14.06.2019. - 13.07.2019.

Paradigms of Animation

Draško Ivezić, Chintis Lundgren, Martina Meštrović, Jelena Oroz, Veljko Popović, Tanja Vujasinović

Special guests: Vasko Lipovac i Marija Ujević Galetović

Special projection of "Loving Vincent" by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

Curator: Marta Kiš in collaboration with Iva Gašparović and Tanja Masnec Šoškić

Despite the claims of some theorists that animated films can be logically classified as fine art,[1] that connection is often absent from curating and gallery practice. As early as 2008, Hrvoje Turković asserted that, despite the quality of production, theoretical and critical works on animation were extremely rare. Lead by our own interest, the remarkable complexity of contemporary animation techniques and the obligation that we have as art historians, especially in the context of Croatian history of animation, we need to change this fact. The exhibited works are selected from the films produced in the last two years and point to the driving paragons, inspirations or examples which precede their creation: the connection between the world of animation and that of fine art as they are clearly inspired by works of other artists that define the film's stylistic development (Cyclists), documentary approach and depending on artworks to develop one's own director's story (A cat is always female) and independent stylistic direction that we can follow based on the development of pre-production phases. In addition to domestic films, there is one emblematic example of foreign production from 2017, but we will have to wait for the development and funding of arts and cultural programmes within which we operate in order to view its original content.

Loving Vincent is the first feature-length animated movie created in its entirety from hand-drawn images, oil painting, that took the work and life of Vincent van Gogh as its artistic and biographical starting point. Let us look at the numbers: more than a hundred selected artists from all over the world who painted 65 000 images worked on the film, dedicating a great deal of time to its handcrafting. The production process was multi-layered: from filming van Gogh's actual works which were often superposed because of the nature of the cinematic format, over filming scenes with actors which were later painted and digitally processed, to painting entirely new works based on documents and photographs from the period they present – these are most often black-and-white moments that transport us back in time. The inspiration and use of original van Gogh's works and painting every frame in his idiosyncratic style and technique emphasize fine art as the origin point of animated films.

Veljko Popović's award-winning film Cyclists is similar in that sense, taking Vasko Lipovac’s oeuvre as its paradigm. The film is built on citing the original. The landscapes and depictions of places are evocative of Lipovac's Boka. The protagonists from his paintings – from the leading ones, as the Mrs. and her captain around whom the plot revolves, over side characters such as athletes and weightlifters on the beach, to cyclists who are the titular characters – populate the film. Distinctively vivid colours and voluminous, rounded shapes follow the style of the original artwork and are complemented by the imagery used to construct the film’s narrative. The success of the film lies exactly in the synergy between directly citing and complementing the static original thus embodying its atmosphere. The complemented landscapes, sounds and music that alternate between the scenes, pronounced eroticism and the inescapable humour evoke the character of Vasko Lipovac. The film's development and the success of the final work can be traced through various segments: the original Lipovac, the development of certain scenes and animation.

A cat is always female is a recently completed film by Martina Meštrović and Tanja Vujasinović, created by examining the influence that their former professor Marija Ujević Galetović had on their work and beliefs. Publicized as an animated documentary film about the sculptor, it reveals the preoccupations and perspectives of the two directors via its composition and selection of topics. The story told through selected segments of hours-long interviews revolves around the sculptor's decidedly feminist, although never publicly expressed, opinions. The comparison with the previous generation of women and the (im)possibility to become realized within a patriarchal society, exemplified by Marija Ujević Galetović's professional development – from a student to the first woman to teach at the Department of Sculpture – show how the institutions, as well as society, are resistant to change. The material that rhythmically alternates between the recorded footage and animation, sculpture and drawing and Marija's narrative voice and background music have woven a story about three authors through a personal but also critical dimension. In addition to Marija Ujević Galetović's sculpture, the cut-outs from the raw material that have not been used in the final version are also included in the exhibition thereby drawing attention to the lengthy creative process where a large part of the work remains invisible.

Jelena Oroz's Two for Two and Chintis Lundgren and Draško Ivezić's Manivald are not directly based on another artist's, that is, author's work. Both films deal with very personal themes of close, damaged emotional relationships, but the ways they achieve this are entirely different. By observing the design, character and style development of Jelena Oroz you can trace how she manages to convey a clearer message through simplifying the characters and balancing the backgrounds. These 2D characters and muted pastel colours and backgrounds without many details, in addition to sound and screenplay sequences, emphasize the plot and evoke a feeling of two people who were together but parted ways. The animation in Manivald is simple, while shades of red, brown and grey dominate the neutral backgrounds. However, the film is rich in details which provide character to anthropomorphic figures, while plot twists and outlandish elements (the band with the so-called absinth bunnies) add a humorous note, despite its serious theme. The drawings accompanying the film – storyboard development, the drawings that flesh out the characters and unfold the plot, but which did not find their way into the film (e.g., Manivald's failed suicide attempt by hanging himself on socks) – are just a tiny part of the material necessary to create a short animated film. While developing a series on Manivald, the authors also flesh out other characters who intertwine thus giving rise to new works and, along with these sketches, provide insight into the creative processes.

Aspiring to contribute to the professional evaluation of animated films within visual theories, the fine arts segment present in animation has been emphasized. However, we should keep in mind that animated films are an assembly of various art disciplines and that the collaboration between the arts is one of the most important characteristics of this art, the art of animated images. The development and analysis of certain segments in an animated film help us question the existing paradigms while providing a new and richer experience of seeing them on a big screen. (Marta Kiš)

[1]Turković, H., 55/2008. Je li animirani film uopće — film?. Hrvatski filmski ljetopis, pp. 6-18.

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The exhibition is co-financed by the Croatian Film Director's Association and the Croatian Audiovisual Center (HAVC)

The program of Galženica Gallery is supported by the City of Velika Gorica, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and the Zagreb's County.