Exhibition

 

GOLDEN FINGERS OF LOUVRE

IGOR EŠKINJA 

GOLDEN FINGERS OF LOUVRE

The museum in which this work by Igor Eškinja is articulated is the destination that attracts large numbers of visitors who, inspired by different motives, come to see masterpieces of world art, but also the historical architecture and its recognizable more modern additions. When we attempt to classify them in some sort of media categorizations and frame them into uniform definitions, most of these masterpieces are actually of traditional provenance. It seems that awareness of this precise fact is the starting point of Igor Eškinja’s artistic act. By spending time in the famous museum, he explored its spaces and discovered and focused on completely different museum topoi and manners of artistic engagement. Specifically, as a starting position for the articulation of his work he selected a seemingly ephemeral, but intense point, a sort of a demarcation line → the museum exit. Of course, we should point out that this is not just any, or any type of, museum, but one that marked the beginnings of serious museum practice early on and is considered one of the oldest and “most important” world museums,the Louvre in Paris. For this reason, its presence in the title of Igor’s work has a rather powerful resonance.

What are we dealing with here? Eškinja addresses the physical origin of the painting itself – painting in the traditional sense of the word – because he builds his works on the basis of a primary autograph, i.e. the hand print. Still, these prints are not his but of numerous anonymous visitors that the artist noticed on glass surfaces of the museum exit and recorded with his photo camera. The artist translates the practice of an ambiguous conceptual game into aninvestigation of the traditional medium like “painting,” but also to the examination of the role of actor and the place of its creation. The game, evidently, becomes extremely complex. That is why the participative component in the creation of the work is extremely important, as well as the unconscious collectivism that goes beyond the narrow understanding of the intimate context of artistic creation. The artist chose a visually attractive phenomenon – a multitude of greasy fingerprints, or palmprints on the glass surface exposed to rays of sunshine – and introduced it to the conceptual field of an artistic act. We can indeed approach this work in multiple ways, so we can talk about unconscious social games or, literally, unplanned and casual meetings (at least, at the forensic level). The social component, therefore, is woven into the very fabric of this artistic expression by Eškinja. Conversely, do the artworks in Louvre not owe their longevity to the social contract based on the accumulation of added values and interpretative additions through different epochs?
Furthermore, the time when the work is initiated is also interesting, i.e. at dusk towards the end of day. Generally speaking, this is the time when the clear description of object dissolves and it is manifested in its synthesized forms without forceful details, the time when the core of things is noticed without any superfluity. In this case, the rays of the setting sun make impurity present in the form of golden traces and as a paramount component of the museum exit as a frequent location. The language and usage of golden paint was burdenedwith an exclusive character throughout the entire history of art, and it usually emphasizes an unorthodox phenomenon and value. Igor Eškinja assigns the museum visitors with the importance of those who add value, and have the skill of the mythical King Midas who turned everything to gold with his touch, with all the positive and negative repercussions of his act. It is a seductive idea – especially from the critical perspective – that everything the visitors touch has the potential to become art. Golden colour connects these works by Eškinja with the “treasure” that is kept in the museum and it closes everything in an invisible, but logical circle.
Likewise, when displayed in the exhibition space Igor’s works function as if they can be describedusing traditional vocabulary and can be approached with common interpretative tools. Observed from a certain distance, all these works show the character of self-sufficient compositions with their own visual logic and aesthetic vein, in line with non-representational art specifictosome 20th century artistic practices. A closer view, however, reveals their processual quality and mooring in the objective world and total descriptiveness, so we can distinguish reflections of human figures, their hand prints, and a completely different iconography. The artist creates a relationship of subtle tension. However, does this ambivalence not contain the duality of social conventions and norms that always manifest both sides of the coin? Perhaps the field ofboth – concurrently –the aesthetic and critical discourse of the artist himself? Or something completely different and unexpected, rooted in the observer’s point of view?

Dalibor Prančević
 

 
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