“Ever since I can remember, questions and fantasies about the perfect paradise have appealed to me. My first year at the art academy was an almost heavenly experience and excitement, a fulfillment of a long yearning and waiting to begin schooling as a painter. The timelessness of the feeling of youth was achieved in a heavenly delight.”
MIRACLE GRECQUE is the name of the exhibition and its central exhibit: graphic maps by Tomislav Buntak (published in March 2023). This bibliophile edition was published on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the graphic and bibliophile editions of the Biškupić Collection (1972 – 2022). Valuing the best – and this includes the recent portfolio: Buntak, by Tomislav Buntak and Luko Paljetek – from the Croatian modern and contemporary cultural heritage, intertwines the worlds of art with the aim of presenting the best works of Croatian culture. In addition to the graphic map, we enriched the exhibition and completed the author’s signature with his drawings and paintings from the Biškupić Collection.
While previously, among other things, he interpreted the origins of Mesopotamia and Egyptian tomb paintings, the Cretan-Minoan Secession, the smile of the archaic Kuros, as well as medieval and nineteenth-century symbolism and post-impressionism, with these etchings the artist challenges the more classical canons of antiquity, the Renaissance and the stylization of his beloved comics.
We see a fantastical primordial image of pristine nature, Buntak’s familiar and exotic flora and fauna, as well as nude figures, men, women and children and symbolic humans creations such as Doric and Corinthian columns, pavilions, ships, pagodas… From the ancient tetrad, Buntak depicts water, earth and air, unless we interpret fire as an equivalent of light. Buntak’s depiction of nudity is beautiful, because it is natural, but in a certain way also asexual, simultaneously hinted at and unveiled; untabooed, but rather liberated. Nudity that is stripped down and yet ideal. The naturalness of the nude figures, living and acting unaware of our gaze, is equivalent to the freedom of existence and living, which, through the artist’s staging, is determined by the suggestion of halted movements and initiated stillness.
Buntak employs contours, as in comics, to outline the shape of the body, and then uses short lines that follow the form to illustrate the volume and mass of the body; filled lines define those parts in shadow while the blank spaces of the paper remain illuminated. In this way, the artist achieves strong contrasts of light and shadow, thereby bringing human figures to the foreground, creating a clear distinction from the rest of the scene, which is also saturated with linear descriptions. The natural environment is hushed by the continuous horizontal direction of densely arranged lines and transforms into an illusionistic variant of the Garden of Eden, reminiscent of Gauguin’s paintings, whose symbolic portrayal of Tahitians in a tropical setting invites the viewer to contemplate on the purpose of life.
(from the text of Željko Marciuš)