Matej Sitar / Small Meditation on Time and Space & Abyss
UGM Studio, Trg Leona Štuklja 2
31 August - 29 September 2018
curated by: Andreja Borin, UGM senior curator
Production: Umetnostna galerija Maribor
opening: 31 August 2018, 19:00
guided tour: 31 August 2018, 18:30
Matej Sitar introduced himself to Maribor in 2008 with a solo exhibition at Photogallery Stolp of the Tsurai series of photographs which emerged from his travels in Japan. At the end of August he is making another appearance, this time at UGM Studio with a set of two photographic series, created during the last three years. The first, Small Meditation on Time and Space, reveals the artist's intimate experience of the world, the second, entitled Abyss, switches from the intimate view to the general social sphere of existence and addresses topical issues, such as uncertainty, anxiety, lack of perspective, and the disorientiation of the global world we live in.
Small Meditation on Time and Space unfolds in front of the observer as an array of various images. Some are firmly anchored in the physical world, with others, the photographer moves away from the corporeal and approaches the pensive, contemplative, or dreamy experience. Sitar's photographic images arise at different levels of reality. Some are widely open to narrativity, others bespeak the unsaid/indicated/anticipated and hold a door open for the sensation and the interpretation of the observer. It seems that the photographer's approach is equally rational as it is intuitive. He is drawn by interim spaces that emerge as a departure from reality, by the distinction between these spaces, and by the creation of connections. Consequently, the narrative occasionally changes its course, moves away, twists, draws closer again, and then returns to the initial reference point. Yet, translating visual images into literary language would result in a realistic narrative which, in favour of the fantastic or the imaginative, sporadically goes beyond reality and at the same time, giving a lyrical description of nature or a contemplative reflection on the meaning of time, transience, and randomness, returns to the real in a gentle curve in order to point out the precious moments of a certain existence.
The second series entitled Abyss focuses exclusively on one motif. It is the night motif of a sea pier, which the artist pursued over a longer period of time. The title Abyss indicates the symbolic significance of the series that the photographer himself interprets as a response to current political affairs and a feeling of the spirit of the times we live in. The series begins with the photo of a lamp, continues with a group of people on the shore staring at some point in the distance, then with a photograph of the sea, of lightning, and again of the sea, and of people ... The pier as a temporary and limited space of current residence on which strangers coexist, images of people indicating a point in the distance or bending over the water as if searching for answers in it, images of a secluded pier in total darkness, photographs of lightning and close shots of the sea, all this evokes an allusion to the current images of refugees who are following points in the distance, reaching unknown territories, talking to strangers on that same pier, and staring at the sea on which their survival depends. Using different approaches, the photographer emphasizes the narrative's suspense: the dominant theme of the night motif, the weak lighting, the isolation of the pier, and sometimes the graininess of the photographs. Only few elements of the narrative are specifically highlighted; each change in the framing, each gesture or attitude of protagonists in this empty space immersed in the darkness resonates more strongly. He thus achieves various effects, ranging from calmness to drama, using minimal variation. Broadly speaking, we can also perceive the Abyss as an illustration of our own existence in all its ranges: finding the right direction, approaching the coast, coexisting with strangers, surviving storms and unpredictable seas, and finally moments of confiding closeness of two lovers with whom the series ends. Hence, with love that gives meaning and (solely) shows a way out of the abyss.
Matej Sitar (1980) is an art photographer of wide-spectrum interests. He works as an architectural photographer for different architects and magazines, publishes limited edition photo-books under his own brand The Angry Bat, presents photo-books by different authors on his The Angry Bat – nice photobooks blog on weekly bases and still finds time to exhibit regularly. Currently he lives and works in Maribor. His publishing house has so far produced three of his own photo-books: Morning sun, 2015; America, my way, 2012; Tsuriai, 2010, as well as Nocturno by Andrej Lamut, Goran Bertok's Requiem and American Cowboy by the Finnish photographer Karoliina Paatos. He was awarded the EMZIN price for his book America, my way, several artistic grants and the prestigious Essl Award for young contemporary artist (2009).