Screens and Chests



Marko Košan, 1997



The painting-screens of Sašo Vrabič emerge from elusive vacuum of intangible physical space formed at the outlet of the cathode-ray tube of the TV monitor. Individual uncentered fragments of the cinematically cut images are arranged as a collage on the canvas surface, but none of the counterpoised sections of the ungraspable narration are hierarchically privileged or transformed into icon. The paintings are neither stylistically nor compositionally subjugated to predefined schemes; they are subordinated to the process of recycling fragments of visual messages, to their accumulation and eclectic unquestionability which enable a lucid symbiosis of manifold elements of the fragmentary meta-reality. The syncretism of contents dissolves the concentration of the composed image in the sense of a dramatic, or mythical, narrative impetus. Only its phenomenological particularity, which uncovers the mechanisms of the currently dominant visual communication, is emphasized. Although the stagnancy of the painted fragment perverts the dynamics of the electronic image, its manipulative effects are only the more plainly exposed in the medium in which such a method is not immanent. In principle, imaginary or memory-based referential frameworks could be combined with frozen images, but Vrabič consciously drives them out with his concept of constructing the painting. The still frames of the continuous electronic image are free of the ballast of intellectual sensitivity flowing through the history of culture and art. It ignores the pathetic rhetoric of identification with grand pretexts and models. Images are translated into fine membranes, but taken out of context, they lose meaning and significance. They are swift and elusive, but petrified in temporal instants, and they incidentally stop at Vrabic’s canvases, which - just like city hoardings- give away to painted figurative or pattern-like texture only for a limited period of time. Vrabič alludes to the habitual omnipresence of such electronic icons in the modern urban environment which implies alienation and certain distance, and which turns us into passive voyeurs, subject to an inert visual fascination which deposits layers of trivial messages into our subconsciousness.

In the framework of The Artist and an Urban Environment project, Sašo Vrabič did not stop at the fixation on the iconoclastic nature of contemporary visual art; instead, he contrasted chests with fetish objects, safely positioned in the closed world of the self-referential context and personal existential logic, with the impersonal electronic reflection of the fictitious reality. The artist employs temporal categories of memory and the permanent pulsation of the introverted intellect to reflect his own dichotomy between the world of intimate, internal stimuli and the world of the transient “big city street” exploited in the media. In the bipolar perplexity of the expressions of the creative contemplation, which seem to be mutually exclusive, Vrabič’s works acquire transcendental dimensions, which place them within the original range of the artistic experience of the world.

Marko Košan, curator, Koroška Gallery of Art, Slovenj Gradec from the exhibition catalogue 'The Artist and an Urban Environment', 1997, p.65-66.
Image: Screen, 1995, oil, acrylic on canvas