The first collaboration between the Museums of Fine Art in Split and Osijek presents in Split the exhibition project titled East of Eden which includes an extensive theoretical view of members of the younger and middle generation of artists active in Osijek for the last two decades. The idea behind the concept of this exhibition is to point out the competence of Osijek forces within contemporary discourses, and East of Eden is the first such exhibition in a planned series that was produced two years ago. It was curated by Valentina Radoš (MLU), together with Blaženka Perica, PhD an art historian and an Associate Professor at the Arts Academy in Split. The author of the exhibition concept is Vladimir Frelih, Associate Professor of Art at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, while Krešimir Purgar and Igor Loinjak participated with texts in the exhibition catalogue.

The title of the exhibition East of Eden aims at pointing out some specifics of a part of the Osijek scene through a very disparate and not at all self-evident notion of abstraction. In our post-media age of the omnipresent image, when a new theoretic paradigm is constructed through the question what do pictures want? the exhibiting artists have accepted the challenges of the basic determinants of the image, pictoriality and visuality with the motivation inherited from the pioneers of the early 20th ct. avant-garde abstract artists. The fact that even after more than one hundred years from the request for the supremacy of pure feeling and the visibility of the spiritual, after Kandinski and Malevič, the interest for the abstract is still present with the young artists, which is also shown by the exhibition concept. East from the exhibition title is not only a geopolitical designation of the place where the works created for the exhibition have been exhibited, but serves as a more comprehensive basis for interpreting a certain situation, or artistic production in this case. In her text in the exhibition catalogue Blaženka Perica explains the notion of east and its various denominators: “East from the exhibition title is self-explanatory: what connects it all is the living and working space of these artists, the city of Osijek. Until recently, on the map of contemporary art events it was considered – if not “empty land” – then certainly a marginal environment in comparison to Zagreb, and in relation to which the art scenes in Rijeka or Split were also marginally positioned. Paraphrasing the East mentioned in the Book of Genesis, or even the direct meaning of original sin in a theological sense, is psychosomatic understanding that the east of our country is a place of exiles or sinners. Such play of words and opposites is a conceptual core of the exhibition – in its effort towards affirmation, interpretation and finally promotion of the Osijek art scene and its protagonists over the last couple of decades. Through complete authorial units, seven artistic conceptions are presented here – as different as they are from each other, so strong in a common attitude and the starting point. Art scene in Osijek is, especially over the last few decades, one of the liveliest and most perspective in Croatia and we would like to present it as such.