„ …looking for a place under the Sun, cathedrals, gods, the eternal Icarus in ourselves and in our existence of today, marking the memory. “ (Milena Lah, 1977)
In Milena Lah's rich oeuvre (1920 – 2003) - which summarises all experiences of modern sculpture, from Socialist Realism, Abstraction and high Modernism to the announcement and full realisation of Post-modernist openness towards individual poetics – an unexpected motif, head of a child, first appeared executed in gypsum in 1967 in the cycle Shape of Experience after the Fall of Icarus, and it was presented to the public in 1973. This unique blend of figuration and abstraction, the motif of an androgynous head from which various forms expand, reaches its classic twilight in the cycle Times of Our Remembrance in Marble and Bronze (1974 - 1978) through amalgamation of bronze heads with white and purple marble blocks suggesting their bodies. The final variation in The Circle of Icarus (1978 – 1982), with its combination of prefabricated crystal heads (whose physiognomies the artist finished by hand) with abstract, multicoloured marble forms, finally closes the circle and realises the central theme of the artist’s titanic oeuvre: emanation of the spiritual (cosmic) into the material (earthly) as it is presented by the challenges of contemporary human existence. The artist finally liberated the heads of crystal glass, at the same time heavy and immaterial, of the firm, physical connection to the body and she just placed them onto the various combinations of marble, pillow-like forms on which they recline. Sometimes she also placed them into rectangular frames made of marble or metal, but directly on the floor, under the imaginary canopy over the stone columns that “cast” long shadows made of plastic foil on the floor. Regardless of the sculptural solutions and executed segments of the work, it couldn’t be interpreted as a sculpture in classic sense of the discipline. Potentially, combinations of these elements were limitless, just like the references’ repertoire, and it also reflected the naming and certain individualisation of a number of sculptures from the cycle.
Along with the cycles inspired by the myth and symbolics of Icarus, due to her participations in conceiving of and working at international sculpture symposia on problems regarding the role of sculptor and relationship of sculpture with natural and urban environment in particular, Milena Lah created over 400 tons of monumental sculptures across Europe, but the European dimension of her work is practically unknown and neglected in Croatia.
Acknowledgments: Igor Lah, Klovićevi dvori
Photographs: Goran Vranić