How can we evaluate the painter MIrko Malle and his exhibition “Iz dnevnika nekega miniaturista” (From a miniaturist’s diary) in the Hostel Celica’s “Srečišče” (Meeting Point) Gallery? Will it bring us a new imagery? Will it present us a thoroughly elaborate painting in which we could recognize the shapes of a new figural art or Hyperralism, a trace of an abstract Expressionism or a more concrete Neo-Impressionism? Does it introduce us to the techniques and approaches of Assemblage or Neo-Dada, Pop or Op art, Kineticism, Conceptualism or a completely new Concretism? The answer is, Malle will present all of this and so much more. More than could be caught in the theoretical discourse, embraced as concepts, or understood beyond the boundaries of various “isms”. He will be exhibiting fragments of his own world, surrendering them and allowing them to form a new whole.
Malle’s exhibition “Dnevnik nekega miniaturista” contains many layers. The core of his circular miniatures both hides and exposes the skills of an exceptional painter, they are witness to an entire year of daily creativity. His artwork ranges from sketchbook diaries from the Austrian army to various recycled collages that were created in a by-the-way manner and managed to slipped past the metaphorical guards of the author’s conscious will; it blossoms through the numerous (too frequently unjustly overlooked) processes which accompany the creative life of a painter, to which one does not usually pay attention, except when cleaning and erasing them. Whereas here, the marginal processes of painting are being brought back from oblivion to the very core of the exhibition. This game of coincidence might remind you of the gestural painting of Jackson Pollock. However, this American expressionist who used not walls but floors to create his artwork was still the main actor of all his processes, whereas Malle, time and time again, gathers even that which eluded him and his students and escaped beyond the margins of the painting. Even more, he is also interested in the metamorphosis of the sheets of paper that occurs when batik is being hung to dry above them or when paint is dripping down from paintings, but he also collects and sifts through those sheets of paper into which painters wiped their hands or brushes. Ever since the first cave paintings, hand print art has been a key challenge of the artistic handicraft. A collage is hence transformed into a unit of recycled elements. This colour ecology and endless recycling, which does not only surpass the borders of the painting but also questions all other boundaries, creates new relationships in which the dividing line between the image and the concept is at least blurred if not completely erased.
Also, the miniatures are created in a special atmosphere of concentration, meditation and a certain contemplation, in which the initial stroke, which is not just a result of rational thinking but rather an unconscious impulse, invites all the following movements to join in the relationship. The perspective which opens in that way is no longer just external, but internal, not linear but circular, not determined by a point. The decisive element is the circle, and the redemptive role belongs to the entire circuit. The underlying geometry is no longer Euclidean; neither is it non-Euclidean; a disappearing point of perspective which must remain weak and must not be replaced by one of power, even though a new Power Point is being offered to us with every step we take. The painter Mirko Malle endures in this position and creates a small space that can resemble a cell or a planet, depending from which perspective we gaze upon it; through a microscope or a telescope. The best approach, however, is with the naked eye and an unburdened heart. Each painted planet is sufficiently small to offer a shelter to a new little prince, each cell large enough to became source of new life, and the space between is where the seeds of growth for new creative ardour float. The scale here is no longer that important, what matters is the thickness and the quality of relationships, the interweaving of colours and the permeation of forms through which new worlds bloom like flower blossoms. Only an observer capable of a humble approach will be able to follow the majestic soaking, pouring and drying of colours in these tiny watercolours to which Malle adds just the right amount of his own imagination. After a long time, the miniatures with a feeling for minimalism can once again become initials of a new initiative with initiation. An observer who is thus actively addressed can not remain passive, their role in the gallery is not one of re-creation but rather one of co-creation. Not in the sense of setting up the exhibition or adding their brush strokes to any of the paintings, but in the presentation and an idiosyncratic imagining of the world this exhibition presents and presupposes – from the broadest of circles to the tiniest dot.
To achieve such an openness of structure one needs a greater amount of creative courage and self-confidence. For Malle, the pleasure of painting is neither a conceptual treat nor a mitigating circumstance, especially after the time when opposites such as the painting and the concept, the image and the thought, the signified and the signifier, have spent nearly a century fighting a life and death struggle. Despite a radical shift and a revolutionary turn; to abandon the classical stance of an author who controls every brush stroke like a demiurge (i. e., a being responsible for the creation of the universe), was not even easy for the heroes of modernism such Picasso or Duchamp, be it in the field of painting or concept. Therefore, a conscious releasing of tension on both extremes of the field is even more important. It might not be a coincidence that, on our territory, the painter Žiga Okorn and the sculptor Jiri Kočica act in a similar way. They moved the boundary between image and reality even with their BA thesis in the Tivoli pond boathouse and by painting “in situ” at the Jakopič Exhibition Center, but also as the key artistic developers of the Celica Hostel programme.
In the “Srečišče” gallery, Mirko Malle exhibits his cellular miniatures and recycled collages, and in the hallways of the Celica hostels he features his drawings of musicians which he created while listening to their performances at the “Sozvočja sveta” (The Harmony of the World) festival/ concert nights. They show an exceptional talent for personality and character as well as a deep knack for music, the atmosphere of which echoes through the rhythm and the melody of his lines. Previously, Celica hosted his music installation “Harmonija sfer” (The Harmony of Spheres), an original realisation of musical conducting which unites painting and music, image and sound in accordance with the Pythagorean philosophy. Together with an international group of artists, the musical collective AAI-Articulacion Artistica Internacional, he exhibited light bodies in the garden of Celica for the first time – amazing artwork that attract the audience with their colourful liveliness, and by touching the surface, a song rises from the colourful depths and completes the impression. Another exceptional and original gesture which surpasses the boundaries of both the previously seen and the visual.
JANKO ROŽIČ, Ljubljana 2016, translated from Slovenian by Lothar Orel Rose