Expo Art critic

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” by Banksy

Though it may seem that visual arts are losing their noble quest and their status that they are pushed to the margins of our lives, and that they are literally drowning in the flood of visual imagery and events that try to persuade us with visual effects, we must nonetheless confess that they have become an integral and, for some, even an essential part of our lives.

Even more, luck has been on the side of art in 2017. Several important events are taking place in our surroundings, such as The Venice Biennale, Documenta 14 in Kassel, Sculpture projects in Münster, just to name a few of the most exposed. However, the artistic events characterized by creating surplus value are not only to be found in the neighbouring European countries – in this year one of them will also take place in Slovenia. The Art Expo an art fair where works of art and their creators are represented, an event that will be held for the first time, but is already placed among other important manifestations of visual art and visual culture as well as culture in a broad sense. The Venice Biennale is an important visual arts event that enriches artistic and historical wealth of the City of Water every two years. In this year, its 57th edition is taking place and some Slovenian artists are also taking part in it. Documenta that has been held in Kassel every five years since 1955 is one of the most respected exhibitions of the modern art.

Sculpture projects Münster is the famous exhibition that has drawn artists from all-over the world since 1977 and enabled them to create in public places. The Art Expo is another highly anticipated event of 2017 – the event we could only dream of, or hope silently that it would, one day, take place. The AAMI Institute is changing ideas, dreams, expectations, longings, and visions into reality. All this is done with courage and determination, with a clear and strong concept. In one single place, the individuals with visible artistic potentials and their creations, authors of different generations, origins and manners of expression and nationalities will be represented. These fourteen days of the Art Expo will be full with art, creativity and multi-layered cultural events. All that was created in the intimacy of the studios and in various idea incubators, in places of development and realization, will be put on display for the connoisseurs and art lovers, for those who find value in admiring works of art, as well as for those who are willing to “adopt” them and see in them a business opportunity. In one place, it will be possible to gain an insight into the current visual-creative production, into varied artistic practices, into multimedia visual spheres. Though the concept of the event is a very broad one, it also enables an individual to not get lost in it. The representational fields, characterized by the fluidity of their genres, coexist in harmony and gain an even deeper meaning in the context of related disciplines. Every author has their own representational space and everyone is an indispensable part of the varied whole. Everyone reveals their own creative identity, their own style of expression and through that also their visions, ways of experiencing, ways of feeling, reflecting, all that which is the most intimate, the most private. It is the artistic conglomerate that enables everyone to be visible.

It seems that art has never been as varied, as full of artistic surpluses and also as unconventional as it is in the present moment. Right now, there is no prevalent style, everything is possible and (almost) everything is allowed. Artistic paths of interpretation are open wide. Perhaps this is the reason, why it is so difficult to keep abreast of all the developments in art and why it is so hard to understand it. Events such as the Art Expo, bring art closer to the people, make its perception easier and contribute to the insight into this enigmatic, never-fully-explored field of creativity. Most definitely, a meeting between art and its audience is something that must happen. The Art Expo event enables us to act globally in the field of visual arts, to become integrated as a part of the European and international activities and to enable the presentation of our artefacts and to establish their circulation. Meanwhile, we would like to highlight the individuals, the artists whose creativity surpasses the sense of anaemic lack of power and reveals strength, specificity and intimism of their creative character. The rules in art are completely different. There is no space for a unified, globalised orientation.

Art in the sense of the highest form of culture has preserved our nation throughout its turbulent history and strengthened its identity. The Art Expo event gives us an opportunity to receive attention from abroad and to show our extraordinary artistic potential in one place. The role of art is to magically intervene in our lives, to break boundaries, to convince and to connect through its universally understood language. This is what makes it a road to a multitude of goals that goes to the centre and to the very top of everything. It represents a possibility as well as an opportunity. This is the way that the individuals who formed the Art Expo perceive art. We dare say that the Art Expo represents a breakthrough among the most visible and best-established artistic events. Through the Art Expo artists are able to gain attention and demonstrate the importance of their roles and meaning of their work. Visual goods are easily accessible nowadays and the computer screens and the web enable us to see many a piece of art. However, all of these new possibilities cannot compare to a direct contact with a work of art. What counts, is seeing the object with a naked eye, the experience of a visual vitality that every molecule of the visual structure is brimming with. Mysterious details and micro structures, enigmatic stories, all of these can only be perceived when our eyes touch the artefact directly, and this experience is even more complete when we have a chance to meet the artist. The Art Expo is an opportunity and a chance for all of this. It is all too rare that we show some pride in our achievements or give praise, but AAMI Institute that gave birth to this idea undoubtedly deserves a big compliment. They carefully nourished their idea and grew through it and finally developed it to make its first step and to become the biggest cultural event in Slovenia and to be placed among the similar European and worldly artistic events.

Most definitely the project team does not rest on their laurels. They have a strong drive to achieve, reach into the future, and they are making deliberate moves for tomorrow in the field of contemporary visual arts. The concept of presentation of art works at the art fair is clear and sound but it is only with the change in the mind-set of the artistic community, as well as of the broad society, that it will gain the necessary life force and vitality for its further growth. I hope and I believe that the very first and true shift has already been made. To really feel alive, we are forced to go beyond our limits. We must set ourselves free from the narrow-mindedness, the sense of restlessness, and discover a new world and become its integral part. The Art Expo project is an excellent opportunity to promote artistic creativity and, in a broader sense, our country as well. It is also the only event of this kind in Slovenia. It is an event that has to be documented and leave its traces in time and space, while at the same time its task is to document the developments, to reach into the future and to establish a new tradition. There is a first time for everything, – and if we take Venice Biennale, it took it several years to develop into this much-anticipated event that it is today. May the ART EXPO become the future and through that also a part of the tradition, may it enrich our existence and cultural life. For long years we have been longing for and expecting such types of events. May “Viva Arte Viva” be echoed from the “City of Lagoons” to our “City of Art” and may these words be exclaimed also in our country.

Anamarija Stibilj Šajn
art historian and art critic