The exhibition of the Birds (Ptice) series of drawings by Zagreb-based academy educated painter Ivana Vulić is open to the public from the 5th to 23rd of June.

The Dubrovnik branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation is hosting a presentation of the Birds (Ptice) series of drawings by Zagreb-based academy educated painter Ivana Vulić. The exhibition opens to the public on the 5th of June at the Croatian Heritage Foundation gallery (No. 7 Petilovrijenci in Dubrovnik) and runs through to the 23rd of June. The Croatian Heritage Foundation exhibition programme features Croatian artists from abroad with the objective of building bridges of culture between emigrant and homeland Croatia and to exhibit the work of renowned Croatian artists when the greatest number of emigrant Croatians are visiting Dubrovnik.
In the foreword to the exhibition catalogue art historian Marin Ivanović writes: “After a very successful series featuring people applying (allegedly medicinal) mud on a beach somewhere, Ivana Vulić has rounded off her new Birds series, reaffirming that her interest for “peripheral” and apparently insignificant topics is equal to the tenacity of the realistic procédé that is currently seeing an enviable number of apologists on the Croatian painting scene. The New Croatian Realism exhibition of 2013 speaks volumes to this effect, demonstrating that there is a generational consensus with regard to a specific figural approach to painting.
In mythology, history and the cult, birds appear in great frequency and great difference of meaning – from the Egyptian phoenix, the Greek harpy and the Aztec god Quetzalcoatla, various birds of magical names in Japan, Persia and India to the heraldic gryphon, the Talmudic Ziza and Bar Juchne, the Nordic birds and Odin’s helpers and finally the Christian symbolism of the raven (St Elijah, St Paul the Anchorite), the dove (Noah, the Holy Spirit) and the pelican (which feeds its young with its blood, the symbol of Jesus Christ). Equally numerous are many artistic themes, also in differing contexts, from trepidation and the grotesque to romantic and beautiful, from the Albatross of Charles Baudelaire and the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to the hankering for flight and freedom in Giacomo Leopardi’s The Solitary Bird, Patrick Süskind’s psychological Pigeon, Edgar Allan Poe’s gloomy The Raven and Daphne du Maurier’s short story Birds about birds terrorising the inhabitants of Cornwall, which Alfred Hitchcock rendered as a thriller for the silver screen. The pigeons that carried messages during both World Wars have been decorated with medals. They are also vectors for disease.
Ivana Vulić draws on this very broad register of established meanings and personal associations and takes a few of them as the topics of her drawings. The Birds (Ptice) installation of 2011 she showed at the Kiosk Gallery in Zagreb is important for the significance it bears, and not only on account of the motif itself. In this concrete case the artist has, by her multiplication of origami birds and their distribution in space, created the impression of mass, the impersonality of individual birds and, at the same time, the potential these cumulative number of small bodies possess, since their grouping in a great flock imparts the impression that they might lift the roof off the gallery. The approach to the drawings that are exhibited at this present showing is quite different – the artist has imparted individuality to each bird – it has become the motif of diverse characteristics, from dead sparrows the likes of which we see frequently in cities, where they assume for this artist the symbolism of alienation, fragility and of transience, to the triumphant attitude of a tiny executioner swallowing worms. Their presence in urban settings, adaptation to life among humans, is illustrated by the pigeon sitting on the head of a sculpture-monument, from antiquity nota bene, which imparts a complex layered contextualisation to the cited temporal distance of the idea of the coexistence of man and birds. The residua of surrealism (or the Medieval mystic drôle and decorative plastic) is embodied in the gouache of a weeping sparrow whose wing is shaped like a fish.
Triviality, the quotidian and the scene genre are interesting to Ivana Vulić because the insignificance of a dead sparrow in our lives can only assume significance by the apotheosis of the same scene in an art gallery. Imparting birds with the power of the collective, as is done in the cited installation, which could be faintly associated with the idea of Hitchcock’s Birds or an individualisation and pedantic mimetic approach that, as a result of its existential angst, tangentially touches upon Süskind’s Pigeon, again boils down to the fact that depictions of birds are not made for the sake of the birds but rather on account of the artist’s idea of the world and of herself in it.”

Text by: Maja Mozara