Text by: Igor Zabel
BLOOD & HONEY; FUTURE IS IN THE BALKANS
Exhibition Catalogue; Samlung Essl Colection, Klosterneuburg, Wien, 2003
In the world as it is depicted by Miha Štrukelj, the traditional difference between objective world and images, between reality and illusion is disappearing. The new technologies for mass production and distribution of images have permeated the world and transformed it radically. Štrukelj’s work might indicate the question about the possibility of a realist painting in contemporary world. The subjects of his paintings are primarily images, taken from the media, from the web, from computer games, etc. The artist uses the traditional technique of oil on canvas and deliberately includes references to academic realist painting. One could, however, find another possible reference in his painting, namely to the photorealism of the 60s and 70s. The difference here is, however, that his way of painting doesn’t indicates a photograph but a digital image on the screen. Brushstrokes make possible a multiple reading, opening the issue of representation, depiction and realism in contemporary world. At the same time, however, they preserve an autonomous, self-sufficient visual value.
In referring to the idea of realism in Štrukelj’s paintings, one could be reminded of the old paradox: “How can you be a realist if nothing's real?” But these paintings certainly do not indicate that “nothing is real”. Rather, they depict a world where illusion and reality have merged and are now inseparable. The spectacular, terribly attractive visual reality of computer games, for example, is related to the repressed reality of killing and destruction in actual wars. And there are always brutal facts that cannot be transformed and consumed by the power of image making. These facts form the horizon of the world as depicted by Štrukelj, and his paintings have the power to make us aware of it.