Problems with predecessors, 2013
ca. 155 x 185 cm
edition of 1 + 1 A.P.
2013, If you will it, it is not a dream, group show, Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, NL
2013, Art Basel, Basel
"Problems with predecessors" is based on an illustration made in 1950s as a reaction on a conflict between EXAT51 and artist and painter Edo Murtic concerning the decoration of the Ritz Bar in Zagreb. The cause of the discussion was not only the quality of painting and not even (simply) personal relations or a struggle for the position in the art scene, but it concerned profoundly different views on the social role of art and the manner in which it plays that role.
EXAT believed in the possibility of modern abstract art to contribute to the development of contemporary society. But there was resitance against abstract art of the EXAT kind in the circle of the advocates of the 'continuity of academic bourgeois art" which insisted on strict structural division of different art areas and supported the dominant position of traditionally understood 'fine art'.
The conflict today is interpreted as a conflict between 2 concepts of abstract art.
Even though at its beginnings EXAT51 as a collective was stronger, larger in size, better organised, and theoretically much better articulated, the "Murtic style" current of lyrical abstract individualism would later prevail. Different forms of lyrical abstraction would be the ones to represent the kind of contemporary art we can label "socialism aestheticism" a certain academic-oriented version of (moderate) modernism.
"Problems with predecessors" has two different layers of meaning. One where the 1950s illustration is partly erased. With this process Maljkovic illustrates the disappearing of the meaning of the whole discussion. The 2nd layer is his personal participation or attempt to participate in a certain problem that has became irrelevant. We no longer have any kind of a discussion about the decorative elements in public spaces.