Mists, Moods, Hopes

Kristina Cvetuljski


May 30th – June 15th

Kristina Cvetuljski’s landscapes communicate a clear materiality while skillfully avoiding confinement to a time and space. Instead of exploring the experience of a specific locale, of nature, or the effects of weather, the artist creates a purely pictorial space from lived experience by stringing together notes of numerous places and moments. The lazure quality of oil and the selection of tones that blur the color categories achieve a precise, yet derealized atmosphere. Thus the landscape transforms from an image of nature into a matrix for the observer’s empathetic exploration of their own psychological processes. Its materiality is not reduced to a depiction of a specific space, but is transferred to the plane of somatic and psychological discourse. The meaning of these compositions is ever shifting through observation, and the final effect is not predetermined. It varies from complete tranquility, through an anxious search for subtext, to the exhilaration of recognizing content familiar to the viewer.

Besides toying with perception and recognition, the exhibited series of works also questions the established relationship between man and landscape painting. The depiction of nature does not represent a metaphor for man, either on a psychological or a cultural level, but rather man emerges from the sedimented experience transposed onto fluid forms and ambiguous tones. In this process, the ultimate, final impression and meaning are never fully penetrated, as compositions vary from intense action to sensory calm. In them, the surfaces of sky, water, and grass seemingly stretch indefinitely, yet the subjects often appear trapped, with no easy way out.

Mechanisms of Hope

Cvetuljski’s artistic process approaches the visual content derived from the artist’s personal experience with a distinctly analytical eye: she modifies, integrates, and often softens forms of various origins, culminating in intentionally ambiguous compositions. These dreamlike landscapes, in collaboration with the viewer’s perception, constantly wander along the psychoanalytic axes of condensation and displacement [1] — the accumulated products of the psyche, a myriad of experiences and impressions, become merely fine transitions between surfaces in constant latent tension between figuration and abstraction, or they are embodied in an active, bustling figure of a running dog. The very etymology of the aforementioned concepts reveals an intuitive connection between space and psyche, which Kristina Cvetuljski explores through a series of subconsciously chosen metaphors and metonymies. The result of this interplay is the strikingly instabile meaning of the depicted place. Derealization through the artistic process is probably the most conspicuous connection among the exhibited works, itself enhanced by the disruption of intersubjectivity. It seems that all content offered for the viewer’s exploration comes from the artist’s subjective perspective, but direct communication is evaded. Just as she eliminates the depiction of people as subjects in her compositions, Kristina Cvetuljski’s paintings communicate more as a window rather than a portal, allowing only glimpses through the mist and twilight.

A Crab in Time

Coinciding with the dissolving impression of territoriality, the dimension of time in the exhibited works is not conceived linearly. Parallel to Rebecca Solnit’s understanding, Kristina Cvetuljski’s history is the scuttling of a crab, rather than the march of an army [2] — the artist cuts sideways through various moments in search of a unifying impression. By creating a derealized, yet clearly material landscape, she offers an atmosphere that is concurrently  a memory of the past, a current sensory experience, a dream, or even a vision. Free to float outside the standardized categories of pictorial form and human perception, her specific visual language polemicizes the transformation of the material world through processes of the psyche, always evading a straightforward resolution.

Dunja Belić

[1] Condensation and displacement: E. Roudinesco, Jacques Lacan, Cambridge 2005, 271.

[2] R. Solnit, Hope In the Dark, Chicago 2016, 3–4.