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[28th ACC Metelkova anniversary] Maja Pučl: Golden Thread

03 September 2021 > 24 September 2021 Kindly invited to the opening of the of the retrospective exhibition "Golden Thread"by Maja Pučl, on Friday, 3rd September, at 7pm, at the Alkatraz Gallery. Kindly invited also to the guided tour with the artist on Thursday, 9th September at 7 pm. The exhibition is a part of 28th anniversary of the ACC Metelkova mesto.
In accordance with the instructions of National Institute of Public Health entry into the venue during the opening of the exhibition is permitted only with a negative PCR or RAT test result or a medical certificate of recovery or vaccination.

As part of the 28th anniversary of ACC Metelkova City, we present an overview of works of art of an academic painter, Maja Pučl, who works in the fields of painting, drawing, graphics, performance, calligraphy, and dance. Maja Pučl has been creating within the Autonomous Cultural Centre Metelkova City for several years. Shortly after completing their studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, she and a sculptor Tanja Vergles rented a studio on Gerbičeva ulica in Ljubljana. After their lease expired, they searched for a new space, and found it in the building Pešaki at ACC Metelkova City, where they stayed for two years. Then they moved a floor lower, into the studio of Jože Barši, where they were until 2018. In the same year, Maja Pučl got for use a studio of the City Municipality of Ljubljana in the building Lovci, in the attic.

Her exhibition reflects the desire of Alkatraz Gallery's team to always represent a variety of approaches and aesthetics of local artists, who through their activities in this space, have shaped numerous authorial poetics and means of expression. Retrospective exhibitions that we organise every year and for which we also publish catalogues, are a good starting point for the debate about the phenomena of visual culture in our space. The process of in-depth research of the creative work of local artists that took several years, brings new opportunities to present the rich variety in the autonomous zone, which is not linked to art often enough. Through the process of presenting their works of art, we attempt to develop our research project spanning over many years, which started with the projects The Mid - Stop (2012) and The Closing Stop (2013), in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Arts — SCCA Ljubljana. We are interested in whether Metelkova's art exists: is perhaps this notion tied only to genius loci — the metaphoric spirit of the place, which through its typical atmosphere reflects through original aesthetics, or perhaps to something else, say communal way of working in artistic production and beyond.

The focus of Maja Pučl's works of art is directed towards the portrayal of combining dimensions of human experience and perspectives that co-exist at different levels of perception. Aiming to approach and understand the world in the broadest sense, the artist steps away from depicting the visual towards clearing the visual field. Her paintings are formed by a selected and stunted palette of colours or complex patterns, which appear simple, and are inhabited by abstract images and a minimalist approach. Her creative process frequently includes also the play of light among constituent elements of the works of art, and among them and the surroundings.

The artist depicts a space that is beyond the visible reality, which she accesses with the help of her works of art, which otherwise do not offer a clear frame of reference and clearly delineated perspective of interpretation. If some artists' desire is to attempt opening a space for reflection on a concrete phenomenon with their works, Maja Pučl heads into another direction:  Her contemplative creativity tries to open the field of perceptions as wide as possible, in order to portray — in her own words — what is cosmic outside and inside of us. The motif of the circle, which appears frequently and in different realisations, can also be understood through this. The artist claims that she wants to limit the expression of her opinions, and she sets herself to work without a predetermined concept. Testing options, avoiding guidance, and a penchant for opening one's eyes to chance, sometimes lead to surprising choices of techniques. She has already employed punching holes into canvases with the purpose of working with light and shadow, as well as embroidery on canvas and embroidery in sieves, light play with golden and silver colours and materials, and situating absence into a work of art itself (the project: The Presence of Absence) on an abstract level. Moreover, the author uses the rhythms of nature: for instance, rain as a force that directs images on a painting with an ink (the cycle Rain Drawings) or dew that creates outlines on canvas, which serve as a starting point for a painting (the cycle Morning Dew). Daring attempts at expressing herself in cooperation with the forces of nature do not shake the consistency of the author's poetics, rather they further emphasize her characteristic artistic imprint.

The exhibition invites viewers to reflect on fundamental issues that determine our lives, and gives priority to the diversity of personal artistic expressions. The project, which leaves open doors for various interpretations and creates a contemplative atmosphere for every individual, shall thus provide visitors with space and time to think about art and delve into the question what a work of art is at the crossroads of artistic idea, inspiration, choice of a medium, use of materials, and execution.

The poetics of Maja Pučl's artistic expression and interest does not agree with the stereotypical vision of the concept of Metelkova's art, which evokes associations with straightforward communicativeness aimed at defending values or critiquing institutions and politics, or with aesthetic that can be associated with the arte povera movement. Despite this, her creative work belongs to the artistic space of the autonomous zone, since Metelkova is much more than an engaged political discourse. The richness of this is space lies precisely in the plurality of approaches, which can be recognized also in the field of fine art. The Alkatraz Gallery shall feature an overview of the artist's creative oeuvre of the past ten years, which urges the viewer to check whether what is seen can be observed differently than just as straightforward messages they encountered in the space of Metelkova that might encourage action. This time, they are invited to observe artistic objects with their own inner eye, and use them as a starting point for the observation of themselves, for one's own process of observing thoughts and emotions.  In addition to the space that the artist occupies with her artistic creations, there shall thus be another space available: the place of visual silence, where there are no interpretations and real answers prepared in advance, but where there is freedom of open and creative quest or query.

The very attitude of the artist, who has been creating within this environment for over a decade, towards Metelkova itself, shows a wide range of possible opinions and ways of understanding autonomous space. Just as not all art that is created within Metelkova is activist, not every Metelkova's artist is involved in collective community processes. The artist's relation towards the dynamics that is an integral part of what happens in autonomous spaces is rather reserved and neutral. As she says, she prefers to focus on individual work and does not even feel a sense of belonging to the ethos or connection with the creative work of other artists who work here. Nevertheless, she attends common events, such as open studios, fairs, organized guided tours of the studios, with her artistic contribution she participates at local festivals (The International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns), and as one of the authors is involved in the project Gesamtkunstwerk Metelkova mesto, which centers around the installation of external interventions. Nor does she believe that it would make sense to use the term 'Metelkova's art', since, in her opinion, it does not really exist, but she still adds that she feels more connected to what is happening at Metelkova since she has a studio in the building Lovci. However, she says that a variety of images of Metelkova helps her to delve even deeper into herself during creative work in her studio.

Maja Pučl’s work is a reflection of her own internal world, the external influences surrounding her studio matter much less, regardless of the fact that this environment is loud and that the atmosphere is often tense. These are opinions that are quite far from the collective spirit of Metelkova's pioneers and inspiring visions of diversity. The artist who is withdrawing into herself amidst Metelkova's noise, challenges stereotypes and as, a result, actually contributes to the variety of Metelkova's symbolic mosaic.