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P74 Gallery

Victorious Four

Geta Brătescu, Adriana, Maraž, Maria Lai, Milena Usenik

1 – 29 June 2018
P74 Gallery, Trg Prekomorskih brigad 1, Ljubljana

At P74 Gallery on Friday, 1 June 2018 at 20h, we will open the exhibition The Victorious Four, a group presentation of outstanding female artists who in the recent decades have significantly marked contemporary arts in the fields of painting, experimental graphics, performance art and public art. In the past few years, we have been witness to a trend in the international space of discovering female artists who have been overlooked by the art system. As a result, numerous women are experiencing the height of their artistic careers in their eighties or even in their nineties.

The Romanian artist Geta Brătescu was honored in 2017 when she was eighty-one years old at documenta 14 in Kassel, the 57th Venice Biennale, the Camden Art Centre in London and Tate Liverpool (2016). Maria Lai, one of the greatest Italian female artists (born on Sardinia, died in 2013 at the age of ninety-three) also participated in documenta 14 and in the 2013 edition of the Venice Biennale. After her solo exhibition at P74 Gallery (2014), Milena Usenik experienced resounding success at the pop-art exhibition Ludwig Goes POP + The East Side Story at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest (2015/16) and at prestigious art fairs in Basel, Madrid and Vienna.

The exhibition of four exceptional female creators, Maria Lai (b. 1919, Ulassai–2013), Adriana Maraž (b. 1931, Ilirska Bistrica – 2015), Milena Usenik (b. 1934, Veliki vrh, Bloke) and Geta Brătescu (b. 1926, Ploieşti) is a homage to their creativity, social awareness and non-hierarchial creations.

Maria Lai, Legarsi alla montagna, 1981

In September 1981 the artist Maria Lai carried out the project Legarsi alla Montagna (To Tie Oneself to the Mountain), an incredible experience of public art in the remote Sardinian village of Ulassai in the mountains of Ogliastra. At the invitation of the mayor to design a monument to the fallen soldiers, the artist decided to make a monument to the living. Inspired by a Sardinian folk tale about a girl who rescued the community before the collapse of the mountain, Lai created a project in which she included all the villagers of her birthplace. With a web of blue ribbon she connected the houses in the village, where conflicts usually reigned. To finish, climbers connected the ribbon to the summit of the mountain. This public action lasted only one hour and was preserved through photographic and film documentation. Thread and fabric are important elements in Maria Lai’s creative works, since with them she connects the past and the present, tradition and innovation, history and myth, craft and conceptual art.

Adriana Maraž, Krilo, 1976 – 1982

Adriana Maraž was recognized in the 1970s as one of the most important local graphic artists. She developed a special technique of superimposing multicolored layers to created color etchings. Well-known are her graphics of Beidermeier sofas and chairs as well as other objects that open questions about time, identity, image and what hides behind them. The concept of Beidermeier in her works carries its original meaning, that is, a lifestyle that can be described as apolitical, naive, bourgeois, and it represents an attempt to escape to a peaceful, comfortable life. The furniture has anthropomorphic strokes, which the artist connects with surrealistic elements and in some places combines with elements of the absurd.

Milena Usenik, Bow V., 1975, 160x120cm

Discovering the overlooked painting opus of Milena Usenik from the 1970s marks an exciting experience. The artist successful combines two completely fundamentally opposite artistic approaches: elements of pop art and elements of op art. The form of the diptych or the carrier is also one of the key achievements of this period. She directs her motifs toward a critical treatment of the everyday, in which she especially exposes the problem of the motif of a woman’s body as an object of desire in the context of mass culture; treated as an incomplete image, as an object for another. The color pattern takes on a special function with its rhythm, dynamics and fluctuations.

Geta Brătescu, The Studio, 1978

In the staged performance art piece The Studio (1978) Geta Brătescu uses her own body for the research of personal space. The film begins with the scene of a sleeping artist. When the artist awakens, the cameraman (her friend, painter Ion Gregorescu) zooms in with the camera. She begins drawing and marking the floor and the walls and creating an imaginary stage for a performance. Next follows a game of interactions with everyday objects in the environment: with clothing, chairs, pieces of paper. Her movement appears spontaneous, in parts, a surrealist play. The studio is the living space of Geta Brătescu. It is her space of creativity and freedom. She plays with the anthropomorphization of the direct environment and deals with the basic questions of creating, of questioning the body, the subject, nature. The staged performance is intended for the camera, since performance art in public spaces was illegal in 1970s Romania.


The exhibition was curated by Tadej Pogačar.

The exhibition The Victorious Four was created in the production of P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. Institute with the kind cooperation of Ivan Gallery from Bucharest, the Visual Arts Collection of Adriatic Slovenica and Gantar family.