What is the status of painting today? The question serves as the point of departure for an exhibition of the recent production of young generations of painters in Slovenia, i.e. artists born in the 1970s and 1980s. In the face of the shifts and changes that occurred in art over the 20th century, painting as an eminently traditional medium ran up against all conceivable boundaries, and also managed to transcend all of them, into either physical or social space. In the end, in the radically changed paradigm of contemporary art and subject to the monopoly of technologically-generated, instantaneous and virtual images, it had to tackle the issue of its own artistic ontology and resolve it, at least partially, in order to justify its continued existence as a legitimate artistic gesture. None of this put an end to painting; rather, the meaning and purpose of painterly work today seems to lie in the search for the reasons painting has survived as it has, and may also serve in the process to reveal the fact that in the new millennium paintings are made in and with the awareness of a fundamentally different artistic view.
This view no longer affords us the innocence of perceiving or conceiving of a painting as a vacant, blank site devoid of memory or history, nor the innocence that would allow retreating into the safe haven of the autonomy of an artwork; nor the illusion that art can depict a truth that is more than just a construct, even with the most subjective of topics, such as memory, the intimate, and fears and dreams. Instead, it seems that young generations of artists treat painting as the site in which to expose and express social dissent, the everyday/mundane personal, and national and supranational pathologies, to retreat into the walled gardens of private anxieties, or cynical and frivolous frolicking in the shallows of emptied media images multiplied ad infinitum. At the same time, none of this prevents them from euphorically playing with the image, from finding real joy in lightly transposing, borrowing, copy-pasting, collaging, reversing, banalizing it and more.
The exhibition attempts to show how a highly complex network – consisting of the traditions behind the medium, and the contemporary virtual, technological and media representations – surrounds contemporary painterly production, which includes both the experience of overlapping fields of visual and non-visual contemporary art and the awareness of the very critical times – socially and globally – we live in. The exhibition is conceived as an overview of the prolific and varied production of the past decade across a wide range of autonomous and authentic artistic expressions. And it shows that, rather than employing any groupings, lines or styles that would at best prove mutually exclusive, this phenomenon of younger generation painting is as a whole evidence of a powerful creative dynamic that importantly impacts and shapes the field of contemporary art.