels at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb in 2021, and is his humorous reaction to the linguistic complications his surname creates when it comes to global recognition.

Loren’s exploration of the process and way of visualizing artistic language “as the origin of possible associations” is reflected in a series of exquisite charcoal drawings on paper with the unique title Something for Something. Common to all is the depiction of a sphere on a whitish surface, while the backgrounds are articulated with various abstract forms. The sphere as a theme or element of artwork/s was also present at the aforementioned exhibition in Zagreb. Conceptually closest to Loren’s recent work is Model, model..., a series of eighteen drawings from 2019 in which “the motif is (...) a sphere from which various forms evolve in the background while it is ‘thinking’ about them.” And “the forms (...) it is thinking about (are) the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder, to which, according to Paul Cézanne, all nature can be reduced.” And while Model, model... is a rounded, completed work, the artist considers Something for Something as an open-ended work “without a linear script or ending.” The sphere as an idea of ​​a perfect shape that is impossible to form ideally is also here the flywheel of all drawings, the difference being in chance as an important link in each individual realization. During the long process of creation, the artist discerns abstract forms in the background and elaborates them. “Processuality and incompleteness leave the work open for an active role played by the observer or reader. That tendency has also given the work its title: Something for Something.”

Loren Živković Kuljiš (b. 1973 in Split) graduated in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1997, in the class of Prof Stipe Sikirica. He was an artist in residence in San Francisco in 2000, and held lectures to students at The California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) and at UC Berkeley. Since 2007, he has been teaching at the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Split. He has presented his work at some twenty solo and a number of group exhibitions in Croatia and abroad. He is the author of the monument to Tonči Petrasov Marović at Sustipan in Split (2019). He won the Third Prize (with Ana Šverko) in the Competition for the Monument to Jakov Gotovac in Split (2009) and the Third Prize (with Ana Šverko) in the Competition for the Statue in the Entrance Hall of the Faculty of Economics in Split (2004). He has won several professional awards, including one of the three equivalent awards at the 7th Triennial of Croatian Sculpture (2000) and one of the three equivalent awards at the 38th Split Salon (2013). His artworks are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Split and the Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb.