ART IN EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES
This year's comprehensive exhibition of DLUM 2021 is indeed taking place under exceptional circumstances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has lasted for over two years. As a result, various events, including openings, that could have been held under normal circumstances have been canceled, similar to the previous year's exhibition, which also took place under these "wartime conditions". Nevertheless, the significant anniversary of Grohar's successor, whose first exhibition was opened by its patron, General Rudolf Maister Vojanov, in 1920, is commemorated with a monograph that will remain as the sole document of this jubilee. This is a positive aspect, even though the monograph has received numerous criticisms, some of which are justified while others are not. The annual group exhibitions of DLUM members have always been important, actually the only indicator of artistic creativity in the mentioned territory covered by DLUM. As a long-standing professional collaborator of DLUM, I have had the honor of serving as an art critic and curator for numerous exhibitions, both domestically and abroad. During my time at UGM, they considered the collective exhibition, as long as it was still held at the New Exhibition Hall Rotovž, as one of the most challenging endeavors. During this time, the membership grew to the enviable number of 90, with a significant inclusion of younger artists. This year's count of 43 participants in the comprehensive exhibition is also one of the largest since the separation from DLPP, although we sadly miss some traditional participants.
The exhibition's title somehow suggested the proposed theme, along with a request for works from the most recent two years, with the intention of providing an overview of truly current production, which ultimately is the essence of the annual exhibition. Interestingly, quite a few participants, mostly classical landscape painters, responded to these exceptional circumstances with positive landscape motifs. Nature and, within that context, the countryside, have remained the last refuge and (for now) a source of health and optimism. This landscape-nature concept includes works by Ernest Artič, Matjaž Duh, Lučka Falk, Jože Foltin, Stojan Grauf, Natalija Juhart Brglez, Zmago Kovač, Albin Kramberger, Slađana Matić Trstenjak, Polona Petek, Gregor Pratneker, and Lucija Stramec. Many participants have depicted humans in nature as an integral part thereof, delving into contemporary existential questions. This concept includes works by Marjan Drev, Erne Ferjanič Ludvik Pandur, Milenka Pavlin Houška, and Oto Vogrin. The human figure in specific social or historical situations and environments, interpersonal relationships, and sometimes even with mystical content, has been the focus of Bogdan Čobal, Milan Ketiš, Zdravko Kokanović Koki, Jasna Kozar, Katja Majer, Samo Pajek, Branimir Ritonja, Maja Šivec, Stojan Špegel, and Mira Uršič. Within this framework, the animal motifs of Jožef Jurič and Marijan Mirt might also be included.
A significant number of participants responded with associative abstract works that uniquely define the space and time in which human civilization finds itself today. These are works by Irena Gajser, Nataša Grandovec, Azita Hedajati Bijol, Senad Ilazija, Špela Kobal, Matic Kos, Katja Kozjek Varl, Blažka Križan, Draga Moma, and Janez Rotman. Musical inspiration in this concept has been found by Marko Pak and Zoran Ogrinc. Among these unusual assemblages, there is a piece dedicated to the art of survival of artists in these times by Cvetka Hojnik and, as an act of self-sacrifice, a monograph pinned to the cross, symbolizing 100 years of OLD Vojko Pogačar's life and work. Therefore, this might be one of the most unique group exhibitions in the recent history of DLUM, which testifies to the tireless creativity of its female and male artists, as well as their sense of belonging. The society has a rich and successful tradition that no amount of undermining can nullify.
Mario Berdič Codella, in Maribor, November 2021