In the Time and Space Triptych,

being the ambient work composed of fifteen angular canvases (divided into cycles of five) with inscribed different variations of the circle, Gloria Oreb is primarily occupied with the problem area of the architecture of the universe that is being faced with an incredible proportion of all its consisting points whether invisible or latent form.

Although the circle, as the flesh of an infinite space, is timeless, the author has included time in her concept, which is here only a backdrop that changes its colour. In the background made of little golden leaves, there are circles of the first part of the triptych - it is so-called the Aurum because the golden colour in the Early Christian art symbolized celestial, i.e. spiritual world.

The circles painted in black acrylic (black stands for terrestrial) are mainly the variations of the elements coming from the medieval architecture (e.g. rosettes, quincunx, Byzantine ground plans in form of the Greek crosses). Let us mention that those variations of the circles can be read as (a sort of) pictograms, somewhat close to the expression of the early Christianity as well, although, in this case, they are completely intangible. They go places where the observer is at the core. He alone creates a story. The meanings are not imposed on him. We could say that in the Time and Space Triptych, what once in the early Middle Ages was celestial, it becomes a sign in this context, and the sign itself in her works has no exact meaning, but it can be read in many ways that is interchangeable in the next cycle of the triptych under title Illuminations.

Against the black background rest the thin, white lines of the circles. Those canvases represent a specific map of the universe. Some of them might be interpreted as presentation of the distance from the point of the Earth to the point of the Sun, the presentation of the planets' points... The point of view shifts even further, into the Space. In the seventh century, Patriarch German referred to the Church as ''the terrestrial heaven... in which God of the upper sky shows himself''. Indeed, as though we could find here the evidence that shows how the architecture of an early Christian basilica was patterned after the divine.

The third component of the Triptych brings the background consisting of the golden leaves again. These canvases are actually a counterpart to the Aurum. This time the painter creates the same variations of the architectural elements from the Aurum imprinting identical signs of the angels onto the canvas. As in the previous two cycles, the stamp of her hand is invisible and it is closely related to the poetics of the colour-field painting, which is, again, due to its geometric component, close to architecture.

Through her Time and Space Triptych the author attempts to create the ''(golden) ratio'' out of the chaotic, trivia-packed reality that we live in. By the ratio I mean the section on the one hand, and on the other, of course, the retrieval of the order in the present-day world. I perceive her conceptual work as the core of a large circle from which the details of architecture, painting and (visual) letter are evenly spread, joining all together in the spirit.

Neva Lukić

Posted in Kontura, no. 105 / December 2009



Mystical Play with Circles

A constant value carried by artists and art is a message and emotion. Nevertheless, it is sometimes a vague and sometimes an absolutely clear notion of what the artist desires to convey through a certain form, motif and technique. It is the everlasting wonderment and admiration for the forceful and potent nature and glorious life. It is something that we, just as artists, used to discover in our childhood, to examine in our youth, to nurture in the mature age while constantly feeding our need to understand, to perceive and express these conditions and sentiments about the universe. Man, particular artist, is a little miracle. His fantasy and creative abilities for modifying ideas, words, shapes, space and atmosphere are boundless.

In order to turn something into art, its materialism must first be reduced or totally eliminated. It must be universal, concise and introduced into a new order of signs, symbols and correlations. Most importantly, it is a mystical process, an extremely demanding notation and expression of intimacy that artist in the manner of diffused lighting spreads around the real world building a new, imaginary one. Therefore, artists are a kind of mystics and art may be found as a mystical act. The word used in literature and in a successful theatrical performance as well as the mark of a brush stroke on a canvas have the mystical power and the consequence. Gloria Oreb, a versatile artist from Split (engaged in photography, video, performance and painting), works as a professor at UMAS (The Art Academy of the University of Split). In her works included in cycles (Illuminations, Rosarium, Aurum, Pri štalu...), she starts ab ovo (=from the beginning) while drawing heavily on the circle - the circle as an archetype, as the basis and the origin, as arche (=beginning), as the cosmic rhythm and the dynamics of the cosmos, as the mystical amalgam of matter and spirit, of transcendental and material, of the Earth and the Heavens. She sees the circle to be a universal symbol, the universe itself, a sunlit rosette made of stone, but also the crown of thorns. The circle gives inspiration for dancing, for the wheel dancing and the Self (according to Jung). The circle is the "wall" that protects from the harm that is outside, though similarly something harmful can be locked inside the circle.

Gloria Oreb combines the circles of different diameters with the dotted-lined ones. Thusly, she attains a certain dynamics and rhythm. Circles are her starting point from which she sets the symbols (circles) in correlations and changes their size and position. By doing so, the artist alone undergoes the path of creative catharsis - from the profane to the sacred neither insisting on the warmth of colour nor on the lyrical ecstasy, but encouraging imagination, emphasizing the symbolism and association. Her works show almost a geometrical accurateness while she has strictly defined various circular patterns and storing the inherited nobility and almost Arcadian gentleness within them. Thereby, she approaches the viewer discretely by addressing him like a shot. She does not hesitate to leave up to the viewer to experience her artistic and mystical imagination just as someone would receive a rosette or a lace made by a patient embroiderer. Therefore, she encourages the viewer to explore his own micro and macro circular worlds. Since this artist does not create according to a model, but by faith, she still does not exclude the power of logos. As a result, having successfully trained the incubus of waking state and reached the substantiality of dream and subdued the atmosphere of cataclysm and existential alienation, her exhibitions emit primordial simplicity and purity. Finally, the artist demonstrates self-sufficiency and dignified calmness despite the existential uncertainty and the tragic transience. The unique subtitle: ''Know thyself!'' could possibly be given to all of her ''circular'' works. Indeed, Gloria Oreb's painting is about intertwined passwords and the organization of secret codes. Her mystical puzzles lead both her and the viewers into the unimagined zones of reverie and cognition, yet the cognition related to a mere fraction of what surrounds us, fascinate, define, and, ultimately, outlives us.

While observing her work encompassed within the aforementioned cycles, we may at first glance bring a superficial conclusion and perceive the works as something uniform, set in a melancholy interior (the basement of Diocletian's Palace). Yet the artist uses pure logic here: only in an exhibition space such as this the repertoire of her symbolic forms becomes coherent, finished, completed. Only then we are able to discover in this artist a skilled connoisseur and a great dreamer, an adventurer and explorer moving along the borders between reality and mysticism of dreams with hints of the secretive and mythical otherworld.

Her world of inherited fantasy is created on a human scale. But why did she choose the circle? Mythical thought belongs to the early epochs of mankind, but it is still present today. The more human actions affect the laws of nature, the more mythical forces fade and the archetypes along with symbols become a mere metaphorical reflection and a moment stopped within the unstoppable time. The circle is closest to the optical impossibility for the creation of a form of the ''archetype itself''. Therefore, it should be seen as a pre-concrete and a pre-pictorial form of the beginning.

This symbol and archetype ''evenly includes both depth and height of the development of human consciousness, since the same characters were initially employed as symbols of yet-unarticulated and prefigured multitude, and lastly, as symbols of abstract and post-figurative terminology'' (Erich Neumann). We may say that the circle is the most democratic geometric figure whose points stand at an equal distance from its centre. There is no hierarchy in it. Along with continuous dynamics, it maintains a harmonious, primordial cycle. It is the aspiration or a path to nirvana, blissfulness, perfection, the succession of moment(s). In many religions and cultures the circle is thought to be the most complete shape. Thus, we may ask ourselves if the symbol of the circle for this artist is also becoming a visual clarification of her own? Is it perhaps the reason why the artist impelled by her own necessity is rolling the circles in which potential fullness and/or void of animation and artistic endeavours resides? Does she identify herself with a pilgrim who on his life and professional path patiently follows the flash of an enigma at the conclusion of which the Absolute awaits? She is not afraid of mysteries and accepts full responsibility for the persistence in her ''architectural'' work. She is aware that the great laws, which govern the physical world, rule aesthetics as well. By her circle-based thinking she purifies her artistic language achieving a remarkable coefficient of aesthetics. Even if there were fears in the beginning, it was surmounted through discipline and composure of cosmic harmony while entering into the wide open spaces of the universe. The world is too stringent for her, whereas she finds the transcendence so mythical and provocatively mystical.

After all, no man is a closed circle. According to Jaspers, being a man means ''becoming a man''. ''Becoming a man'', interpreted by Gloria Oreb, manifests itself in the preservation of those stable ideals of value (largely marginalized nowadays), which are deposited in the future and a basis for establishing a personal balance and achieving the aesthetics of an almost ritual simplicity. In her search for meaning, measure and harmony she constructs visual matrices while avoiding hedonistic and pragmatic games as well as the challenges of sinusoidal movement leaving her work to the being. She finds utilitarian criteria unacceptable. She does not harm the aesthetic ones and she rather accepts ascetic simplicity and artistic asceticism. Thus, the circle is so congenial to her – it is (and it is not!) a relic. It may be a mystical and treacherous maze, so it may induce (fear or awe) and a sacred mystery: the Sun and the yellow, the precious gold, the space energy. However, Gloria Oreb is not a dogmatist. By reproducing and multiplying the circles, she meets and enters specific variations, interesting correlations, strange subordinations, compelling conversations and cooperation. To accomplish all of this, she chose the basement halls of Diocletian's Palace - the magical, ancient, and phobic space.

''The basement halls in the micro/macro context become another heaven'' says the artist. This space resembles: ''...a mine wherefrom I excavate the luminous reflection of the sky, hidden crystals and metal traces from which I read the constellations of galaxies in their circular motion...,'' she states. So, she moves the basement halls' dark horizons of mystique letting the viewer, immersed in that ascetic and meditative atmosphere, to set his own interpretation and make a personal associative experience. Only in the hermetic rooms of the basement halls Gloria Oreb's painting cycles can produce a new meaning, durability, versatility, a new actuality. The basement halls become the zone of concentration and meditation, the land area of mysterious beauty and wholehearted dedication that, out of the darkness, enters the equinox. The artist chooses lucidly and not by chance the timing of the exhibition’s setup - the night of the new moon. Thereby, she marks a new beginning - the end of winter and the birth of spring.

Beside the circle, there are some symbols that Gloria Oreb often uses as a motif, e.g. the cross, the fish and the square. Through her intense work she has accomplished numerous lyric and geometrical constructions. She makes a special kind of communication and an intimate relationship with them. Those are neither some optical phantasms nor a specific sort of painting. There is no particular scenario either. The artist imposes her simple strategy of massive, concise symbolic and vivid graphic forms and crucifies them inside of the labyrinthine basement halls. She plays on the border of temporal and non-temporal, personal and universal. This is where her ethical realm steps in, which combined with the aesthetic dimension balances the weight of a dream with phantasms of a gnostic. Her circles resemble the cycle of life. They generate the inclusion of human being in creation and metamorphosis, making man (and artist in particular) the co-creator of the nature and his own existence. Being aware of her personal freedom (of choice), the artist interprets the life and the cosmos by universal symbols; she relates well to the solid forms while following their transition from an object to an abstraction. In the cycles of Gloria Oreb the magic of measure and the beauty of proportion become anti-picturesque art elements, the aspiration towards getting out of the chaos. As Arnold Hauser stated: ''All art is a play with the chaos... If any progress has been made in the history of art, it is in the incessant growth of those areas that had been removed from the chaos...''

Vanja Škrobica

Posted in the Re – Art and Culture Magazine, no. 17 / December, 2009


Performances with herself

We talk with the multimedia artist about her performances executed without the presence of an audience in which, as she suggests, video and photography are the means of documenting and they are mediators in the transfer of messages.

Suzana Marjanić

On the occasion of the round table theme Historization, (re)presenting and filing performances (curatorial, research and artistic perspective), at the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery in Zagreb, on 18 May 2012

Let us talk about your piece ''Food'', dated from the year 2002, which you performed on the occasion of The Second Day of Croatian Performance Art in Varaždin. What inspired you to perform this piece, that was not recognized by the audience due to the conviction of the viewers it was just about the act of everyday cooking?

- The performance Food, I should mention, contains also the word Cooking in its title. Thus, the precise title is Food/Cooking. By applying that title I have specified that the preparation of food implies the cooking process – thermal treatment of food. However, cooking as the cultivation of certain raw materials may also refer to other processes. The idea was to attract attention to the inner states of a being – constant cycle of transformation that bear fruits nourishing us from the inside. If perceived outwardly as an act of preparing food, cooking itself may be observed as the preparation of nutritious substances. This performance took place during The Second Day of Croatian Performance Art in Varaždin, in the Butković Studio. Its impressive surrounding preoccupied the viewers and their fascination with the studio artifacts outweighed the visually modest everyday act of food-preparing. It is at the point of imperceptibility and silence of the performance of cooking, where the meaning of this work lies. The questions imposed while performing this piece are the following: How much attention do we pay to the inward processes? To what extent are they evident to us? The necessity of food regarding external corporality is obvious, but the imperceptible inner processes (of cooking) are simultaneously building (nourishing) the spaces of our other realities.

Symbolic food

Are there any other performances and works of yours which imply the idea of food, its symbolic and cultural meaning?

- The idea of symbolic feeding is being present in all my works on the level of inner experience. More specifically, this theme I discussed in the ambient work Laboratory back from the year 2011, in which I arranged drawings (a sort of diagrams emerged during experiments) in the spatial correlation with emptied jars that originally contained food (pickles...), which I had filled with light in the Laboratory as with the sample result of the experimental research. The Laboratory is the actual space of my living and creation – my apartment/studio. By shifting it into a gallery context the Laboratory becomes an ambient in which the mundane elements, jars once filled with food, become exhibits of a creative artistic act. Physical food (pickles) transmutes into its origin – light. The very process of transmutation I have documented with drawings-diagrams.

On your website you have specified the piece ''A4'' (2001) as your first performance that examines the androgyny, specifically through the pictogramic marks on the toilet doors. On that occasion, in the SC (Student Centre) toilet you produced a symbol of androgyny with the black paint in spray over the stencil. What is the reason for selecting the black colour for reconciliation of male and female energies and how long was the symbol being kept in the SC toilet?

- The pictogram as the symbol of androgyny is a simple visual form made out of even simpler fusion of pictogramic tags that we usually come across on the toilet doors. By combining two simple signs the third one is created, which is a much more complex creation. The ''A4'' performance may be interpreted at a superficial level as a pun (perplexity of the SC visitors at the entrance of the toilet was funny). However, if we attempt to analyze the symbol of an androgyny that was created by merging two signs, we come upon complex meanings: male and female genders are not complete – they are fragmentation of one entirety. Psychology tells about animus and anima that complement the half-gender of a man and reflect the androgyny. The realization of an androgyny, or re-establishment of an integrated being is the goal of existence. Thereby, the tag of the symbol of an androgyny becomes a small contemplative image inscribed by the means of graffiti aesthetics on the toilet doors, in the place where this would be least expected. The black colour of the symbol defines a transitional state of matter indicating a possible entry into a new cycle of wholeness. It seems, though, that the gallery toilet is not the space for achieving deeper insights, so the symbol of an androgyny has been removed from the doors at the end of the exhibition.

The Doors + Beuys

How did the performance ''Hello'' originate? You formed it as a dancing performance of everyday life. As a matter of fact, you are dancing to the song ''Hello, I love you'' in your own bedroom. In which direction do you connect Morrison and Beuys, whose character is on the T-shirt that you're wearing on this occasion?

- Speaking of the ambient ''Laboratory'' earlier, I've noted that it is both my livelihood and working space – apartment and studio. The places of my residence and creations blend into one another and so it is in the performance for the video called ''Hello'' dated from the year 2005. The venue is my bedroom. The video captures moments of joie de vivre complemented by the dance – I believe that such an experience is well-known to many. The performance title refers to the number ''Hello, I love you'' of the band The Doors. Morrison, the leader of the band, is considered to be the shaman of rock music in the sixties and the seventies of the last century. Drawing a parallel with the art of the same period I have come to Beuys and his art shamanism; that explains the T-shirt with his image on. By doing so, I've fused both Morrison and Beuys into one whole. The rock music, on the one hand, the art, on the other, and in the middle is my dance as an eternal game. And, perhaps, it was also about (im)possible infatuation ...

In the description of the above-mentioned performance for The Third Festival of the First on the subject of domination (SC, 2005), you said that in the second minute of the video the T-shirt with the picture of Joseph Beuys should have been prevalent at the time of the projection. However, the aforementioned domination, as it seems to me (if my memory does not deceive), was not accomplished.

- The T-shirt with the picture of Joseph Beuys did dominate in the video, but in the transmission of the message from the video into the theatre performance in the semicircular hall of the SC, the close-up of Beuys inevitably didn't occur – still, his image definitely dominates the video finale.

As the fourth performance on your website you list the Exit. What is that project about, respectively, have you presented this performance, in which you release folded white papers in the shape of a boat into the sea, by photographic or video documentation? Namely, you stated that the performance was presented as an installation in the basement halls of Diocletian's Palace. Where exactly did this performance come about?

- The Exit is a performance that took place at the location of the city beach Kasjuni in the year 2005 during a winter day, and it was recorded by photography, the medium which was the best option for capturing the brisk winter air. The Exit was presented by the slide-show of the photographs inside of the basement halls of Diocletian's Palace.

The paper boats on the beach made by folding the white paper and then discharged into the sea serve as a metaphor for the impossibility of leaving. This performance was preceded by the photographic cycle The Ship's Log from 2004, which was a certain antithesis of it. Journey as a metaphor of departure, transit and revelation is the basis of these works. Due to the insular origin of mine, the focus of the Exit performance is also focused on my biographical distinctness by the sea and the seafaring.

Salt as the Essence of the Sea

In the year 2008, the Salt performance took place at The Nano Gallery in Zagreb. Since you rarely do the live performances, what was your motivation this time? Was the mentioned performance realized in the same fashion as the others - without an audience?

- The performance under the title Salt was motivated by my connection to the sea and its fluidity. Salt as the essence of the sea – the crystal of a cubic structure. Liquid mobility and changeability of the sea has been halted in the salt. I have noticed the slowness of natural changes in the process of crystallization: the sunbeams enter the Earth's atmosphere by day. The heat causes evaporation of the sea within the sea rocks. The water moves up towards the sky. During the cooling effect of the night gentle vapours are pulled towards the earth condensing in the form of dew. The salt remains in the rocks. If one observes it more closely, one might realize that another subtle sea resides above our heads.

Salt is the fabric I used for forming the circle by the means of which I transferred the experience of the sea, the island and the vicissitudes into the premises of the Nano Gallery. The gallery visitors were present during the creation of the circle of salt. However, you have rightly noticed that most of my performances are conducted in the absence of an audience. Media such as video or photography are the means of documenting and they are mediators in the transfer of messages. One of the performances documented through the medium of photography was the Meus peristylum performance as well.

You described the performance Meus peristylum as a walk/performance through your own courtyard. When did you give form to the above-mentioned performance? Your closing sentences of its description are: ''The sky promises peace. I am becoming light and aerial in the courtyard which resembles...''. Could you, please, tell us what does the courtyard look like...?

- Meus peristylum is a digitally mastered photo from 2009 by which I documented my walk along the sky – my courtyard. Ideas of the celestial space allow the very performance to happen right inside of that infinity. The playfulness provided by the medium of photography allows both sky-walking and the immense easiness of passing through the celestial spheres. Creating all those worlds and states is like a game, which is witnessed by the performance Meus peristylum – my courtyard resembles...The sky...

It is the same sky that I created in the painting cycles Aurum (2008), Illuminations (2009) and The Other Sky (2010) by means of gilding.

At which festivals of female and/or feminist creative work have you participated and with which works and how do you explain that you are currently not represented in the video archive of the re.act.feminism that we have recently had an opportunity to see in the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery?

- I participated in the Feminae Extravaganza - the Female Creativity Festival, which took place in the space of the Aquarium in Split in the year 2009, with the work A4. Nevertheless, I do not define my position towards feminist art. I'd rather put myself under the category of the free creative spirit – and there is the answer to the question why I was not represented in the video archive of the re.act.feminism. In fact, the reason why I put myself under the category of the free creative spirit is that I don't see myself and my work within the scope of any groups - I'm just out of my depth here. Also, I believe that I'm not too keen on imposing my work to the curatorial teams and the public exposure either.

Posted in the biweekly magazine Zarez, no. 337, June 21, 2012