In her work, Snježana Ban has continuously been manifesting a layered, poetically fully rounded and artistically perfectly recognizable synergy between rationally considered and emotionally intuitive artistic procedures. The said synergy, dualistically treated, undoubtedly originates from her attitude towards the entire phenomenology of art, original in many ways and well known to all followers of her work. The artist elaborated it a few years ago and then convincingly expressed it in an exhibition as part of her doctoral dissertation with the indicative title Doubt as a Creative Potential in Contemporary Painting. In Snježana’s interpretation, doubt implies a sort of insecurity, a kind of labile balance of the intellect that can be conductive to open thinking, and therefore to receptivity for fresh ideas or initiatives, which are, however, also necessarily infected with germs of new doubts from the outset. Properly directed doubt drives one forward, but at the same time protects against potentially fatal deviations; it is the guarantor of humanist dynamics.

It is fully in accordance with such considerations (and feelings) that Snježana has conceived her latest exhibition at this year’s edition of Katamaran Art. It has two parts: one for the interiors of the Museum of Fine Arts in Split and the Kravata Gallery in Jelsa, and the other for the exteriors in front of them – the Museum’s atrium and St John’s Square. Analogously, the exhibition at both locations consists of two seemingly different, yet poetically compatible components, whereby the artist has placed collages on canvas united under the title Sailing along the gallery walls and installations titled Messages in a Bottle in the nearby exteriors.

The collages are of intimate proportions, they owe their creation exclusively to the cutting and gluing procedures, and they actually form a kind of vertically oriented diptychs made of visual and mostly verbal parts. The visual parts in the lower row show human figures in poses of summer leisure, in everyday distractions, or while waiting during ship transfers, while the verbal ones in the upper row contain short quotes or isolated thoughts, both those of the artist and of some other authors, important to Snježana. The title Sailing is, of course, directly connected with the basic logistics of maintaining the Katamaran Art project, but it also points to the dual symbolism of the term “sailing”: on the one hand, as physical travel of persons and on the other (in the lower register) as a metaphorical, spiritual journey in the sense of circulation, exchange, and acquisition of ideas.

In the exterior – as pointed out – the artist has placed two installations titled Messages in a Bottle. These are sort of collages as well, but this time site specific. The short quotations or isolated thoughts mostly match or are similar to those in the gallery, but here the artist has “compressed” them into jars, clearly alluding to – as the title of the installation openly and unequivocally suggests – sending messages by the unconventional sea route. Sending a message in a bottle means opting for an extremely uncertain way of communication with a completely unknown potential primary recipient, and it can often be a romantic act of desperation. Finding a message in a bottle, however, almost always implies mythical connotations and is a seductive potential introduction to some upcoming adventure. Just like when we suddenly discover some of the stimulating thoughts or ideas that circulate across the artistic horizon imperceptibly, as if they were messages in a bottle.

Vanja Babić

Snježana Ban (b. 1980 in Zagreb) graduated in 2007 from the Department of Art Education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, in the class of Prof Ante Rašić, and in 2008 from the Faculty of Textile Technology in Zagreb, majoring in fashion design. She received her PhD in 2019 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, under the mentorship of Prof Ante Rašić and Blaženka Perica, PhD. Since 2007, she has been employed at the Department of Art Education, Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. She has presented her work in six solo exhibitions and a number of group and thematic exhibitions in Croatia and abroad. With Tea Hatadi and Ante Rašić, she organized the thematic group exhibition Retroperspective: These works could be... at the Prsten and PM Gallery, Croatian Association of Visual Artists (HDLU) in Zagreb (2016). She created the concept of the group exhibition Art is Doubt, held in three parts during 2020 at the Lexart warehouse in Zagreb. She was awarded the Grand Prize of the 28th Youth Salon.