Ivan Kožarić

From the late fifties onwards the work by Ivan Kožarić has been characterized by a specific dehierarchization of the content that continuously recycles, processes, discards and rearranges his existing sculptures and a whole series of works in a loose system that rejects a strict chronological or systematic organization. His works are often left without signature or date; one form spontaneously grows from another; they are arranged into certain cycles, and later into different ones; and sometimes Kožarić repeats a work several times.

Although Kožarić is quintessentially a sculptor, his practice encompassing public monuments, ready-mades, performative elements, installations, conceptual proclamations, textual works, drawings and paintings, displays a sense of humor that ranges from subtle irony and absurdity to ridicule and the carnivalesque. His use of unexpected and often surreal juxtapositions and dislocations found an outlet while joining the avant-garde art group Gorgona in the 1960s.[1] Although Gorgona was not a formative experience, as he was already as other members of the group a mature artist, the time they spent together from 1959 to 1966 also marked one of the turning points in Kožarić's work. Gorgona’s elusive but synergic collective ethos imbued with ideas of absurd, anti-form, experiments in producing, exhibiting and contextualizing art, especially its transgressive ideas on the dissolution of art, undoubtedly radicalized Kožaric’s projects and his artistic thought.


For example, in 1971 he decided to give a coat of color to his famous studio at 12 Medulićeva Street in Zagreb, which was full of sculptures from various periods, diverse objects and everyday things. He re-painted almost everything in gold. Equalizing his artworks — including his sculptural masterpieces from the geometrical cycle Oblici prostora (The Shapes of Space, 1962—ongoing) and Isječak rijeke (Segment of a River, 1959), and earlier sculptural portraits such as Glava djevojke (Head of a Girl, 1954) — with the non-art objects in his studio, like his shoes or furniture, he simultaneously performed a radical negation and an affirmation of his work. Those elements of the studio that he left unpainted were wrapped in fabric to make temporary ‘anti-monumental’ bundles. He called this series of objects Pinkleci (‘bundles’ in dialect), and left them lying on the floor of the studio like random heaps of anonymous things. A living artistic organism, and his life-work, it embodies the idea of artistic totality. His studio has seen many transformations. After re-painting it in gold, Kožarić performed his next gesture in 1993, when the whole studio was moved to the Zvonimir Gallery in Zagreb for his solo show there, where he stayed and worked during the exhibition. After that, the studio was presented in 2002 in Kassel, within Documenta 11 and since 2009 it has become a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb.


Another paradigmatic sculpture is Čovjek koji sjedi (Sitting Man, 1954), for example, became a part of the sculptural installation Skulptura 1954—2000 (Sculpture 1954—2000, 2000), in which it was later joined to another cycle, the Privremene skulpture (Temporary Sculptures, c.1975—ongoing) series. When, in 2000, Sculpture 1954—2000 was shown in the exhibition of the same name at HDLU in Zagreb, the left arm of the sitting figure was lengthened by a 350-metre-long form made of aluminum foil that meandered through the exhibition space; at the end of the show, the artist cut it into pieces, which he gave to the visitors.


This dialectics and contradictions that are at the heart of his complex artistic practice have been best summarized by curator and writer Ješa Denegri, who described him as simultaneously "sculptor, anti-sculptor and non-sculptor in the same time, in the same person". [2]



[1] In addition to Kožarić, Gorgona included painters Josip Vaništa, Marijan Jevšovar, Julije Knifer and Đuro Seder; architect Miljenko Horvat; art historians Radoslav Putar, Matko Meštrović; and art historian, curator and artist Dimitrije Bašicević Mangelos.

[2] Ješa Denegri, "Sculptor, Anti-Sculptor and Non-Sculptor in the Same Time, in the Same Person", in Matica Hrvatska (ed.), Ivan Kožarić (exh. cat.), Sisak: The National Library, 2006, unpaginated.

1921, Petrinja / HR, at that time Jugoslavija



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  • Photo: Adam Sakovy
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