EXPERIENCE 48700 at Galerie Kresija is Andrea Zabric’s (b. 1994) first solo exhibition. The number of the title refers to one of the organic blacks she uses in her work.
Reacting to the demands of the gallery’s long open space, Zabric has produced several large monochrome paintings, particles suspended in lacquer, sprayed, sprinkled and rubbed across wooden panels. These she juxtaposes with her signature pigment objects, fragile cuboids of tightly pressed raw colour. The work is minimal and intense, clearly a result of a laborious process yet without any obvious marks left by the artist’s hand. Density of colour is combined with a fragility of matter.
Her current practice developed out of her 2017 Jahresausstellung at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. For the first time she had shown a series of works that together formed a coherent, if somewhat playful group. There were pastel coloured, painting-type works hanging on the walls (most rectangular, one circular), two pieces leaning against the walls and some more self-standing, all bound together by the various marks left behind by the painting process, whether on the floor or on the edges of the paintings themselves. What was left behind on and around the edges was as important as the works themselves, not only lending the exhibition a soft, airbrushed glow, but also binding the work together, in such a way that one key concept was manifest. This, most simply put, is pigment.
As a man-made product, pigment has a history, closely tied with a history of painting. One could argue that there would have been no Modernism, where it not for the advancements of the Industrial Revolution, the discovery of inorganic minerals and the the collapsible metal paint tube widening the spectrum of both colour and possibilities for artists. Pigment marked the beginning of an industrialisation and commercialisation against which painting has increasingly defined itself.
Yet Zabric is less interested in the art history her choice of material evokes, than in our experience of this material and making it as vivid as possible - hence the shift in her work away from applying pigment on panel, to presenting it directly, ready-pressed. The modern day fluorescent pigments that appeared and reappeared on, around and behind panels in 2017, are now compact bodies of a single, historical chemical, carefully researched and chosen by the artist. For her graduate show in 2018, her installation was far more spare, showcasing the two cubes of almost solid ochre and black. EXPERIENCE 48700 continues in the same vein.
Her newer work falls under the monochrome umbrella, which art historically would include Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, Colour field painting, Neo-dada and Minimalism. Of these, Yves Klein is perhaps best know for using pigment to produce his vivid blue canvases, but more recently pigments were to be part of Anish Kapoor’s breakthrough work. Uniting these various artists is the spiritual element evoked by the purity of raw pigment, metaphysical and a little humorous in Klein, celebratory, mythological and symbolic in Kapoor. Zabric’s work is far less monumental in scope and more invested having an intimate relation with the viewer. The work is human in scale, we could pick up one of the fragile pigment blocks and feel their weight. We marvel at a cube of white we could fit in our hand.
Marking out her work as different is the kind of wonderment more common in science, of the researcher confronted with their discovery for the first time.
Text by Magdalena Wisniowska