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Substances -

mountain Velebit; 


206 x 111 x 4,5 cm; 

wood, paper, iron, acryl...;

1987 - 88

Marko Tušek

Substances - Mountain Velebit

Let there be naked real substance... merely tactile, stripped of all illusion 
(My entry into the modern painting of the first half of the twentieth century)

Technology. Technology may indeed seem of marginal consequence to the very essence of a painting, but there is no denying that for example the illusionistic technique of the Renaissance underwent nothing less than an evolutionistic development, tailor-made according to the needs of illusionistic painting. The pigments were ground to such a fine extent that they could no longer reveal the information concerning their own third dimension to the naked eye. For cohesion, linseed oil was used which - unlike the older techniques - enables exceptionally soft modulation, so crucial when it comes to imitating depth. The very carrier of the picture evolved from the still somewhat "crooked" plank or board to a perfectly straight canvas, stretched over a specific frame. The canvas was then treated with glue-chalk primer and polished to perfect smoothness. The surface of the graphic plane thus retained no trace of information concerning the third dimension. The tri-dimensionality of the carrier was indicated solely by the margins. And when even these were being "masked by the gilded baroque frame", a true window came into existence. In this manner, there came into existence the perfect painting technology calibrated according to the needs of the illusionary breakthrough of an otherwise two-dimensional basis for an image.

Many artists of contemporary times who have faced the task of eliminating the illusion from the painting before me were quite untroubled while using the "renaissance" technology  which was oriented towards the very opposite goal - the nullification of the concreteness of painting materials.

And so... according to new needs, let there be a new technology! Roughly ground old paper, rusty wires, ancient rags, paper, cardboard, glue, modelling mass, metal mesh, wooden flotsam, ropes, nails, planks, sand..., all of it kneaded into a new homogenous body of a painting. The painting's colours were the colours of the components that had been kneaded into it, while the lines hadn't been drawn by a brush but rather by the tangled rope, branches, nails..., criss-crossing their voyage through the body of the painting.  This body comprised the entire span from the almost rough objects to the finer materials. There was some space left for "the old colours out of the tube", but only some.

Substances. I have enhanced the old metal mesh with some additional old wires - as if I were reinforcing a concrete slab. Then on this basis I added roughly ground old newspaper mixed with glue, then stretched the mixture into a sort of a wrinkled plane. Also there were planks, ropes and nails. With a paintbrush so large it could almost be a whiskbroom I put on several darker varnish in order to stabilize the composition of the painting ; on top I put a zone of blue, glossily lacquered paint. This is at the same time the sole classical colour used in the painting.

Velebit. First there were substances and while I have been convinced that I was operating solely with them, the painting bore their name and their name alone. But the more distant my first inception of this painting, the more I had to admit that all the time there had been, at the back of my mind, something else in the background. Memories and impressions, all my stored viewpoints had been there. Several vistas of something vast by the edge of the sea, soothingly magnificent, shaped by the weather and the millennia into a rough rocky mass. There was no other option but concede it the second part of its name - Velebit.

Decision I. Despite my quite different plans for this painting I was forced to acknowledge the simultaneousness of diversity. Willy-nilly, the body of the painting is at the same time a concrete tri-dimensional object as well as a place for the illusionary happening. This means that if I wish to accept the painting as it is in its own uniqueness and live with it while forming a progressively harmonious relation towards it, my only recourse is to adopt the pragmatical decision to make sense of the cohabitation of both reality and illusion.

The painting as an object is fond of communicating with space - the real space surrounding it. This is why it tends to sweep up this space and expand - to dissipate its own body into this space. It is possible the process never ceases. The painting descends down the wall, but the issues of "Painting?" then also dissolve into the surroundings and towards levels entirely new. The body of the painting becomes so complex that, for its creator, the very manipulation of the whole becomes questionable. Also questionable: the very definition of the painting.

Decision II. Wishing my energy, attention and sensibility not to dwindle too significantly due to the aforementioned complexity, and also wishing my painting not to escape from the wall into the surroundings and transform into something altogether different, I have adopted a pragmatical decision, that is to say some sort of a loose, private definition of the painting. After all, I have initially set out to occupy myself with the painting?! The painting is therefore something (seen from the viewpoint of physical reality) which is mostly positioned up on a wall and is also a theatre for condensed visualness and visual sensibility.

E - 70; 


226 x 192 x 12 cm;

wood, sand, paper, acryl...; 1991;

(Modern Gallery Ljubljana)

I am standing by the edge of the road. The air is dry and dusty. A trailer truck drives by. It is coming,... then it is here and in a fraction of a second it is gone. Dust. Then, once again, silence. I rewind the occurrence, I slow it down and observe what really happened, what sort of an encounter this really was. The truck, me and the surroundings. The entire event - both in the sense of its visuals and the experience itself - is in my mind somehow "condensed into a unified image" that comprises the event from its beginning to its end, so I can see it much more clearly. This is also my method for the construction of paintings, but the "events" they consist of are more complex and pertain to concepts that, for me, are much more crucial.



250 x 125 x 20 cm; 

wood, sand, paper, glass, acrylic...;

1989 - 90

Et in Arcadia ego

Kalamaki...the wild shores, dunes, waves and tufts of grass. A sandstorm. Nature. At a first glance, it is chaos, but actually everything is in perfect order. Many times have I stood, stupefied, upon a wild shore or hitherto untouched pebbly ground, washed up here by the river in a recent flood... The first impression is that of a bomb having just exploded, everything vehemently scattered... but when you look more closely, every single grain is in its place. The pebbles and the piled up branches bespeak the nature of what had just occurred. So what is the powerful attraction? Perhaps it is a sort of liberation inherent in this nature - a meaning, a vastness and a complexity. This is what man has lost when he built his civilisation and retreated into it.

Regarding my painting, I once believed I was occupying myself with a purely graphic and professionally engaged issues. Systematic, strict, disciplined. In time, I was forced to admit that willy-nilly, painting is also about other, obviously more important processes than painting itself. We are much fonder of capably discussing art than unmasking its uncertain substrata and admitting how little it is we really know of the Essence. I had to admit to myself that in the background, there is always a special sort of pondering I have no control over. The painting is nothing more than a by-product of these mental(?), meditative processes - when completed, it is interesting, but still little more than a sort of refuse. It is like a pebbly beach that remains when the river retreats. Each of us, probably, cultivates within an imagining of a sort of essence to it all... a sort of image of the ideal we then try to merge with our everyday lives. But we are troubled by this image of the ideal usually not being very clear. Arcadia? It would seem we have already tasted it, perhaps it had been promised us, perhaps it had even been our home but we had, in some unexplained way, lost it? And on the other hand, the clarity of our vision is whittled away by everyday life with its everyday labyrinths. Perhaps this is why the vast landscape, the open sky and the depth of the sea's horizon have such a soothing effect on the clarity of my thoughts and imaginings, inviting me to undertake a journey.

Et in Arcádia Ego; 


240 x 100 x 15 cm;

wood, paper, acrylic...; 



High. 2400 metres above sea level.. A clear and sunny winter day with snow squishing underfoot. As I gaze vertically above, I am no longer certain whether the sky above me is still blue or altogether black. Through the aperture in the sky I am gazing straight into the universe.

ZENIT 12:47; 


78 x 41 x 5 cm; 

wood, canvas, paper, acrylic...;




100 x 80 x 5 cm;

wood, canvas, paper, acrylic...; 2003


Day is turning into evening. I sit down at the edge of a cliff. There are birds in the nearby bushes, in front of me only sea and an infinite void. The silent vastness of the horizon in all its might. Although perfect quiet so I can hear my body, I can sense a sound from beyond the horizon, some sort of soft vibration. A growing certainty there is something behind the horizon (but not, according to the map, Italy). It appears everything is but a veil, slowly falling off. A mist betraying now something and then something. As if the space itself was opening while above, a much vaster, unfathomable breadth is about to unveil its placid, glorious glow. It doesn't merely promise to liberate us from our confines, it is about to change our entire lives.

Basement. Squatting on the floor, I am piecing together forgotten fragments onto the canvas. I cut out an opening to provide the nascent image with a modicum of space. I am gluing and coating it with paper. Then I am slowly adding colour to the glue and the tiny detritus. First the dark and the grey that connect the relief into a cohesive body. Layer after layer, the colours and fragments interweave. In some places, the body of the painting is becoming homogenous, in others - due to the number of layers - riddled with tiny holes and other quite extraordinary spaces. I am now applying blue. First layer, then the second... The beforehand obvious concreteness is being somehow negated by the blue, as if everything is levitating within a new space while in the very middle, there yawns a sudden depth. It is inviting, not unlike a broad landscape. But it is no longer the depth of the horizon, it is rather my own space - a space I have yet to enter. I believe this is where I'm headed.

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