Until Morning!

Photo: Nada Žgank

Solo exhibition, Alkatraz Gallery, AKC Metelkova Mesto, Ljubljana, Slovenia

8 September 2020 – 30 September 2020 “Here I am again. I’m running out of time; the sketch book is full of ideas I don’t remember. The studio is full of trash, I’ve got coffee and milk, the evening is approaching. There’s another long night in front of me. Until morning, the next Wear has to be finished! Until morning! Wear VIII!!” Tomaž Furlan’s retrospective exhibition entitled Until Morning! presents a selection of the artist’s work of the past decade. Primarily, it is composed of two series, namely: Wear (VII-XXII), a series of absurd performative devices, predominatly welded together from parts of iron found by chance; and Morning, a more recent, formally more sculptural series. Tomaž Furlan, otherwise, is an academic sculpturer and a renowned artist, a recepient of The OHO Young Visual Artist Award and The Jakopič Recognition Award. In addition to his artistic work, in the past decade, and alongside his physical work including restoration, he also worked as a director of a youth centre and as a youth worker. He currently works part-time as an assistant at The Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana (ALUO), and as an occasional caretaker and postman there. Furlan grew up in a stonemason family from Škofja Loka, and it is precisely his craftsmanship background that essentially determined his decision to professionally choose art: ‘I was searching for a profession, where I would not be able to find its absolute knowledge. As Einstein said that an expert is someone who has made all mistakes in a certain area, I was searching for a profession where this would not be possible, and art is this kind of a profession, for sure. Art today has no climax.’ Furlan emphasizes the fact that he is both a caretaker and a professor at The Academy with a pround whine. A similar duality can be identified in his works from the series Wear. It is composed clumsily (and hysterically). Its artpieces appear rough and sophisticated at the same time. They are grotesquely realistic, with a certain comic component – one can either contemplate them or laught at them, although mostly one does both. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Furlan’s influences include both Marina Abramović and Charlie Chaplin, as well as Lars von Trier. The series Wear was being produced at the last minute, mostly during the night, a day or two before the exhibition. On the contrary, the series Morning is more deliberate, less impulsive, and conceived more long-term. Wear and Morning were created during the night and in early morning hours before Furlan starts work at The Academy, respectively. In terms of form and style, the two series in question are diametrically opposite. The past decade of Furlan’s life and work can be seen as a move from the night to the day – from being one of thousands to be cheated out of pay during construction industry crisis, to the present day being an established artist on the way of becoming a professor at the university. Nonetheless, the crisis has been accompanying him throughout, it made him stronger, and he internalised it: ‘Nothing can be so bad that it can’t be worse, the worst case scenarios have been realising all the time; which is not completely true, but the feeling never goes away.’ It is characteristic of Furlan that his works are created for exhibitions, just before their openings. After he receives an invitation, he waits for an inspiration, which is born just before the exhibition, out of agony. The works in Wear were thus created in a zealous way. Their ‘use’, too, requires zeal, but here is the catch; Furlan’s works are interactive in the most primary sense of the word: both in the way of production and consumption (usage), they lack distance. Thus, the paradox reveals itself: Furlan’s works are impersonal precisely in that they lack distance. What we see is what we do. Something similar can be said about Tomaž Furlan. We all know that his art is ingeniuos, but no one can say why precisely – his genius is visible at first glance, but it is also impossible to overlook. His artistic works possess not only freshness, humour, and abusurdity, but also incite a moment of wonder and vulgar sublimity. It is similary painful to interpret his works, as the interpretations vary from art history to useless theory in the sense of ‘he is interested in the material’ or ‘postfordism’. The artist himself best defines his works, when he talks about Wear XVII: ‘It is an attempt at fighting banality with stupidity.’

Miha Turk

More on: Alkatraz Gallery