Tomo Savić-Gecan

Untitled 2017

15.12.2017. - 13.1.2018.


The artistic work of Tomo Savić-Gecan balances between several presumptions: between reality and the one who experiences it there exists a fissure. The world in its totality from one spatiotemporal point is endless. Spatiotemporal discontinuity makes reality fragmented. The experiential levels are various.

With its every appearance on the exhibition scene the concept of exhibiting crumbles. Not due to the disbelief in the presentation, but in the impossibilities that in a single limited place such as a gallery room, it encompasses and displays the processes, the situations and relationships which exceed the dimensions of the present, the visible here and now. An exhibition spreads necessarily outside of the scope of the visually insufficient space, into the field of the imagination and abstract understanding. Not offering an ounce of excitement. As though deaf and blind to the beauty of reality, the appearance of an exhibition reduces to a meagre non-event in which the observer needs only to refer.[1]

Awaiting the public in the Mali Salon is an all-pervading void, leaving an impression that they have arrived too early or too late at the exhibition. The instructions relate how in the background there stands a map whose contours mark three locations at which the author performs the work at various times: in 2005 in the Établissement d'en face Gallery in Brussels, 2015 in Antwerp’s (On)begane Grond and in the present in the Mali Salon. The path which Tomo Savić-Gecan writes connecting these three places began with the process of removing the window glass from the exhibition space in Brussels and re-melting the glass into glasses which were used to serve drinks at the opening of the same exhibition. In 2015 the exterior wall of the (On)begane Grond was painted with transparent paint into which was mixed a ground glass from the previous exhibition, which he also does in the Mali Salon mixing glass powder in the paint for painting the whole exhibition space. By developing a package of conceptual attempts at the presentation of invisible routes and ramifications by the cartography of the transformations and expansion, Savić-Gecan explains that his artistic activity is comparable with the model of rhizome. The just described connecting of heterogeneous entities – the window glass, the glasses, the wall – shows how the process flows in all directions, wherein any point can come into contact with any other - Établissement d'en face – (On)begane Grond – Mali Salon, or the window – wall – opening – paint – gallery… The backbone of any such procedure is the avoiding with a linear movement, the random connection of locations that does not follow any kind of model, or instruction for mapping.[2] Simultaneously every such connection is breakable, and open for new lines of connection so we cannot be sure that it is, with the unpredictable digressions, the end, and that to the triangle of Brussels – Antwerp – Rijeka, a fourth element will not be added, some subsequent place, time, or situation. So I cannot even think about the Rijeka episode in Mali Salon separately from the events that preceded.

The absence of an object at his exhibition has a direct connection with the questions which minimalists and conceptual artists dealt with in the 60s and 70s, however, he also exceeds them likewise. Savić-Gecan does not ask how to demonstrate anything, or how to participate and contribute to the exhibition, and yet do nothing.[3] Or how to be subversive towards the dominant model of exhibiting.[4] Nor does the material condition of something interest him. By removing the window from the Brussels gallery and transposing it into glasses, he summarised the idea of opening on two levels – he literally opened the gallery and at the same time he contributed to the convention of opening as a social event which inevitably happens with a glass


He strips bare the freshly painted Mali Salon, and only thereby leaving it empty in the real sense he opens it – not displaying anything, apart from the space itself. This kind of gesture confirms Savić-Gecan as one of the artists who in the 90s actualised the questions of nature and the legitimacy of art. His work, on the whole, is a prototype of anti-popular art.[5] To the extent in which it does not address the majority and leaves the public with a hungry picture and content.

Savić-Gecan wonders how to touch totality, how to comprehend the multifaceted and mutually connected reality. Or more precisely: in which way is all of this around us one whole? By releasing the old paradigms of presentation, of reduction and the trace of reality, he comes across the construction of the rhizome system defined by the endlessness of the directions of movement and relationships. His cartographic expansions unpresented within the common boundaries of visual creation, act as an amorphous continuum within which the exchange of states lasts: the dislocated window was relocated again. The rhizome wisdom of these procedures could be recognised as rude cynicism, simply because it offends the eye, however, the application of the glass powder of the glass on the wall of the Mali Salon, is identical to the relationship of a flower and the insect which circulates the pollen and reterritorises it.[6] Savić-Gecan’s abstract jigsaws emerge on the edge of materiality, not belonging to any one territory and adopting each one.


Sabina Salamon


[1] This concerns an extremely unpresented practice, which according to the typology of the relation towards the visible could be classified in the order of an anti-ocularocentristic method. See: Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes, The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought.

[2] I cite several examples of the connection of various towns and places by the projects arranged in chronological order: 1995. - MSU, Zagreb – Sports hall, Zagreb; 2001. Utrecht, Begane Grond - Shopping Mall, Zagreb; 2004 - PS1 (NYC) - square in Slovenia.

[3] The conceptual artist Keith Arnatt for example raised this issue, whilst in 1958 Yves Klein emptied the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris with the intention of making a space without dimensions, dealing with the possibility of transcendence.

[4] In 1969 Goran Trbuljak stuck his finger periodically through the keyhole of the entrance door of the Modern Gallery in Zagreb without the management's knowledge. Robert Barry with the exhibition Closed announced that the Eugenia Butler gallery in Los Angeles would be closed, 1969-70, for the duration, interested in immateriality via the possibility of emptiness.

[5] In a work from 1925 José Ortega y Gasset considered all modern art unpopular according to the criterion of the adoptability of the majority. Anti-popular art which creates an unfriendly majority is a step further; in Dehumanizacija umjetnosti, Litteris, Zagreb, 2007.

[6] The term indicates the rhizome principle of functioning in the plant and animal world. The interconnections of orchids and wasps are a frequent example. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari:Capitalism and Schiophrenia 2, a Thousand Plateaus, The Athlone Press, London, reprinted 1999, p 10.