ECCE HOMO, Alkatraz Gallery, Ljubljana, september 2015
Nataša Tajnik Stupar is one of the artists who found a place for her studio here already as a student at the beginning of the time when the identity of the Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre was being built. For several years she was actively co-designing artistic activities on the ground of Metelkova. Additionally, she was one of the initiators of the idea to found the Alkatraz Gallery (1997), and ran the place in the spirit of an artist-run space together with Boštjan Drinovec in the first few years of the gallery.
Nataša Tajnik Stupar is now, as an artist, after more than a decade, with the exhibition ECCE HOMO, returning to the space from the beginning of her artistic career. Ecce homo is one of the most spread motifs in the history of fine art, which emerged already in the period between the 9th and 10th century. The phrase “Ecce homo” i.e. “Behold the man!” were the words of Pontius Pilate, when he brought Jesus Christ, crowned with a crown of thorns and already whipped, before hostile and savage mob. In a more contemporary era, especially in the 19th and 20th century, when the sacred motifs stopped appearing in art, there were artists who connected the motif with the suffering and humiliation of the people in wars and other exploitable and suppressive situations. Nataša Tajnik Stupar is also one of the artists who employed the very same title for her solo painting exhibition at the Alkatraz Gallery. Like others, she is more than in the historical depiction of the motif, interested in its content.
The artist is constructing painterly spaces with the aid of lines, colours and inputs of contemporary visual images. The line itself is more expressed, but the entire painterly plain is compact and balanced, which hints at a sensitive relation toward the painterly surface and compositional given facts. The structure of the painterly surface determines the arrangement and the ratio of the singular elements of the painting. In fine arts, the structure of a painterly surface is the method according to which the entirety of a painting is being built, which, formed by connecting of its parts, unveils the visible processes in the creation of an artwork. From Modernism onwards, while observing artworks, it is not only the painting’s surface that is being observed. An artwork is placed into a wider context that encompasses the multilayeredness of observation. The layers of observation of a 2D surface open up several spatial options, which are structured and direct the viewer’s look. Painterly interventions are shattering the determination of the painting, emphasizing the component of spontaneity and ungraspabness, with Nataša Tajnik Stupar manifested in the appearance, in the Other, the undefined. Within itself, Visual metaphor, concealing within itself a hidden richness of intimate subjective views and lived moments. Should we give in to these moments, a door to an intimate world opens to us – a world in which banalities of the everyday are no longer important; the time is ticking away in a different manner and the world before us assumes a new sense.
The artist’s paintings are like notes of everyday life and confrontations with the thoughts, emotions and feelings, stemming from an unobstructed experience of reality. The viewer who can read them like diary entries, stories, personal statements, taking stands, feelings and as the artist’s relation toward space and time. The works unite autonomous painterly integrities, inside which there are opening “real” spaces, arising from inner impulses of the author, which are not something coincidental or impulsive, but thoughtfully planned strokes and forms in which experiences of the human essence are hidden. At the beginning of his book The Plague of Fantasies, Slavoj Žižek wrote that the world of material exterior is usually all the time an un-hidden reflection of »an unconscious outer«. In the very same manner the painter is breaking the membrane between the inner and the outer comprehension of the real.
While considering the actuality of painting, there are always arising new questions and those who remain open. In the quest for answers to those questions we get a feeling that a contemporary artist finds it very hard to confront with the reasons for the existence of classic painterly approaches and techniques in the present time and space. And it is exactly here that Nataša Tajnik Stupar is offering us a convincing observation of the painter’s inner feelings and her or his personal relation to the world.