Works by almost 60 Slovenian female artists on display at Cukrarna

Ljubljana – The Cukrarna Gallery will host an exhibition of works by almost 60 women artists, all either Slovenian or working in Slovenia, from the 1990s to the present day in a highlight of this year’s programme. Opening tonight, Returning the Gaze deals with different social topics and presents various artist approaches.

The group exhibition offers an extensive selection of paintings, sculptures, videos, performances, interventions and audio events, as well as an accompanying programme of presentations, film screenings, lectures and discussions; the aim being to shed light on aspects of the Slovenian art scene by creating dialogical relationships between the works of artists from different generations, all using different media, practices and approaches, Cukrarna says on its website.

Blaž Peršin, the head of the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana, which manages Cukrarna, told the press today that the artists presented had become a constitutive element of Slovenian contemporary art. He said he was glad that the exhibition and the diverse accompanying events would offer an insight into Slovenian contemporary art, not only that created by women.

The artists presented had to overcome many obstacles to “find their place in the sun and they have not only found it but literately owned it”, he said.

According to Alenka Gregorič, one of the four curators of the exhibition, artists who live and work in Slovenia are being presented as well as those who have left Slovenia but have been marked by the country. More than 150 artists were discussed and in the end works by almost 60 were picked, including some who are no longer active but their works were either characteristic of a particular period or groundbreaking in their approach or execution.

Some of them focus on specific social themes, such as issues of identity, gender and feminism and the way women artists are represented in the art system. Special attention has been paid to the artists who have consistently adhered to a particular style of expression, approach, form or concept.

The curators have identified four main themes: urban and natural landscapes; the body or figure; the art system; and the socio-political environment.

The accompanying programme will start in April and last until the exhibition closes on 21 August.

According to Cukrarna’s website, the title of the exhibition alludes to the “eternal question of who is doing the looking and who is being looked at”. In his book based on the famous BBC television series Ways of Seeing, John Berger explores the centuries-long history of painting and sculpture, highlighting the ways in which women have been looked at.

“Regardless of whether their role in the art work is as metaphor or iconographical element, women have consistently been presented as objects of desire intended to satisfy the male gaze. And this has been compounded by the fact that women’s artistic creativity has all too often been hidden from the public eye. Denied, misunderstood and, until fairly recently, marginalised,” says on the website.