The Drava River is synonymous with Maribor and has been closely intertwined with the city's development and life since its inception. The visual ecological project titled "ECO ART MARIBOR-DRAVA" has a long tradition, now in its eighth year. (From 2010 to 2013, the project was part of the Ecological Action of the Drava River organized by the Maribor Diving Club. It then evolved to become an independent project with expanded artistic activities.) This year, under the conceptual guidance of photographer Maja Šivec, the idea of a vision of a clean river, which is a source of life for people on both of its banks, was pursued by seven additional authors: photographer Barbara Gregurič Silič, painter Barbara Kastelec, painter Slađana Matič Trstenjak, sculptor Marjan Mirt, painter Ludvik Pandur, and painters Polona Petek and Mira Uršič. Members of different generations, enthusiasts who believe in the significance of a clean environment, delved into the meaning of the Drava River.
Slovenia captivates anyone with its uniqueness and unforgettable natural beauty; those who experience it will never forget it. Among its special features is a section of the Drava River that flows through Slovenia. (The Drava River is a river in Central Europe, a right tributary of the Danube. It originates in northeastern Italy in the Toblach Field in the Puster Valley near the town of San Candido in South Tyrol, close to the border with Austria. It flows through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, along the Croatian-Hungarian border, and discharges into the Danube near the village of Aljmaš, downstream of Osijek.)
Barbara Gregurič Silič (1975, Maribor), a master of photography since 2019, seeks inspiration everywhere, with portraits of children and street photography being her greatest challenge. Her photographs exude a unique atmosphere that can evoke associations with classical artists' oil paintings or simply remind viewers of the origin of the word "photography" – painting with light. Her artistic photographs deeply move the viewer with a clear narrative within them, and the peculiar choice of motifs encourages reflection on the artist's message.
Barbara Kastelec (1976, Kranj) mostly adheres to the principles of concrete art in her creative process, but from the beginning – alongside compositional harmony – she's been interested in the internal aspect of the image. The painter makes visible what our eyes don't perceive, what isn't immediately evident and is only revealed to the viewer's gaze and analysis through her work. These structures and enlargements of particles present themselves as fundamental questions within the realm of art, science, and ecology. Her works are directed towards a vision of the future existence of humanity.
Slađana Matić Trstenjak (1985, Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina), a self-employed cultural worker, lives and creates in Maribor. In her vividly colored paintings using various techniques, materials, and forms, she achieves a playful character that, in conjunction with natural phenomena, takes on symbolic meaning. Through her original collage approach – adding scaly structures – she allows the viewer to peel their own meaning from her visual narrative. She thoughtfully abstracts landscapes and characteristic natural phenomena into softly formed, vibrant, colorful compositions.
Marijan Mirt (1975, Zagreb, Croatia), living and creating in Maribor, is the author of several public sculptures at home and abroad; he also engages in graphic design, photography, and teaching. The sound of silence, enveloped in the green tones of grass spreading over the Giacometti-like elongated figure, tells the story of life in contemporary society – based on the past. The interweaving of past and present by the sculptor is always socially critical. This time, his stylized embodiment of a male figure with a symbolically incorporated river points to the fragility and deterioration of nature.
Ludvik Pandur (1947, Slovenj Gradec) paints as he feels, not just as he sees; his paintings are sensitive organisms. The painter's abstract-associative motifs, originating from the landscape (this time along the Drava), dive convincingly into space, extending to the very edge of the pictorial surface, where light dazzles almost submerges color. The pictures are filled with a diversity of vibrant, vehement elements. The painter connects their diversity and the wild shapes of the river, where (almost) figure silhouettes dominate, into a firm and harmonious whole.
Polona Petek (1970, Freiburg, Germany) employs the technique of transferring photographs to create pictorial albums. The motifs of her larger paintings are usually views of her immediate surroundings, which she observes, records, and interprets as a silent observer. The photographed reality doesn't suffice for her to create paintings with a solid visual structure; it only provides a compositional framework. The image gains its final appearance through her artistic interpretation. Nature, with its inexhaustibility, allows sensitive painterly solutions, but at the same time, serves as a current protest against its destruction.
Maja Šivec (1975, Slovenj Gradec) tells stories through her photographs: the recognizability of her visual language is based on her unique approach to narratives. Her photographic series are conceived as self-contained statements, where individual motifs play a similar role to paragraphs in a story. Through a blue-tinted abstract triptych (using a special photographic technique), she conveys her vision of the beloved river, to which she has dedicated more than a decade of her attention. Does she see it through glasses that beautify the world, or to better see what needs protection?
Mira Uršič (1950, Maribor) is a witty painter; her images are windows into a world of memories. She's a painter who is never short of new challenges, which she paints in various tones. Her works are always infused with a unique harmony. Through surprisingly vivid colors and diverse, sometimes incomprehensible symbolism, she creates unexpected contexts. A long time has passed since her self-portrait Mona Lisa with crossed arms in the middle of a bridge over the Drava, and new memories of water (of Tomaž and Metka). Clearly, nature, which predominates in her works, gives her the most inspiration.
The exhibited artworks by all eight authors do not represent dramatically apocalyptic visions, but rather a view of a (sometimes already) wounded world that must be healed today, a view of nature that should remain as it is. A portrayal of a clean, unpolluted Drava River. It's not just about depicting a personal perception of a threat that might become reality in the near future, but also about a belief in a clean, unpolluted world. However, the Drava River flows on, unaffected by longings, love, and memories... it flows and kisses the shores.
Tatjana Pregl Kobe
(EXHIBITION) Idea of a Vision of a Clean River (vecer.com)