Art from 1930s put on show in Ljubljana

Ljubljana – An exhibition featuring 14 artists associated in the Independent Group of Slovenian Artists, whose work makes an important part of the 20th-century Slovenian fine art, will open at the Cankarjev Dom arts centre on Wednesday evening. Outside the Frame brings 70 paintings and sculptures and documentary material, running until 2 October.

This group of artists were starting their professional careers in the harsh political and economic situation of the 1930s in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

After WWII, the Independents became first professors at the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts, after they studied at academies in Zagreb and Prague.

Among them are some of the greats such as Zoran Mušič, Marij Pregelj, France Mihelič, Nikolaj Omersa, France Pavlovec, Nikolaj Pirnat, Karel Putrih and Maksim Sedej.

Their art stood out from the rest of artistic production in the 1930s signalling an important break with established art trends but their rise was suspended by WWII.

One of them, Nikolaj Pirnat (1903-1948), once said: “We’re a mirror of the times, look at yourself in us!”

One of the topics they were concerned with was “the question of national artistic expression”, Cankarjev Dom said as it announced the display.

At their exhibitions, some of what have become to be the most iconic Slovenian works of art were put on show for the first time.

Apart from organising exhibitions, the group fought for the rights of artists, as well as for the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art and the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, promoted purchases of works of art, wrote about art in newspapers and magazines, and planned study trips.

Many of the works at the exhibition at Cankarjev Dom will be put on show for the first time after they were made some 80 years ago.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Božidar Jakac Gallery from Kostanjevica na Krki, while the works have also been borrowed from a number of other Slovenian museums and galleries, the National Museum of Modern Art in Croatia and many private collections.

The show, curated by Asta Vrečko, will be accompanied by a series of events to present the social and cultural situation in the 1930s and the first half of the 1940s, focussing on Ljubljana and ties with other centres such as Zagreb, Maribor, Ptuj and Celje, where the artists worked.