Text by: Noel Kelly
Everything Starts at Zero Point, ŠKUC Gallery, Ljubljana, Exhibition Catalogue / 53rd Venice Biennial - Slovenian Pavilion, 2009
Through drawing, painting, and installation, Miha Štrukelj systematically abstracts reality and leaves us with a multilayered schema of lines and contours. If we look at Štrukelj through twentieth century eyes, architecture and nature appear to dissolve. They are developed as a premeditated setting in which precise details are subordinated to a reduction of reality and time. Instead, Štrukelj transverses this form of artistic language, digital media and established formulaic methods with a great freedom from convention. He provides backdrops that are simultaneously engaged, realistic and yet potentially disaffected. He strips decoration and creates an absorbed illusion of reality through authentic multifaceted suggestions of potentially real topologies.
Štrukelj’s abstractions are controlled through his own methodology and the constraints of his selected framework. This allows him to map the position of his new viewpoint of the world. For him a building is not just a component to be placed within some modernist grid, a motif that appears across the entirety of Štrukelj’s practice, instead it is an angular pattern that we may find both contradictory and complex.
Even as he may appear as a post-Luddite in his denial and mimicry of the advances of digital imaging, he returns to ask why these tools were created, and argues the situation of their necessity. Looking at the beginning, the requirement and the needs, he takes ownership and using his own prescribed mathematical references he provides within his works faint notes that supply clarifications of his approach to constructed reality.
For Štrukelj, everything starts at this zero point, x = 0, y = 0. It is from here that the placement of buildings, the positioning of street furniture, and subsequently the potential placement of civilization within the environmental framework will begin. His only apparent absolute is the use of the grid. The scale and ratio of the grid may be changed as its representation responds to Štrukelj’s need to organise an almost temporal arrangement. With such instability social order is removed. His multi-dimensional figures are caught in time. And yet, they, like our perception, cannot remain static. Like the grid, they are free to change and adapt their scale to requirements. It is with these nuanced changes in scale that Štrukelj portrays the monumental brutalism of architecture, and questions the conditions of concrete human existence.
Individuals form a solid yet minimally detailed counterpoint to their surroundings and to each other. Štrukelj utilises this apparently simple existential context to position his figures. These important figures provide specific references to his multi-layered ideal of composition and its significance to the whole. Without these layers we would see abandoned figures and landscapes, with them we see how very transient we are. The figures are like melted nomads of time. Their journey from the zero point forms a critical question that permeates all of Štrukelj’s work as to what can we really nominate as existing a priori in the world today. Through this important consideration he questions the efficacy of the need to return to our point of origin. Yet, this is far from superficial erudition. Instead his appropriation of mathematical theory, as a form of scientific explanatory thought, develops multiple narratives limited only by his chosen constraint of the grid.