This survey exhibition presents a selection of works from the generous donation of works by Dimitry Orlač, a highly distinctive contemporary artist who has decided, at an advanced stage in his career, to donate to Moderna galerija in Ljubljana more than fifty of his valuable works produced in a variety of techniques across a number of distinct creative periods.
Orlač’s painterly oeuvre can be interpreted in the wider context of concrete art, where a monochrome surface expands into multilayered depth through a prolonged production process. Since the mid-1990s, Orlač has focused on making graphite paintings. His procedure is highly characteristic: drawing a line in pencil on the surface of the support he repeats the gesture until the entire surface is covered in graphite strokes. More important than the result is the duration of the production, which is also meticulously documented. The genealogy of the repetitive motions underscores the materiality of the graphite painting and its very real presence in time. This is a radical rationalist practice that can antagonize viewers, compel them to inspect the work more closely or make the painting the place of visual activity. Orlač’s graphite paintings are a playground of sorts for our gaze, and from this point of view, they are no longer objects, as each has become a process. Our gaze travels along the pictorial surface, bringing it alive and deriving visual pleasure from that. It is this prolonged traveling of the gaze, its duration, that transforms the material presence of graphite on paper into a painting. At the turn of 1997/98, Orlač made a graphite painting in the Mala galerija (Moderna galerija’s project space at the time), finishing it on the closing day of the exhibition. In this way he stressed the real aspect of time, since the viewers could watch him work on the painting by way of a television screen in the gallery window.
This approach, that could be summed up as “filling the paper” or “writing a letter” is also characteristic of Orlač’s drawings and works in color and text.
Dimitry Orlač (Orlac) was born in Koper, Slovenia, in 1956, and has lived in France since the age of three. He graduated from the University of Paris (the Sorbonne) with a degree in philosophy, and later also from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bordeaux. He lives and works in Paris.