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Ivan Kožarić, Osjećaj cjeline (The Feeling of Wholeness), 1953—54, plaster, iron, wooden base, 38 x 21 x 22.5cm. Photograph: Darko Bavoljak
‘Since I have been free, all kinds of ideas are coming to my mind, and almost every one of them I find to be good, although they oppose the ideas I had before, which were smooth-running and good.’ 1
— Ivan Kožarić, letter to the imaginary Office for Dispossession of Freedom, 1976
Sculptor, Anti-Sculptor, Non-Sculptor
Since the late 1950s, Ivan Kožarić has constructed one artistic paradigm after another, only to dismantle it later, as if motivated by a constant desire to find yet another artistic gesture and change of direction. The dialectics and contradictions at the heart of his complex artistic position have been summarised by Ješa Denegri, who described him as simultaneously ‘sculptor, anti-sculptor and non-sculptor in the same time, in the same person’.2
Although Kožarić is quintessentially a sculptor, his practice encompasses public monuments, installations, conceptual proclamations, textual works, drawings and paintings. He often makes use of readymades, sometimes experimenting with video or introducing performative elements. The constant transformations in his work are not changes in media or style, however, such as moving from figuration to abstraction, or to a conceptual approach, but a creative process full of upheavals, in which existing sculptures and cycles of works are continually recycled, reworked, rejected, rearranged and re-evaluated.
Like other prominent Croatian artists — such as Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos or Tomislav Gotovac (also known as A.G. Lauer) — Kožarić is intent on creating a personal art system that involves perpetually contextualising his own works in relation to each other. Whereas Gotovac’s system, for instance, is what he calls ‘globally directed’ (a ‘paranoid’ worldview that embraces the grand narratives of film, art, politics and history),