The exhibition is the product of the sixth edition of the national competition for graduate students of art academies and art history programs. The winners of this year’s competition are Leo Pavlović, a graduate visual arts student at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek (mentored by Assoc. Prof. Miran Blažek), and Ljubica Bilić, a student from the Art History Department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split (mentored by Assoc. Prof. Dalibor Prančević, PhD). Ana Čukušić is the project coordinator on behalf of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Leo Pavlović – Ornamental Continuum/Pigs

The works Ornamental Continuum and Pigs by the artist Leo Pavlović connect the visual aspect as an inseparable form of art with that manifested in the traditional heritage of Slavonia. Pavlović, originally from Novska in Slavonia, drew inspiration from direct encounters with folk costumes, folklore, dance, music, and the village, incorporating them into the framework of his artistic poetics.

With the polyptych Ornamental Continuum, the artist creates his own unique version of the ornament, inspired by various traditional patterns from Croatia and around the world. Ornament, as a determinant of national identity, assumes the role of personal representation. Just as over time, traditional visual symbols gradually solidify into a collective image of a specific people or community, Pavlović portrays the process of creating his own ornament in various mixed media, including print sheets, India ink and marker drawings, multimedia video, artist’s books, and zinc plates. The work raises the question of whose hands are concealed behind the successive, rhythmic patterns that have been sealed in our memory as heritage through Croatian wattle, embroidery, and other handcrafts. Who has been continuing the process to distinguish their community from others. Pavlović becomes the subject of this process, summarizing in one place what was built through tradition over centuries. The practicality of utility objects with traditional ornaments is replaced by the visuality of modern art media. The presentation of the work is flexible and adapts to the requirements of the exhibition space, reducing the number of exhibits or creating entirely new ones.

In the digital photographs titled Pigs, the artist focuses on the pig, once again evoking Slavonia, whose ancestors were nurtured by this animal. In a dark, otherwise inaccessible and unpleasant place – the pigsty, he conveys a dramatic chiaroscuro, a contrast in depicting the pig emerging from the dark background. To the ornament, as an already established symbol of Slavonia, the artist adds the pig, paying dignified tribute to its forgotten sacrifice in the darkness. (Ljubica Bilić)