RIHARD JAKOPIČ UP CLOSE
Old damage – New Solutions
Moderna galerija has long collaborated with the Department of Restoration of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana on several projects involving young future professionals, who join in the research, diagnostics, documentation, restoration treatment and preventive conservation aspects of the projects as well as in preparing educational materials for the general public.
To mark this year’s presentation of the Rihard Jakopič Awards, the most prestigious art prize in Slovenia, we are organizing a Rihard Jakopič Week, part of which is also the inauguration of the Rihard Jakopič up Close exhibition, which presents rarely seen or touched artworks from the Moderna galerija storage and related conservation-restoration practices to the widest possible audience, including vulnerable groups such as the blind and partially sighted.
The paintings on display have been kept in storage for years due to (more or less) extensive damage. The reasons for this lie, first and foremost, in the time of their making – between 1900 and 1924, when Jakopič typically used inferior supports (such as thin coarse canvas or jute), treated them with glue only slightly, did not line them, and applied impasto layers of oil paint which he did not varnish – and in the various subsequent (early restorers’) attempts at consolidating and lining the paintings as the paint layers began to crack and fall off. Many such procedures seem unsuitable from today’s perspective. The exhibition puts on view both the shortcomings of the old ways of saving paintings on canvas and today's solutions through the exhibited items – some already restored, others still undergoing treatment – and photographs, videos and technological studies.
To bring works of art and our conservation-restoration work closer to the widest possible audience and give them an opportunity to actually handle some of the materials, the exhibition includes technological copies of details of selected paintings and technological presentations of different methods of lining supports.
Related to our project is a three-month student innovative project for social benefit (ŠIPK) Feel the Art. The title has a double meaning, referring both to the touch and the emotional perception of art. Models of the chosen work of art were prepared on several levels – as a “map” of different shapes included in the composition of the artwork, as details, and as a model of the motif. The smell of wool and dried grass, the sound of sheep bleating and the accompanying storytelling complement the touch and the overall perception of the artwork.
The opening of the exhibition marks the beginning of the 13th Conservation-Restoration Transversal, which runs until November and highlights through various activities the efforts of all involved in the protection and preservation of our cultural heritage.