Vinko Barić / Subrealism around us
“At night, during intimate, half-loud conversations to myself, I have been unable to really logically justify why I have lately been so upset because of human stupidity. If others’ stupidity were as unpleasant as own toothache, well, this could be somehow explained: rotten teeth spoil the mood, toothache renders you sleepless. But this?
– What do you mean ‘this?’
– It’s like this: everything in life is governed by deeper laws of nature which science has lately termed as ‘natural laws:’ why, for instance, buttered bread always falls on the side with butter? Coincidence? No! Law. A law of universe.“
The painting cycle “Subrealism around us” by Vinko Barić will be exhibited in Split for the first time (except for “Municipal elections in Suhopolje” which was exhibited at Splitski Salon in 2015. All other paintings have been exhibited only in Zagreb as a part of a joint exhibition with Davor Gobac in the “Laval Nugent” gallery in November 2014). As I have already written (it is wise to mention it again, since it refers to the entire engagement of this artist): Barić is the guardian of the golden age of underground aesthetics fromt he second half of the 20th century, freed from strict academism and established norms – both in artistic research and in everyday life. He literally lives his arts, following the “che sera, sera”motto. Resolutely and firmly, he is defending the oasis of urban, free spirit with his weapons that are more deadly than a rifle – satirical and uncompromising commentaries, publicly shaming the forced civic mentality – its threats, lies, deception, hypocrisy, and other perversion and deviations arising from it. These are the main guidelines by which we can approach this versatile artist: painter, comic bookwriter (Vinko has released four excellent strip albums so far), musician (a member of the punk band “Porno Suicid”) and a writer (in 2011, he published a great book on Croatian punk history: „Hrvatski punk i novi val 1976.-1987.“ /”Croatian punk and new wave 1976-1987″).
What I’m always excited about with Barić’s works is that same subversive, charming courage and the appeal that we can also feel with “Cat Fritz” (an animated film by Ralph Bakshi from 1972, based on a comic by Robert Crumb).
Commenting the works from his last cycle, the author himself says: “This sub-realistic cycle of paintings is an absurd, socio-critical play of facts from the everyday world around us, seen through the prism of humor, precisely to avoid the pretense and unconvincingness of socially engaged art. The unmatched time-space and class-politics combinations in these paintings strive to create a collage of diverse references that ultimately present us with the faded, vanished, and somewhat overexposed image of the world. One of the few mechanisms of resistance in this technologically advanced but self-destructive and dying civilization of today is just humor. The concept of this exhibition and the concept of “subrealism” is based on word games, but the name is also a meaningful explanation of the very concept itself. If surrealism was “above” reality, then subrealism should be “underneath” reality – it is that little, almost invisible, thread of absurdity and bizarreness, a thin “deja vu” link that, as a rhythmically correct mathematical fracture, flows through the world around us. Thus, these images combine seemingly incompatible things and situations such as Christian fanaticism and North Korean stalinism and the personality of cult (“Zlatko Sudac baptizes Kim Jong Un at the stadium in Pjongjang”) or the representation of wisdom teeth in the Parliament (“The Council of Wisdom Teeth”) as a metaphor for the combat of the most ambitious politicians in Croatia, and so on.”
Certainly, as far as I knew Vinko’s painting and whenever I might have approached his paintings, I was always pleasantly surprised with what these paintings showed and the atmosphere that emerged from those paintings. To some people, the direct attitude of Vinko’s paintings may seem “too-straightforward” and somewhat vulgar in their joining of the “incompatible”, painfully mocking and inarticulate in its own expression; but to me, all this is a good alternative to the finely rounded and minutely studied common criticisms of society.
It is precisely this Baric’s brutality, the crude, black-humorous “inattention” that does not care about the consequences and the value court comprising of “competent peacemakers” from the “both” sides of the social spectrum emitting the much-needed yet the useless S.O.S. call; SOS. from a sinking boat – it is sinking because nobody cares about the values that should be preserved, except in the pre-election periods. This is not an isolated case in Droatia. The problem is wider – civilizational, if not anthropological. The conclusions are clear: there is no future, no more righteous shifts in politics, no prosperity or just distribution of goods on Earth. The past decades (if not centuries and millennia) suggest that the future will be just the same as now, or even worse, but never better. Do not rejoice. Face it. Humans were not the first form of life, and it will not be the last trace of life on this planet. The only thing that helps is loud, unarticulated laughter. Temporarily.
Miroslv Krleža, Na rubu pameti, Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1996.
Excerpts from curator-artist correspondence.
Born in Split in 1980.
He graduated from The School of Fine Arts in Split in 1998 (painting designer).
He got a degree in painting from The Academy of Fine Arts in Split in 2005, in the class of professor Nina Ivančić, and since 2005 he has been a member of HULU Split. In addition to painting and illustrations, he also deals with underground comics and graphic design. He has exhibited at several solo and group exhibitions since 1995 until today.
Barić published several historiographic-theoretical texts in the theoretical comic comic “Kvadrat”. Since 1994, he has had several collective and solo exhibitions of paintings and several comics. Since 1994, his comics have been published in fanzines, comic magazines, music magazines and cultural/literary periodicals as well as in various art and alt-culture catalogs, brochures and comic compilations.
He used to be a member of the comic collectives “NOVO HRVATSKO PODZEMLJE” (NHP) and “Divlje Oko” (Zagreb), and is currently a collaborator of the comic collective “Komikaze” from Zagreb. In 2003, collaborating with D. Ercegović, he edited and published the only issue of Solin comic fanzine “Majdanska Garaža”. In 2007, he illustrated a children’s book by Nada Topić “Kako se Rodila Roda”. His book “Croatian punk and new wave 1976-1987” was released independently. In the meantime, from 1997 to 2008, he has released three comics, and since 2009 he has been a part of the illustration crew for the “Lavanderman” series. Two of his paintings are a part of the fundus of the Gallery of Fine Arts in Split.
Since 2008, he has been a member of the art punk band “Ilija i Zrno Žita” and the electro punk project “Porno Suicid”, creating both performances and video art. He has designed several vinyl and CD covers, covers for archival and collection releases of PARAF, PANKRTI, GOLA JAJA, PATARENI, BUKA and GIHT SHASIE, as well as several posters and flyers for bands, concerts and clubs of the local scene of Split. He is currently working on the book “Complete Discography of Ex-Yu Punk and New Wave”.