This year’s latest linocuts by Nevenka Arbanas are bursting with the freshness of the luxurious color palette, which was created from deeply thought-out signs and symbols, marked by moments and traces of a permanent rumor and the author’s inexhaustible skill. We could even say that the fresh color tension contributed to the freedom of imagination and recognizable originality added new elements to the already used work processes.
Experiencing colors in Nevenka’s studio has a multifaceted meaning. This year, the visitor is addressed – purple, green and yellow, created from the palette of the monochromatic background of the seasons of the calm islands of art. Nevenka knows how to materialize in painting what we all think about – everyday life, summed up by a selected grapheme without unnecessary narration; about artists who are remembered by the modest footprints under the green canopies of often non-native species (trees), about friends whose common topic grew into philosophical discussions over time. Because these are the veins and roots of one of our friends, Tonko Maroević, who in 2018 wrote about “retrospective papers”:
“In any case, the outlines of plant leaves on the graphic paper challenge the idea that we are by no means talking about synonyms, but they associatively lead us to the idea that even in graphic processes there are limits to development and layering, similar to how we see the layering and branching of the network of leaf veins”.
But Tonko Marojević then spoke of the author’s black and white world as an overture, but I perceive it as a constant. At least once, I would like to explain that Nevenka’s “sheets” can be photocopies, recycled pages of old newspapers, building material as roofing, a luxurious range of gravure printing techniques, but especially letterpress printing (linocut), as epistolary forms written with ink. In order for everything to be consistent in the end, it is also consistently monochromatic. The foundation, however, is contained in the concept of vertical and horizontal works, selected for the present exhibition in Ljubljana, which can be read with the real experience of knowing graphic techniques and expanding the matter of a certain medium. The horizontal and vertical rectangles, like penetration “through the window” (whether it is in Iž, in Zagreb, or Ljubljana) in the creative frame, truly represent a memory of the achievements of Nevenka’s retrospective in Klović’s mansions. They lead even further, towards conversational whirlwinds of suggestive topics and almost towards the branching roots of individual visions of her art. The integration of various elements of the refined artist’s view according to the possible motif and the highly (technologically) finished execution prove that only an expert like Nevenka can convey the latter to young people (it is not related to the occasional eclecticism or nostalgia of combinations).
Figural, zoomorphic, anthropomorphic stimuli are indeed potential motifs to be overcome. This happens if we know the results of occasional experiments in complex techniques (woodcut or linocut), which follow the long timeline of our excellent graphic artists, where Albert Kinert, Tomislav Krizman, Frane Paro and many others met in an ideal “confrontation”. Nevenka constantly upgraded the knowledge acquired in Gröningen, Paris and Prague, selflessly passed it on to the talented, and by choosing poets who recognized and loved “this”, deeply anchored the latter in the understanding of poetry.
And last but not least, the most important: the recent exhibition of Nevenka Arbanas in Novo Mesto at the Janez Trdina Cultural Center, from April 14 to May 12, 2023, with an accompanying text by Ivana Rončevič, is only the latest of the newer and more successful connections/links of her presence on the international scene , especially in Slovenia. Therefore, it is also necessary to remember the reviews that contribute to everything we have just said about the value of the artist, and these are mainly: The text of Slavica Marković for the “International Graphic Biennale” in the Modern Gallery in Ljubljana, written already in 1995 and 1997 (Markovič, Slavica. Nevenka Arbanas, text in the catalog: 21st International Graphic Biennale, 1995., Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, 1995., pp. 99-100; Marković, Slavica. Nevenka Arbanas, text in the catalog: 22nd International Graphic Biennale, 1997. pp. 90-91); then Tatjana Pregl Kobe’s text about harmonic beauty populated with symbols (Pregl Kobe, Tatjana. Harmonic beauty populated with symbols, text for the exhibition: Nevenka Arbanas. Krka Gallery Ljubljana, 23.10.-18.11.2003), and finally, the text by Goran Milovanović for the Božidar Jakac Gallery (Milovanović, Goran. Nevenka Arbanas: Graphics 2003-2007, text in the catalogue: Nevenka Arbanas, Božidar Jakac Gallery – Lamutov likovni salon, Kostanjevica na Krki. 05. 10. – 05. 11. 2007). In addition to the aforementioned texts, Alenka Lisinski also wrote about her more modern works for “Večerni list” under the title “Heavenly gifts of Nevenka Arbanas”, and as a kind of conclusion we can also find her in the works of another friend, the poet Luka Paljetak, about “graphic prints of the sky”. It is quite natural that at the core of grammar and syntax of language literacy is also the core that the artist nurtures and easily, always and yet reproduces in the form of spiritual reflection of joyful inspiration of precious encounters (with heaven) recorded in such moments.
Koraljka Jurčec Kos
About the author
Academic painter and graphic artist Nevenka Arbanas was born on June 8, 1950 in Batina (Beli Manastir). After finishing elementary school in Našice, she enrolled at the School of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb and continued her education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where she graduated in 1975 from the graphics department under professor Albert Kinert.
In 1977, she obtained her master’s degree in graphic arts from the same professor. She received her doctorate on the basis of artistic achievements in the realization of the artistic project “Leaves” in September 2017.
As a scholarship holder, she participated in several art studios for graphics, namely with:
– Minerva Academy, Groningen, 1978;
– Atelier S. W. Hayter, Paris 1986; and
– Academy of Fine Arts, Prague 1989.
She published a handbook entitled Graphic Techniques (1999) and a university textbook Graphic Techniques of Gravure Printing, and a monograph on her work with text by Luka Paljetka (1997) was also published. She received numerous awards for graphics (Zagreb, Osijek, Lublin), and her works are in several museums, galleries and private collections in Croatia and abroad. She had numerous solo and group exhibitions. For several years she lectured at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.