Essays

2017 / group exhibition / ADRIA ART 2017, Krka Gallery, Ljubljana, SI

Opus mlade akademske slikarke in magistrice umetnosti Kaje Urh je dokaz, da odlično obvlada svoje metje. V času, ko tehnično generirane podobe preplavljajo svet in pogosto postajajo celo višek naše vizualne kulture, razkriva obilico likovnega znanja in ustvarjalne senzibilnosti, s čimer dosega likovno in vizualno prepričljive rezultate. In vendar se njeno slikarstvo naslanja na medijske podobe, ki so značilne za fotografske posnetke, videoprodukcijo in medmrežje.

Z avtorsko izvirno in pomenljivo umetniško manipulacijo jih z digitalnega področja prenese na platno, na svoj nezamenljivi slikarski zaslon. Tako anemično podobo povzdigne na umetniški piedestal. S svojim ustvarjanjem nekako nadaljuje zavezo med fotografijo in slikarstvom, ki je sicer že leta stara. Pri tem pa ostaja zvesta sebi, lastnemu načinu in intimnemu ustvarjalnemu konceptu. Prisvojeno podobo razgradi z eksaktnim vertikalnim linijskim členjenjem in si pri tem pomaga z lepilnim trakom. Tako ustvarja zamike oz. vzpostavlja kombinacijo dveh realnosti, navsezadnje pa tudi dveh časovno zamaknjenih sekvenc. V vsebinskem smislu najraje posega po figuralnih prizorih in s tem širi aktualno ikonografijo. Njeni tokratni prizori so povezani tudi z morsko motiviko. Ob odličnem obvladovanju klasičnega figiralnega podobotvorja in discipliniranem nanašanjem barv ostaja klasična, hkrati pa odločno presega tradicijo. Z barvami, ki pripadajo omejenim skrbno izbranim vrednostim, se v nekaterih rešitvah še enkrat dotakne morja.

― Anamarija Stibilj Sajn

 


2017 / solo exhibition / RINGA ROSES, Small Gallery, Kranj, SI

Enaindvajseto stoletje je preplavila zasičenost moderne tehnologije, ki si ne utira svoje poti samo v naše domove, temveč se je že zdavnaj prikradla v našo podzavest in uničila dobršen del naše identitete in realne zaznavnosti. Ljudje izgubljamo stik z vrlinami in življenjem, ki nas je obdajalo v času pred vsesplošnim razvrednotenjem. Ta zasičenost pa odvzema moč tudi likovni podobi.

Svet Kaje Urh se tako naslanja na vse masovno virtualno arhivirane podobe, ki se dnevno množijo, hkrati pa vedno znova izpodrivajo predhodne, kot bi tekmovale za svoj položaj in obstoj. Le-tega ne morejo obdržati, saj so digitalne podobe – brez kakršnekoli čustvene zaznave – producirane z namenom, da v nas prebudijo željo po vedno aktualnejših izsekih minevajočega življenja. Če so se predhodne generacije še lahko do neke mere izogibale tej poplavi podatkov, pa so današnji otroci vrženi v svet, v katerem si življenja brez moderne tehnologije ne moremo več predstavljati. Hočeš nočeš, je to realnost in hkrati prihodnost, brez možnosti obrata ali odmika, je življenjski tok, ki nas je že davno vsrkal v svoj srž.

Cikel Ringa Roses se tako dotakne vloge in položaja otroka v današnjem času. Prikazani so raznoliki prizori otrok iz vsakdanjega življenja. Prostor je nakazan, a hkrati podrejen. Ne posveča mu večje pozornosti v smislu definiranosti in umestitve, temveč je zasnovan le kot posrednik globine, ki se odvija za figurami v ospredju. Kompozicija povečini vsebuje od ene do tri osebe, ponekod pa nastane tudi kontrast enega proti množici. Prikazan je pogled iz nižje perspektive oziroma spuščen na višino otroka, s čimer se poudarja njegovo osrednjo vlogo. Ta je potisnjen v prvi plan, druge osebe pa imajo spremljevalno vlogo, v kateri nastopajo kot celostne podobe ali samo izseki vezani na zgodbo, ki jo želi izpostaviti. Slikarka izhaja iz naključno izbranih podob virtualnega sveta, ki jih na podlagi skupnega imenovalca, videnega v posamezni kompoziciji, prenaša na svoje slikarsko platno. Hibrid ali križanec, bi lahko označili podobe, ki nastajajo kot spoj dveh svetov virtualnega in realnega, digitalnega in klasičnega ali pa bi lahko rekli prehodno – masovnega in fizično – edinstvenega. Kompozicija v teh delih nas spominja na neke vrste kodno digitalno sliko. Enakomerne vertikalne linije si v enakem zaporedju in razmaku sledijo od levega do desnega roba platna. Z rastrom nakazuje homogeno enoličnost digitalne dobe, hkrati pa naj bi na to kazala tudi zamaknjenost slike. Dela postajajo težko berljiva in zahtevajo od gledalca več pozornosti. Če je sam prenos fotografij, ki jih spaja in prenaša na platno, povezan z moderno tehnologijo, pa je tehnika slikarskega dela tista, ki igra pomembno vlogo in s pomočjo katere nastajajo te zastrto naslikane podobe. Vertikalnost linij in povečini diagonalno izpeljana kompozicija, ustvarja razgibanost in živost samega narativnega prizora, ki se odvija pred našimi očmi. Izmeničen preplet dveh podob daje videz enotnega motiva, ki vibrira v komplementarnih barvah. Avtorica povečini izbira močne barvne tone. Barvna paleta tako predstavlja redukcijo in poudarja dramatično, otožno izpoved, v kateri resnost motiva še bolj izstopi, postane celo srhljiv.

Aktualnost tematike razkriva vsebinsko – kritično, kot tudi satirično končno idejo. Izstopajoča kodna nota del, pa povezuje oba svetova. Tako ne moremo zaobiti misli, da se vsebinska izpoved, kot tudi celostna podoba slikarstva Kaje Urh, ne dotika samo digitalnih medijev in njihove zasičenosti, kajti na vsakem koraku nas spremlja vloga slikarstva, kateremu je v zadnjih letih padla vrednost in moč, ki jo je imelo v preteklosti in katero si nikakor ne more povrniti. Je zato mogoče to podzavestno zasnovan dvogovor, med obema vejama, kot rešitev ter želja po pozornosti, ali pa je resnično le nekakšen opomin, da na koncu je slika, kot fizična podoba, oprijemljiva realnost, ki ne zbledi in se s časom ne izgubi.

― Melita Azman

 


2016 / solo exhibition / LAYERS, Tower Skrlovec Gallery, Kranj, SI

Layerjeva hiša v galeriji Stolpa Škrlovec predstavlja samostojno razstavo slikarke Kaje Urh, ki je tudi prva samostojna razstava mlade umetnice v rodnem mestu. V svoji umetniški praksi se Kaja Urh posveča možnostim, ki jih nudijo množični mediji, sodobna komunikacijska sredstva in nasičenost informacij. Njene slike prikazujejo vizualni ples podob, ki jih umetnica montira, manipulira, rekonceptualizira in jim podarjanov pomen ter si jih s tem prilašča. Nekoč pozabljene spletne podobe, vzete s „spletnega smetišča“, ki jih spaja in zliva, postanejo njene. V nasprotju s sodobno vseprisotno medijsko komunikacijo, ki žari, kriči in vpije po pozornosti, podobe Kaje Urh podležejo elementom prenasičenosti zgolj na ravni inovativne likovne tehnike, ki jo slikarka izbira. Njeni motivi v seriji Layers pa prav nasprotno – pomirjajo. Vintage motivi, starinski, a zopet moderni, torej retrogradni, v slike vpeljujejo občutek izgubljenega časa. Estetika izginjanja podob v času v gledalcu vzbuja občutek epileptičnega stanja ali v besedah Paula Virilia stanja zavesti, ki se oblikuje skozi odsotnost same podobe, podobe, ki jo definirajo praznine, vrzeli, napake (glitches). Gledalci, nepripravljeni na permanentno napako v podobi, na vizualni „glitch“, konzumirajo retro podobe na način, kot jih hipotetični očividci ameriških ulic, deklet na plaži, Marilyn Monroe niso nikoli videli. Umetnica mojstrsko nanaša podobe v plasti, v „layerje“, ki so poimensko duhovito in brez dvoma vezani na hišo ob galeriji, Layerjevo hišo. Nivoji podob razkrivajo druga drugo in rišejo novo zgodbo, ki jo Urhova ponudi zgolj v naslovu dela. Izbira vintage, retro motivov ni naključna, po besedah avtorice prav motivi „še dodatno poudarijo razkorak med preteklostjo in sodobnostjo“. Naj so sodobne intermedijske umetniške prakse popolne rekonceptualizacije in vnovične uporabe „obsolete technologies“ danes vidne predvsem v uporabi tehnologij konca 20. stoletja, se pri Urhovi koncept re-uporabe popolnoma obrne na glavo (ali raje - zavrti v časovnem stroju), saj s svojo likovno prakso postane umetnica hekanja zares zastarelih tehnologij, v njenem primeru tisočletne tehnologije – tehnike slikanja na platno, ki ji edina in še vedno samo ona omogoča ustvarjanje vizualnega sporočila v, kot pravi sama, „polni ločljivosti, naravni velikosti in v realnem času“. Sliko, ogroženo podobo, ki so jo digitalna tehnologija ter računalniški, tablični in mobilni zaslon pomanjšali na velikost ročnega formata, Urhova postavlja v galerijo Stolpa Škrlovec do 5. aprila.

― Zala Vidali

 


2015 / solo exhibition / THE CAROUSEL OF IMAGES, Simulaker Gallery, Novo mesto, SI

Kaja Urh is a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, whose art practice is classified at that line of painting that draws from the mass media. The latter are recognizable through motifs, while appear as a starting point for reflection on the relationship between traditional painting and digital imagery. Young representative of classical paintings, who grew up on the World Wide Web, finds no threat in a flood of "jpg" images. It is assimilated in her practice, whereby she is primarily interested in whether if its analogue form also has predetermined response.

The title of the exhibition, The carousel of images, is very explicit wording for the ways of displaying visual information, which is subject to modern society. The movement of the carousel is characterized by both continuity as well as cyclicality. The person is in addition to the pervasiveness of both condemned to repetitive image; these are not the same, but at the same time already seen. Although it appears that most, except those few images that are set up as iconic, are after "consummation" condemned to oblivion, their effect is prolonged. Shown images remain in our consciousness, where they are transcribed and combined into (stereo)typical image, and as such entering into our collective memory. [1]

It is this disposition that allows us to read Kaja’s paintings and conceptually rounded formations. One wall of the gallery includes digital images (in format or resolution than can be found on the web), which form the basis of a copyright work. Kaja copies these "discarded" images into a painting medium, because as she says " bears the weight of human presence in full resolution, life-size and real time." The result is an extremely convincing impression of collage cut fragments, wherein the artist combines images that do not have a logical connection, except that they follow the sequence of the carousel as an equal part of reality. It is a thoughtful combination that initially tested in a computer drawing, and then masterfully transferred onto a canvas. The dialectic of heterogeneous images create new, meaningful messages.

The largest work at the exhibition, The Gravity of Species assembles three different Web images. Who would not recognize a cutout of the cult photography of a kiss on the announcement of the American victory over Japan on it? It seems that our eye would like to draw an image of the whole motif, but in a search of continuation of sailors dark suit and nurse‘s white dress it collides with the image of two rampaging dog muzzles. In the next moment we no longer separate them from predators; violence inevitably becomes part of a kiss story. Furthermore, in a painting We can do it , we recognize male characters, recognizable figures of politicians whose dramatic gestures are highly divided on the peaceful staging of children's games in the sand, which shines through. Similar tension is also created between the revolutionary attitudes of men in paintings Brighter Future and Sheep Will Rise again and still images of sheep, focused toward us.

Kaja Urh’s image unit’s assembling is precisely a form of manipulation with the material, but the manipulation is at the same time visible. The cut is a key element of her work. Prepared with the waived images she attaches new importance on them and allows alternative look at them through the elements  of overlap, fragmentation and shining that perfectly visualize the experience of today's world.

― Marina Katalenic

[1] "In both cases it does not often show one and the same image, but nevertheless in each image, no matter how different we recognize the same" face". In all the media were circulating countless images of a movie celebrity (Marlyn Monroe), who ever caught her famous face, as it wrote in the collective memory, although images were different as much as possible. This means that we are dealing with an image in our imagination ... "in Hans Belting: Faces. History of the face, Ljubljana 2014.


2015 / solo exhibition / NEW MEMBERS, Small Gallery, Kranj, SI

Kaja Urh is thinking about the relationship between classical painting and digital media in her work. She is aware of the 21st century’s problems, as it glut us with modern information media and thereby discourages from crucial part of the individual work. Because of the massive amounts of videos, photos and graphic images we no longer follow the development or forget the images that are recording the history of mankind and key moments. This is also the reason why spectacors can not relate any longer a genuine contact with works of art that would enable them to understand the work and the artist. There are too many information invading us daily. The artist decided to use these neglected images of digital media and transfer them to canvas. With this gesture she changed their meaning, and they drew up in a whole new artistic touch. The selection of photographs is therefore not bear any deeper meaning, more or less a common point, which provide two parts and the possibility of manipulation thereof.

Look at her work resembles a certain image, which we have already met in a different context. If we expose two works of art, The Gravity of Species and Brighter Future, we can see the picture of Alfred Eisenstaedt, which was made at the end of the Second World War and shows the moment of a soldier, kissing a nurse in Times Square. It is a scene of joy that swept the United States at the end of the war. Some figurine parts are intentionally left out and joined by the following procedural story of  bloodthirsty dog fights, and friendly hug between the dog and man. We could make out the whole symbolism of love, hate and friendship. Figures and animals in the foreground are plastically formed, while in the background hinted and are slowly losing their plasticity and emphasis. She uses cold and soft tones. The most notable scene is dog fights, as it is the only scene on a dark background, which further highlight the negativity of the event. The whole composition is balanced and complete. S collage-like work she reached the effect of tension and dynamism.

Painting Brighter Future presents multifaceted work. Theme is a critically political. The rebels with raised arms and fists clenched in the foreground are shown from the frog-, whereas sheep in second plan in frontal perspective. Three rebels are standing out, their face expression is an expression of mental state, in this case, the rage and anger, which is supported by the raised arm and clenched fist as a symbol of resistance, opposition and revolution. Figurine’s dedication is felt. Even sheep in the background have a symbolic meaning. We know that they are guided, unassuming dispositioned and all tolerant. They are a symbol of purity, innocence, patience and at the same time apply as a typical sacrificial animal. In such manner they are also shown in this work. So we can fully see the group, who fight for their rights and their followers in the form of sheep. It is a reflection of the time we live. Painting is assemblied as a diptych. The technique on which work is built is interesting, because we have a primary layer on which the background are painted. Another layer with rebels results in the second painting over the first one. The latter is presented as part of the grid, vertical lines in a certain rhythm, which emphasizes the verticality and the drama of the event – indicated with streched arms. Through lack of cut and torn off segments the background is partly visible. Figures are plastically indicated. In this work of art she used colder a subtle color shades from green to blue, which balances the warmth of brown. This contrast of blue and brown in a raster creates vibrations and the illusion of space, which are hidden in the background, while a whole works well balanced and harmonious. This contrast of blue and brown in increments creates vibrations and space illusion, which are hidden in the background, while the entire work is well balanced and harmonious.

Despite the fact that the focal point and the manipulation of images and the search for a new image, Kaja Urh in her work preserves the history and the present, and interprets it in her own way. In that manner she makes an interest to the spectator, who confronts the work, tries to understand it and at the same time finds artist’s message in it.

Melita Azman


2015 / solo exhibition / INTERLACING, KiBela Gallery, Kibla MC, Maribor, SI

“Mass media shape our mental images. This is most evident in the more popular cases, such as painting (e. g. Mona Lisa), while on the other hand a lot of images are underestimated. We consume mass media images, which means that our response is predetermined. The viewer does not necessarily establish any kind of contact with the artwork anymore, even though it appears that he is in a seemingly direct connection to the work. The possibility of an artwork having an immediate effect on the observer has virtually vanished. This is why the basis of the works comprises accidental, disregarded images (i. e. amateur, thematically undefined, unpopular etc.) from a digital medium, transferred onto the canvas. In doing so, their meaning is changed – instead of “internet junkyard”, they are placed in the role of an artwork.” (Kaja Urh)

In the past, paintings have served – by way of symbols and clearly postulated attributes - as a way of reading the subject matter. The popular painting motive of the Mona Lisa can historically be established as a synonym for the dividing line that took place during the renaissance period and marked the shift from craftsmen to artists, as in the case of Leonardo da Vinci and some of his fellow guild members, for example Albert Dürer. However, it is the emergence of a new medium, i. e. photography, that is the chronological predecessor of some of the greatest shifts in the world of art and in terms of various global mindsets that appended modernism and all the isms that followed to this day.

The Mona Lisa is on display at the Louvre, protected under a thick, bulletproof glass. The visitors are still plenty, gathering in orderly queues to make use of the strictly limited time to observe the painting. A detailed analysis of the work is enabled by means of printed media and the internet, where we can see its enlargement, with all the cracks, traces of time, and the more-or-less successful restoration process… We know it’s not the only copy and that replicas exist; one of them is thus kept at the Prado Museum in Madrid, supposedly it originates from Da Vinci’s apprentice workshop… In the age of today, Damien Hirst, a conceptual artist whose works have reached skyrocketing prices, is making a public appeal to young artists skilled in classical artistic depictions, to become performers of his next (market) art opus.

Kaja Urh is an academic artist, one very skilled at the “craft” of painting. She examines various techniques, as well as her own perception and memory. She physically paints painting over painting. Literally and analogically. The computer design serves as a sketch of the mental record of the seemingly effortless combination of “accidental, disregarded images from web spam”. This changes their meaning and it is here that an insightful, critical, satirical narrative shift occurs. 21st century symbolism and iconography; the narrative character of interlacing sentences between the lines…

Do we know how to observe a painting? The works of Kaja Urh are a challenge and an educational gesture at the same time. Most combinations of snapshots and movie stills speak about a seemingly effortless narrativeness of joining the images, which, however, in the contact with the artwork inside the gallery space, unfold according to our physical movement closer or farther from them. It is only then that the mechanism of reading the story is triggered inside us. The conceptualism that we perceive by way of the story, by the manner in which two different events are combined, each belonging to “a movie of its own”, testifies to a peculiar and original appropriation that discloses the artist’s critical and mature perspective of the world.

The computer screen cannot enable us to read the stories written on Kaja Urh’s canvases – we need a real artwork format. Unlike the Mona Lisa, which we cannot approach in the gallery space – because of the bulletproof glass “screen”…

Tanja Grosman


2014 / group exhibition / SOCIAL FUTILITY, Amfiteater, Maribor, SI

The painting process emerges trough the use of masking tape. That is the reason why Sheep Available gives a combination of two realities to the spectator, two angles that are in mutual conflict, but still followed through meaningful line. "Masking tape of different density is linearly and alongside applied to the canvas. Then the first image is painted over. Once the tape is removed, the image is displayed. Subsequently, by the repeated process it’s supplemented with additional image. Missing parts of one and the other images are integrated into a new image that recreates manipulation, which can be made by computer technology, "the author explains his technique of creating. A work with its visual image tells almost more than words could. It hits the essence of modern society, which is based on the fact that the majority leads the minority. The painting could even be a great cover of Freud's work on the psychology of the masses as well as any other sociologically meaningful work. Manipulation has become a very relative thing. The effect of resistance and revolution in exchange for something better sometimes bases on the manipulation of someone else. So it is in the society, that individual power measurement is confirmed by their "majority" in society (the crowd). Non-critic and background ignorance are the hallmarks of modern society that holds only media-mediated addresses read from online newspapers. Fast acquired general knowledge does not mean weighed criticism. In order to manipulate reality duplicates, evidenced by the motifs which is created through manipulation and "reminiscent of digital media. Because of its affordable accessibility are aimed to a diverse social groups with different priorities." The essence of the artist's exploration is the relationship between traditional painting and digital media. The latter are "virtual and intangible, while shaping our mental image," explains herself.

Petra Ceh