Art Projects

RECALL ATLANTIS - Dialectics of Utopia

By Peter Lodermeyer


Deeply rooted in our culture is the knowledge that even the most successful and apparently ideal civilisations are threatened by demise. Atlantis as an immemorial mythological place, and in Francis Bacon’s "New Atlantis" (1626) as futuristic model of social utopia, stands here for a symbolic paradigm full of meaning. In her project RECALL BYBLOS - The Art of Communication (1993) Kontrec focused on Phoenician script as the first modern alphabet, the most important trace of a civilization, which has almost completely disappeared except for few artefacts. In RECALL ATLANTIS the artist dares to take one step further into the Unknown: Atlantis poses even more open questions, offering unlimited artistic freedom. read more
In her search for answers, Anita Kontrec turns to the poetic work of William Blake. In homage to this English poet and artist, visionary and unorthodox thinker, she develops a kind of dialectics of Utopia. It seems to me that the three major characteristics of her picture objectsmay be directly related to Blake’s concept of the three states of consciousness: Innocence, Experience and Higher Innocence. Key words to understanding this correlation are: color, context, and light.

Color as a pure chromatic value emphasized by her contrastive compositions, can be related to Blake’s State of Innocence. "Purposeless" and random use of color, or in other words: color as a pure sensual experience, is gradually being suppressed from many areas of post-industrial society and can only be found at its fringes. Kindergartens are colorful, but offices, factories and lecture halls are a drab white or grey. Consciously "naive" combinations of vibrant colors in elementary landscape paintings by Kontrec - such as Earth, Water, Air, and Fire - momentarily revive the innocent eye of our childhood. Yet every ideal of innocence inadvertently revokes the memory of a lost Paradise. This object of desire is staged continually by commercials. The installation "Paradise NOW" depicts this ambivalence, where substitutes for happiness are offered, and color and color psychology are always being (mis)used to nourish a consumer mentality.

Along with her profound interest in spiritual themes, Kontrec is nevertheless a very pragmatic artist. She creates works of art which accompany us as humans in our everyday lives. They are made for specific uses: as calming or energizing points in workrooms and living environments: gardens, offices, entrance halls, stairways. Her spatial, three-dimensional picture objects and sculptures are light, easily transportable, weatherproof, easy to maintain and can be combined and installed in many various ways. She works "site specifically " - her ideas of culture and urbanity are based on interrelations of specific social and architectonic facts. This aspect of her work can be related to what Blake calls The State of Experience. It refers to the stage of civilisation of pragmatic decisions, attitudes and ideologies, ideas of what is "right" and what is "wrong", the competition of contrary perspectives and lifestyles, dualisms and conflicts of interests and the resulting technical and cultural body of knowledge. In other words, this is the state of modern urban life, in which we are still trapped. In this section of her exhibition Kontrec quotes verses by T.S. Eliot, the poet of modern urban sensibility.

If it is possible at all to depict The State of Higher Innocence in terms of Blake’s concept, this would be a state of consciousness free from the dualism of "contrary states of the human soul" that is inherent to most of the cultures and civilisations so far. If art can even address these themes or help to make them comprehensible, it can only do so by suggesting something that we cannot attain or something that we cannot "produce" but is simply there, simply present, not subject to our interpretation. In the case of Anita Kontrec’s spatial paintings it is the light that makes her works of art what they are. Since 2005 she has been increasingly concentrating her use of colors on their primordial essence - to light as the sum and origin of all colors. White pigments and transparent synthetic resin are her media of preference for these works. White pigments bring out the structure of her objects most clearly - endless variations of the most refined shades of whiteness and subtle structures of the material, which are as versatile and varying as reflected light upon water or ice. It is the light in contact with the material that forms her art. The third section of her exhibition "The Seventh Level of Heaven" is a celebration of light - light coming through the objects on the windows, light radiating from the white pigments; light that fills the whole room, light as the embodiment of Higher Innocence. Just as we witness this in her work "Mensch" /"Human"/ - a timeless, dancing Being of Light that unifies micro - and macrocosms. This figure, representing man in his or her pure essence, evoking associations from cave-dweller to astronaut, from embryo to God in human form, stands at the same time as the thoughtful and joyful starting point and conclusion of this exhibition.

Catalogue RECALL ATLANTIS, 46 pages, text by Dr. Peter Lodermeyer, art historian, Bonn /Germany, in english, german and croatian Photos by Damir Fabijanic, Zagreb; Graphic Design – Studio Rasic, Zagreb

ISBN: 953 – 6508 –32-x
The catalogue and exhibition have been realised with the finantial support of the Ministry of culture of the Republic of Croatia and the City office for Cultural Affairs, Zagreb