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Pioneer of Geometric Abstraction - Ivan Picelj in his First UK Solo Show at Cortesi Gallery

  • Ivan Picelj exhibition
May 16, 2016
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

As a dynamic artistic movement dedicated to visual research in the 1960s and 70s Croatia, New Tendencies presented a unique artistic platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences within art, natural sciences and engineering and a point of initiation for aesthetics and media-theoretical thought. There is no better opportunity to revisit and re-examine this exciting period than with the exhibition of the Croatian artist Ivan Picelj, one of the founders of the New Tendencies movement. The exhibition entitled The Concrete Utopia: Ivan Picelj and New Tendencies 1961–1973 at Cortesi Gallery will explore the neo avant-garde of the sixties and seventies through the work of one of its most important figures.

Ivan Picelj exhibition
Left: Ivan Picelj, Candra, 1965 / Right: Ivan Picelj, CTS-I, 1966

A Comprehensive Retrospective

The retrospective will feature more than 40 works by Picelj exploring the significant developments in his artistic career. Celebrated for pursuing the perfect relationship between perception and knowledge and deeply dedicated to rigorous ideation and repetition, his forms are a kind of concrete utopia for better understanding and experiencing of the everyday in life. Involved in various mediums and artistic practices including painting, architecture, graphic design of posters, catalogues and magazines, Ivan Picelj has played a central role in the New Tendencies movement. He has produced various graphic design works for prominent artists he associated with including Jean Arp, Pablo Picasso, Victor Vasarely, Jesus Rafael Soto and Bruno Munari.

Ivan Picelj exhibition
Left: Ivan Picelj, Surface LIX, 1964 / Right: Picelj, Surface XXX, 1963

Ivan Picelj and New Tendencies

Picelj has abandoned his formal art studies and got involved in experimental research outside of the official art language of that time. After being involved in the practice of EXAT 51 group in the 1950s, the first Yugoslavian abstract art group that advocated the synthesis of all visual arts, Picelj was one of the founders of New Tendencies movement in the 1960s that continued the development of EXAT 51 ideas and formed part of the broader European post-informel art movement. He wrote the movement’s manifesto in 1962 entitled For Active Art where he presented his tendencies toward avant-garde thinking. The movement brought together an exceptional group of artists and critics from around the world that opposed the mystification of the artist as a genius and propagated the complete reorganization of artistic practice with respect to the market and the public. Through various events and publications, the movement contributed to the transition in which the computer was perceived as an artistic tool.

Ivan Picelj exhibition
Left: Ivan Picelj, CM-3-II, 1964-66 / Right: Ivan Picelj, Untitled, from the Cyclophoria project, 1971

Ivan Picelj Exhibition at Cortesi Gallery

The exhibition will be realized in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb which will loan several outstanding works, and with the enthusiastic support of artist’s daughter Anja Picelj-Kosak. The exhibition The Concrete Utopia: Ivan Picelj and New Tendencies 1961–1973 will be on show at the Cortesi Gallery in London from May 26th till July 22nd, 2016. The exhibition will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue which features an essay by the curator Ilaria Bignotti, an introduction by Snježana Pintarić, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, as well as a compilation of research notes, documents and photographs.

Featured image: Ivan Picelj, Hetos 2, 1971. All images courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; Anja Picelj-Kosak, photo by Damir Fabijanić.