Cultural environments--boasting a vast artistic heritage and peculiar ways of living--continue to shape the values and principles that drive the codes of artistic expression. Venice, undoubtedly one of the core centres of European culture--has been paving the way and setting the paradigms for global art movements with its Biennale ever since 1895. Also, the role of its Fine Arts Academy should not be neglected, as its students are being led to making autonomous choices free from stern formalities thus allowing them to develop their ideas according to their own beliefs and visions.
Klemen Brun studied art in Gorizia and Venice, which a priori puts him outside the boundaries of the 'Ljubljana school'. Not burdened by typical Slovenian existential issues, he prefers cocentrating on contemporary matters, as proven also by his interest in analysing the relations between art and technology, while illustrating the position of individuals in today's society and the interactive processes stemming from rapid changes in our everyday life. In this sense, he went to articulate his visual statements that included a substantial upgrading of his images already in their formal structure, although their meaning could only be grasped by observing every element of the particular painting and their interactions. An important distinguishing factor of his creative process was the tangible materiality of the picture surface, so that the empirical aspects of reality were turning into objects of knowledge and thus blending physical effort and mental constructs into a final single communication unit. Each of his creations was based on a counterpoint between the pictorial content in its purest sense and the conceptual substance lying below it and generated complex, multi-layered visual entities that addressed the viewers with a range of recognisable meanings conveyed by carefully crafted syntactic structures.
The works selected for this exhibition are opening up a whole new set of questions, which Brun tackles after having thoroughly weighted his previous work and boldly decided to relinquish all trace of continuity with his past achievements. He has decided to focus on drawing, not that much from the technical point of view t, but more as a new concept, the primary drive that generates every piece of art. It is this urge that makes drawing the most intimate, most primordial form of art and the most direct way of translating thoughts into images. Mastering the free-hand drawing from a model is the foundation of all subsequent studies, the introduction to anatomy, perspective and composition rules, the fundamental grammar of visual arts that is essential to forming meaningful statements. The study of colours and the laws of chromatic harmony only come at the next stage and once an artist masters both, it is only up to his ingenuity and imagination to use all the tools available in order to achieve his goals. Ultimately, the artist may even relinquish the rules and start from scratch, choose another medium or a combination of a series of alternative approaches, which are all legitimate nowadays; while still half a century ago nobody was prepared to take them seriously. The primacy of drawing bears considerable relevance in sculpture and architecture, although with a different function and effects: it often implies creation ex nihilo, a form to be invented with no equivalent in the empirical world but an annunciation of an object yet to be made.
With his series of drawings of human figures (although there are drawings of animals, as well) Klemen Brun is returning to the origins, the primary concepts brilliantly analysed by Leonardo da Vinci in his Treatise on Painting, a collection of notes gathered over at least three decades. The famous Renaissance genius wrote notes and sketches about everything that caught his interest, while giving instructions to painters about what they needed to learn to excel at their profession. The most important aspect here is that every experience is individual, a realisation of subjective will and desire to learn beyond the instructions given by teachers and role models. Brun's decision, therefore, does not come as a surprise, what is new, however, and surprising (for the viewers, as well) is the fact that he decided to go back to the origins, to the original self-questioning about his work and the underlying reasons for that. In a time where the 'anything goes' seems to be the primary rule, there is a strong need for such reflexion, as it may have a cathartic effect, which could, potentially, shed light on the status of artworks on their way from production to distribution. As other picture supports--projection screens, videos and computer monitors, not to even mention the different ways of fixing and distributing photographs--are often offered as an alternative or a substitute for traditional media, such as drawings and paintings, the decision to use a traditional support combined with a suitable technique poses a challenge to the artist and his public, as it presents classical contents and form, proving at the same time that the issue has never become obsolete or irrelevant. Brun's drawings clearly prove that the artist has approached this particular technique with all due seriousness and responsibility, considering the expressive force of lines and the suggestive clout of modelling, which transforms contours into bodies and creates the illusion of space on a plane, and all of it in black and white with seldom a note of colour. Namely, colour is only a subsequent stage in constructing images and the chromatic principles are a science apart, established by a range of historic styles up to all the variations and conceptual definitions finally analysed by modernism and the avant-garde. This is exactly the reason, for which we have emphasised drawing here, as Klemen Brun did, while all the other elements of an artwork, including iconography, could be discussed on another occasion.