pictures that constitute a narrative unit one after another, their cyclical
repetition, the forming of
movement by the animation of hand-drawn drawings, slotting the movement into a restricted
space and involving a sound backdrop, references to natural processes and their coexistence
with artificially created situations: these are the visual determinants and at
the same time a
short précis of the works shown at the exhibition Etherarium.
Radovan Kunić’s work to date is mainly based on paintings done in oil on canvas in which figurative scenes prevail. His paintings are not overloaded with content, they record details extracted from their usual and expected context, and the visual and symbolic significance of the work is collected in the details depicted.
A hint of the movement, animations, and the temporal sequences necessary for their materialisation are indicated in the artist’s recent painting, a series of works that show the process of a candle burning down. The two-dimensional image is in its very nature a static medium and records a moment in time halted. By multiplying it and placing one picture next to another in such a way as to create a polyptych the artist creates out of static images a kind of animation, a moving image. The candle motif is the same on each part of the polyptych, and the separate images differ only in the strength of the flame. Although the light that the candle creates provides a complex iconographic interpretation, in this case there are also autobiographical connotations.
Paintings done in oils that in terms of their texture and visual configuration correspond to the content depicted are transformed into an animated video entitled Forgotten Space, which repeats in a loop, its form thus bringing out the repetitiveness and meditativeness of the content shown. The internal space, that in which we are alone with ourselves and that belongs only to us, will from time to time become that forgotten space, but yet it is always accessible, one to which we return when prompted by some trigger from outside.
We can experience the exhibition Etherarium like some spatial tale, its core consisting of two video-animations, Gathering and 1-24, at the basis of which is a depiction of the natural world, of insects and animals. The first of these two pieces shows a cloud of butterflies and moths of various sizes and shapes with various wing patterns, showing the individuality of each individual, while the use of black and white technique secures for the whole depiction a note of balance and seriousness.
If we bring the composition down to its component parts, we will conclude that it consists of lots of small formats that are combined and together build up a unit, recalling the process of creating and building the image, from detail to finished form. The animated video is founded on detail, made of a large number of hand drawn lepidopterans shown in every phase of opening and closing their wings. By combining the drawings into a moving image, an uneven visual rhythm consisting of the unexpected movement of the insects’ wings is acquired. The insects shown are assembled into a unit and create a kind of crush in the frame. The sound that can be interpreted as the amplified sound of wings flapping is an integral part of the work, and the sequences of the urban hubbub bring an element of disquiet into the whole scene. Rephrasing the words of the artist, the motif of butterfly symbolises fragility as well as the miraculous process of the metamorphosis that is part of the life-cycle of the lepidopteran. Transformation similar to that which occurs in the natural world is needful for the human
species too, but it is very much to be wondered whether it is at all likely or possible.
The visual shaping in the work is accompanied by sound in which we can recognise an imagination jungle space complemented with the thundering of steps that can be either human or animal, or both, and this work merges thematically into a unit with Gathering.
Although animation implies the technique of achieving motion, Gathering and 1-24 at a symbolic level show a deal of stasis, for neither tiger nor butterflies are going anywhere, moving around in a limited space. Both works were created in the context of the pandemic restrictions that have imposed on our quotidian new rules of behaviour that until that moment were unknown and incomprehensible.
The subject of one of the paradoxes of contemporary society in which the issue of identity and
personal information is both protected and made public is taken up in the video work Gate and
an installation in the form of a flag placed in front of the gallery venue. Both works make use of
the QR codes of the author’s accounts into which the encoded personal information of the
owner is imprinted. In the animation and in the installation, the codes are distorted and modified, take on new geometrical forms, and the code comes across as the bearer of a huge amount of personal data that are nevertheless in this form illegible. The question that inevitably arises is whether it is possible to protect privacy, even if modified, or whether the right has been lost forever.
The coinage in the title is composed of the words ether, which we can connect with the electronic media, and terrarium, which refers not only to the exhibition display case of the living world but also to terra, and refers to the totality of the phenomena that Radovan Kunić brings together in his current artistic work. He visualises the world of nature in correlation with artificially created situations by a blend of well versed methods of work such as the drawing in Gathering or painting in Biorama with new ventures in animation. Etherarium is a spatial tale consisting of works linked with similar motifs or formal characteristics, revealing themselves in layers, full of symbols and hidden meanings, impinging on social phenomena, everyday life, intimate stories and themes, and focusing on the ambivalence of meaning, the mixing of natural and artificial, human and wild.
Vilma Bartolić, 2021.