Curator: Leila Mehulić
Catalogue written by: Leila Mehulić
Designer: Igor Kuduz
Kranjčar Gallery, 2 April 2015 — 11 April 2015
Father and Son – Ivan and Pavel Posavec
In the company of their great fathers, most sons often seem lesser. The choice of the father’s well-trodden path will spare the son the side-ways and by-ways of exploration, but at the same time expose him to eternal identity crisis. Our parents are responsible for our most powerful formative experiences. A father is an eternal mentor and this painful relationship cannot be broken. However, methods of eschewing are as interesting as the fact that the lives of prodigal sons are quite similar to their fathers’. Ivan carried Pavel through a world of his own, where images of life ran at an incredible pace. Being exposed to such sensations created a natural-born new photographer. Ivan says that Pavel rejected the idea of this father’s mentorship, and the father considerately got out of his way. Ahead of this exhibition, Ivan was amazed at Pavel’s work. There was so much he did not know about his son.
Off the beaten path, Pavel was graced by the scenes that were his alone.
We have not had a chance to talk much. From a stack of photographs Pavel chose the ones of Zagreb by night. I tried to intuit them as if they were an anonymous bag of personal effects. Pavel delved into the unpleasant – social anomy. He described ruthless and unrelenting reality, its blemishes and malfunctions in an unusually tender penmanship. Beneath Zagreb’s cathedral and one scraggy Biedermeier balcony, two young men are procrastinating. In a dingy bar in Lower Town, bizarre expressions of intimacy, kids robbed off their future and their alcoholic escapism. The bar’s ethanol fumes create an illusion of merriment and bizarre expressions of intimacy. A bloodied head among heavy metal audience. In an empty club, two individuals peer into their glasses. A black backdrop looming over them turns the event into a scene on a theatre stage. These places make Pavel feel like home, among his own, and even in the rugged atmosphere he identifies with the solidarity of those who dropped out of the privileged circuit. Nevertheless, I cannot shake off the impression of the author’s detachment. I feel as though I can see it from the bird’s eye view, through windows and fences, on the life of others, the life he is no part of. Even though this is only a life of terrariums and anthills, the view might conceal traces of hidden desire.
The father, Ivan Posavec, is an indefatigable social commentator who subversively inserts his unrelenting humorous remarks and psychological studies into mainstream media reports in both the former and the current regime. Ivan also has another, quite private photographic life he is revealing at this exhibition. Selected fragments constitute the editing of the author’s imagery and his comprehensive self-portrait. Ivan’s cycle What’s an Artist Without Self could be called a final manifesto of an oeuvre, an epilogue to a long exploration of his own identity and artistic position, synthesised in the statement “How can you call yourself an artist if you don’t have a powerful, firm Self?” Haunted for decades by internal debates, Ivan stumbled upon a neon logo of Konzum’s brand Jana, with a burnt out letter N, and saw himself with “a long, accentuated Jaa” (myself).
Beyond the liberating exhibitionistic expression there is an ascetic red and black square. These unnamed works are part of the Keep Your Secret series, intimate notes the author refuses to speak about. “There are some things one cannot share. I can’t share this story with anyone.”
Ivan Posavec dedicated this exhibition to his prematurely departed friend Marina Viculin, the chronicler of his work. A dedication to Marina is called Greetings from Dužica, a humorous mail art project Ivan designed on her request for an exhibition on the island of Zlarin. Images of a comical situation of photographing a man with a goose, during which the man battles with the bird and loses his glasses, is an autobiographical record. The picturesque character is Posavec’s friend from his native Dužica, to the author “pure art”. Marina wrote: “No one sends postcards from Dužica, you send them from the seaside. (…) Postcards from the seaside represent the right to dream, they are a trace of the promised happy world. No one wants to kiss at a derelict community centre in Dužica, everybody longs for a beach open to the sea.” Dužica is a constant presence in the author’s work. “Roots I could not cut. We were all there. As though bound by cable wires. There was just ploughing, digging, the land drenched in sweat, and we stayed put. I was fed up with it when I was young. I thought I would do it, at one point it seemed like I could. And now, as I get older, it keeps getting harder and harder. Every time I have to go back to Zagreb, I have a problem, there is a twitch in my throat, like saying goodbye to someone you love. These fucking roots are deep and I have never managed to pluck them out. I struggled, but it didn’t work.”
Ivan also revels Scarface, a scene from an operating table, made in the anxious 1980s, which today seems like a dark presage to the events that followed. A fascination with the carnal is present in Pavel’s work as well.
Father and son symbolically meet in a counterpoint of two bicycles. The father’s Duchamp’s Bicycle is a neighbourhood assemblage of a vehicle and a chessboard. “I was seeing this bicycle for years at a park in Travno, where retired amateur chess players meet, and where my daughter used to play. Every time I thought of Duchamp.” Pavel’s bicycle is ethereal. If there were no traces of pavement, I would think this was an ink drawing. Before we capture it, it will escape the frame.