Marijan Špoljar review

First of: a painting exists as an objective fact, a painting is a registration of still scenery or – rather – a truthful depiction of a known or lesser known townscape. This is the base criterion from which every reflection upon the works of Dražen Eisenbeisser must begin and the most important setting of his positioning. Yet here at the mere beginning arises the first separation: if we focus on only one aspect I fear that the second – more important – aspect will remain completely unrecognized or recognized only in its superficial elements. Namely almost all indicates to a neutral, completely objective and to the mark faithful registrations of motifs so one does not have to have an exquisite eye to (falsely) conclude that the authors intention is limited by a low tier painters ambition. Which it may be, one might think, on one hand a passionate desire to mark the actual state and thereby creating a permanent document of the contemporary time, removing it from the temporal process, the painting in a way preserving in its objective, visually based facts, values. And it probably is like that, if it was not the author would hardly include the whole apparatus of visual markings and the procedure to register the whole scene to its miniscule details. However, like in literature exists the art of observation and the interpretative ability to emanate a simple description of a unsuspected beauty of experiences this is how in the art of painting exists the added value which sometimes is seemingly acquired from the simple, dry, illustrative approach of recording a scene. The tier of worth can be increased by the degree and quality of the authors connection to the motif, hence, the emotional and empathic charge, however if we do not recognize the authors abundance of the creative charge by which the quality of works is measured it will only be the revealing of the outer, the superficial layer and not the protrusion into the “depth” of the scenery, below its inaugural veil. It will be, as we already once, on occasions of some of the authors earlier works, interpreted as technically perfect, documentary valuable, scholastically effective and experientially affective, yet still primary as the rational transpose and not a subjective interpretation.
  In the cycle «Ruševine» («Ruins»), which Eisenbeisser displays on the Koprivnica exhibition, the subject-matter of the authors interest is not anymore the old, sometimes derelict, but yet the representative and symbolically most important parts of towns which were once in the authors center of attention. Most of the drawings were the vedute of Koprivnica, buildings and locations of town squares, depicted from the aspect of the pedestrian and the purview of the observer who stays away from the unsightly, unknown details. All, meanwhile, indicated since long that the painters interest would gradually shift from the touristic itinerary to lesser lit locations, to places and buildings which are not the trademarks of the city. Even, to reverse buildings, the parts which in many, even in big cities we know as damp and shabby back sides of polished facades of squares. Whilst, these unsightly, devastated and dilapidated parts came into the middle of the painters interest because they were visually, pictorial intriguing, the newest series – except plastic reasons – it contains dimensions which are not only graphic art. It is a series of large, chalk drawn works on paper, completely focused on recording ruins and anonymous, forgotten, mostly rural houses, overgrown, impossible for adaptation and unready for demolition.
  And so last the once living and joyful houses which «winds, rains, snows, people and animals destroyed and tore asunder» and in which «remained an arbitrary oak beam»  and from which «sporuted wild grass and grew thistle and bur » and where reigned «complete darkness, in which blind mice nested», last as bitter symbols of destroyed lives, evaporated hopes, long gone people. Like in a story from Andrić, from where these quotations were taken,  with Eisenbeisser what once was is more important than what is, which floats as a ghost over these forgotten places rather than the construction state, swept time rather than the lamentation of the current state, melancholy rather than a statistical note in urban black smudges. The emphasis, therefore, is on the painters metaphor of our transience, of an elegiac registration of eternal change, an etude about loneliness, and it may well be these ruins speak of the ruins of the spirit. In us, in the society, in the civilization we live in. In this sense these precise, text book correct, disciplined and neutrally cold observations speak more than the emphatic gesture, the raised voice, the uncontrolled scream, the engaged wail. They speak with a silence which compromises partly the beauty and despair of the world of which poets and painters, visionaries of the soul are known to speak of.
Marijan Špoljar