the study of revolution

(The) Study of Revolution

Rene Bachrach Krištofić is one of Croatian young figurative artists whose works continue to surprise us with its potential. New thematic cycle The Study of Revolution is in part a sequel of his last cycle Protest of Utopia in which the subjects of his explorations are social phenomena such as protests and demonstrations and their persistence in the collective mind. He is simultaneously interested in examining his sense of being and isolation in the contemporary society.

In a carefully built narrative style, Krištofić creates a new series of acrylic paintings and drawings that deal more directly with the mechanisms of totalitarian regimes and social and art revolutions, while never entering the sphere of socially engaged art.  A comprehensive artistic Study of revolution emerges at the turn of this year. It is a pseudoscientific art experiment in which, by appropriation or in Rene's words „by a direct physical transfer“ of certain avant-garde and emblematic symbols and ideas onto the protagonists and by testing it in fictional laboratories, seeks out to reconstruct their function and effects.
The research starts with 1968, the year that “rocked the whole world“[1], marked with numerous student protests, general strikes and school and factory occupations in France, but also all through Europe. These events introduced serious social changes, some of which are today a part of our daily life.  Attesting to that there are slogans and inscriptions such as „“Mai 68, “, "Il est interdit d'interdire" (It  is forbidden to forbid) or "Élections, piège à con"  (Elections are idiot traps) or "Cela nous concerne tous" (This concerns us all) tattooed on the bodies of the characters or  written on the objects of Krištofić's, sometimes, obscure compositions. Several drawings, in pencil and acrylic, present pale mise en scène of science laboratories of revolutionary discoveries, in grayish tones of a blurry Richter’s effect. (Test, Test 4-6, Test 1968, Test Gezi Park, Projection).This process Krištofić uses in his last cycle to accomplish the imagery alike to those of a faded photograph, in which the memories of past events, are slowly losing focus in our consciousness. Monuments to the People's Liberation War such as Dotrščina by Vojin Bakić or Jasenovac by Bogdan Bogdanović, in some of Krištofić's works are being treated as laboratory specimens, stigmas and relics of a past time. In a similar manner he examines familiar symbols of suprematism of Kazimir Maljevič: Black square, White on white. In doing so, he uses a whole repertoire of signs taken from Maljevič's unfinished abstract screenplay and preparatory sketches for his experimental art film. Maragrita Tupitsyn's essay and exhibition catalogue Maljevič and film sets the painting Black square as one of the key contributions of avant-garde art in the development of film and photography as a bridge between the medium of painting and mechanically generated painting production[2].
It is not surprising that one of Krištofić's works Reconstruction of Einstein carries in itself strong references to the legendary Russian director and the pioneer of film editing.
The theme of art and social revolutions, repression, freedom of speech and thought Krištofić processes without pretensions on getting a concrete answer, given that the result of the study is not as important as the process itself. By branding or earmarking his characters as though as he is trying to name and demystify certain symbols and taboos and give them a new meaning. On a series of painting Transfer or Transfer of protest or Transfer of suprematism (Prenošenje ili Prenošenje prosvjeda ili Prenošenje suprematizma ) Krištofić tattoos inscriptions and symbols as to determine the effect they would have on the figures. Very frequently the author encompasses himself and his intimate preoccupations in this semantic ritual. In a similar fashion there are the works of a Hungarian artist with Moldova[3] origins Alexander Tinei, which in the style of a traditional academic praxis transfers segments of a somewhat disturbed content of a new „alternative world“, of the reality of cyberspace onto the painters canvas forming almost bloodless figures marked with blue lines that, at moments, take the form of a tattoo and represent „marks of alienation“.
In approaching each motif as in the treatment of light and the background of paintings Krištofić recalls the atmosphere of old Dutch and Flemish masters from the 17 and 18 century, who he has studied during the course of his academic schooling. Krištofić’s    characters are static and lacking almost any emotion and individuality because the painter treats them as still life; as the object of his study. They are almost always portrayed in foreground while the ambient he places them in is usually neutral, undefined and sometimes of a supernatural atmosphere like the ones seen in dystopian films. On dark or grayishly green uniform backgrounds, a heirloom received from great chiaroscuro painters, he forms figures, half-figures or striking details and each object represents a certain idea which seems as though it emerges from somebody’s recollection. Similar process can be observed within the works of Belgian painter Michaël Borremans who creates surreal compositions directed at the „victims of their own situations“[4] frozen in unusual and illogic poses and closed in odd frameworks.

Dramatic newspaper articles and TV reports on riots in Turkey, Ukraine and Syria are an inspiration and a starting point for a few works with shocking themes. They contain the images of today’s turbulent political situation in a series of presentations that resemble documentary film form. They are taken up in the form of a symbol or a fragment and were tested on big canvases: from the captured moment of individual resistance with recognizable demonstration iconography, scenes of hurt protesters, innocent victims of regimes and ideologies to groups such as subversive Pussy Riot or even Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. English artist Justin Mortimer builds his horrific and complex depictions of gigantic proportions in a similar manner, by a montage of mass execution scenes from not distant „photo reports from the war in Croatia“[5]  but also with other suggestive imagery of recent conflict issues in Russia and the Middle East. In this chain of memories one can sense a strong influence of the media –photographs, TV, film and in the end computers; or respectively  of using those processes of transferring an image information that are at the disposal to young artists in today’s globalized world. They equally resort to Velàzquez, Rembrandt and other great masters of a rich painting tradition just as to new technological achievements. These intermedia experiences are often used as methods in finding new repertoires of motifs and forms typical to postmodern culture, on which our visual communication is based. Krištofić uses the imagery of mass media in an adroit and unique manner narratively building it within his creative work. Krištofić’s meticulous approach to each artistic issue is one of his main attributes that rightfully puts him on a prominent position on Croatia’s art scene which has lately shown signs of great vitality and creativity.

[1] Mark Kurlansky, 1968, godina koja je uzdrmala cijeli svijet (1968:The year the rocked the world), Naklada Ljavak, 2007
[2] Margarita Tupitsyn, Malevich and Film, Yale University Press, 2002
[3] Vitamnine P2, New Perspectives in Painting, Phaidom, 2012, pg 294
[4] Ibidem, pg 50
[5] Ibidem, pg 218