The Stable in English language has various meanings, one of them being also steady, durable and resistant. The Slovenian artist Enej Gala confronts rural culture of his country of origin and the traditions of a nation in his solo exhibition in A plus A Gallery. However, taking into account strong and universal interest of art regarding the relationship between the old world of traditions and the contemporaneity, Gala does not stop at the point of the dialog with rural environment that has been the basis of Slovenian culture for centuries, but develops the comparison between art and agriculture up to a very contemporary world of hunting; in The Stable there is represented the hunt for the depiction of history, the hunt for the way that we use to represent economic and cultural processes, in the manner in which – on a personal level and on a national scale – we represent ourselves.
The concept of the exhibition develops along a path that confronts poems taken from The Book of Things (Knjiga reči) of Aleš Šteger, a contemporary Slovenian writer. Enej Gala is fascinated by the poetry of this Slovenian author and by the dialectical relationship between writing and painting, between word and image, thus wanting to emphasize the importance of the process by which knowledge and wisdom, irony and cunning, but also superstitions and ingenuity of the folk-tale were transmitted through writing and oral traditions, in synchronism with the history of the visual arts.
In Gala’s paintings, constant dialogue between hyper-realistic, almost photographic elements and objects and scenarios with very abstract and opaque foregrounds and backgrounds force the observer to constantly change the point of view, and to adjust their perception to the content. The strategies with which the artist confronts the mythological narrative, the various concepts of history and the relationship between tradition and contemporaneity, are on the other hand characterized by a great capacity for mediation and reflection. With this exceptional technique of his own, Gala follows a short circuit in human perception to reveal the ideological viewpoints within the image. In Enej Gala’s art, a particular symbolism – the Slovenian – is capable to elevate itself into the universal human symbolism. The distinctive stroke of his work lies in the methods that he uses to constantly make fun of cultural, economic and ideological myths of the past and the present; and it is in the latest that we find common points with the concept of history of Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka.The first work that catches the eye in the showcase of A plus A Gallery is Hayrack, which is directly inspired by the homonymic poems written by Aleš Šteger and which is also one of the most characteristic symbols belonging to Slovenian culture. A hayrack is a permanent structure normally made of wood and used to dry grass and other fodder. Although originally Slovenian, similar structures can also be found in Northern Italy, Austria and Southern Germany. Gala has turned this national symbol in an abacus – with unparallel bars and tumors instead of coins or beads used for the calculations.
The omnipresent connection with nature, along with the expressiveness of the language and art, is probably the only real stroke of Slovenian identity whose borders and political systems changed over the centuries. Trying not to disregard the reflection of the connection with nature, which is often present in Gala’s works, also the pagan aspect of the cultural heritage can be retraced; therefore carnival masks appear, with their horns and tails, skins and evil, fantastic, grotesque kits linking the historical consciousness to the corporeal, material world. This evaluation may be the strategy of every human being for dealing with the present-day impasse demanding humans to be both – hunter and prey, producer and consumer of images, as well as for addressing the dialectic between community and individuality in a world in which new forms of capitalism and economics have emerged.
The exhibition is produced with the support of Pixartprinting