Bogoslav Kalaš working in his studio in Radomlje, October 2015, photo by Živa Kalaš Rožman©.
Exhibition opening: 17 December 2015 at 8 p.m. at Museum of Modern Art.
In the past, Moderna galerija has collaborated successfully with Bogoslav Kalaš a number of times, on group exhibitions, and on the Triennial of Contemporary Art U3 in 2010, which was, quite felicitously, dedicated to the question of realism, which has, again, recently seen a renewed presence. Kalaš’s works were shown extensively for the first time at his solo exhibition in Mala galerija in 1983, and then again in 1995, also at Mala galerija. Those Kalaš works that are part of Moderna galerija's national painting collection have been regularly selected for permanent exhibitions. In 2006, Moderna galerija also hosted the Jakopič Awards, where Bogoslav Kalaš received a lifetime achievement award.
It would not, perhaps, be too much of an exaggeration to say that despite his success as both artist and teacher, Kalaš still remains, to a certain extent, a polarizing figure: his work is either seen as fascinating, which is more or less attributable to his invention of the painting machine and a sui generis technique named aerography (and undoubtedly marked by the spirit of the times in which it was born); or it provokes reservations, since the artist’s hand, even if the machine still allows, even calls for certain interventions, has in the eyes of some lost a certain artistic or creative authenticity. Yet all of these reservations revolve around an artist that is actually utterly dedicated to the grand historical tradition of Western painting (or of creating images from the Renaissance onwards). They therefore involve an artist that at first glance might seem unusually attached to the (realistic) image as such – something that can also provoke either astonishment or reluctance. Have we not already surpassed, transcended this very issue many times over – with modernism perhaps? And how about our contemporary capitalist tradition, this flood of images, where the object, sold to us through images, does not even appear to matter anymore, or is replaced by the commodification of experience? To continue, if we take into account certain theories, which elaborate on the question of prosthesis, accessories and substitutes, then the problem with which the painting machine confronts us (if indeed we even notice it) is not only pertinent, but is also in the domain that points to the natural unnaturalness of human nature – a chilling one and one open to justified generalization. What if the supposed “authenticity” of the hand, which makes of itself a brush and then rises to express itself in whichever way, is already marked by something “inauthentic”? The denaturation (of the machine-as-brush) is therefore much more natural than we might dare think.
Marko Jenko, PhD, exhibition curator
BOGOSLAV KALAŠ'S STATEMENT
“Whether a modern artist is aware of it or not, if it remains buried in his subconscious, a powerful voice is ringing out from inside him: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Therefore, a work of art is only justifiable if it has some moral, social, or humanitarian significance. Thus, as a rule, a work of art is not the final objective of an artist’s creative process. It is produced to awaken the observer’s sensitivity to the dilemmas of contemporary society, and to spotlight all that is important to the artist and what he feels a conscious, modern-day person should not be obliviously indifferent to. A modern artist champions political justice and political correctness. Beauty is not valued today the same way it was in traditional art. For the most part it is even undesirable, and frequently equated with temptation, deception, and seduction. A modern artist does not strive to make a work of art, but focuses on a variety of projects and actions.
A traditional artist starts from the conviction that the image is good and worthy of depicting, since it is a reflection of reality. What is beautiful and harmonious is exalted, and therefore the artist’s true objective. The roots of such an understanding of or approach to art stretch back to Hellenism, or to the Classical era, and to humanism. The temple of Apollo at Delphi had the inscription GNOTHI SEAUTON or KNOW THYSELF carved into it. Were we to try and expand on that, we might add: for the whole world is hidden within you. For this reason everything an artist believes in, coupled with his life experiences, shapes his artistic beliefs, his credo, which is the one constant in everything he does. He directs the entirety of his knowledge toward the making of a work of art, which is his ultimate objective. The fundamental question he is eternally concerned with answering through his art is the deeper meaning of human existence.”
Bogoslav Kalaš, artist
Bogoslav Kalaš was born on 30 October 1942 in Ljubljana, where he graduated from the Technical Engineering School in 1962. He went on to study painting under Professors Marij Pregelj, France Mihelič, and Gabrijel Stupica at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana (1962–1966), and later completed postgraduate studies in painting there under Professor Maksim Sedej (1968).
His studies completed, he went to work as an art teacher, taking his first position at the Šentvid pri Stični elementary school (1968–1970). In 1970 he was granted the status of a freelance artist, additionally teaching descriptive geometry part time at the Technical Engineering School in Ljubljana. In 1974 he took the post of art teacher at the Elementary School of Adolf Jakhel in Zalog (Ljubljana), working there until he became employed full-time at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana in the academic year 1982/83 (having previously served there as a non-tenured Associate Professor of drawing and painting since 1979). He continued to work at the Academy until his retirement in 2009. In addition to teaching anatomy in art and spatial design he also served as dean between 1983 and 1987 and again between 1998 and 2005.
Worthy of note in the creative part of Kalaš’s biography is the fact that he developed his own painting procedure or technique, which he calls aerography and has been continuously developing since 1971, with a view to solving certain issues connected with the painting process. The technique is based on the principle of transferring a motif (a photograph taken by him) onto a new support (canvas, paper, etc.) with a mechanical device (painting machine) and paints. Another thing that stands out is his association since the late 1980s with the visual art group IRWIN, in the projects or works Slovenian Athens 1983–1987 (1987), L’État (a portrait of IRWIN, 1988 and 1990), and Was ist Kunst Slovenia (2000).
Kalaš’s career as an artist stretches over decades: he has been exhibiting since 1966, though not particularly frequently. He had his first solo show at the Concert Studio of the Association of Slovene Composers in 1972 in Ljubljana, and an extensive retrospective exhibition in 1996 at the City Art Gallery Ljubljana. His technique and his explicitly traditional motifs (nude, still life, landscape, portrait, and genre in the narrow sense of the word) meant that his work was not particularly topical for some time, which made his group exhibitions relatively few; curators have only started including Kalaš’s works in group shows (e.g., themed or survey exhibitions of Slovene art) with more frequency in the new millennium.
In 2006 he received the Rihard Jakopič Award for his oeuvre. He lives and works in Radomlje (near Domžale).
The exhibition is supported by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.