Based on his professional career and age, Tihomir Matijević belongs to the middle generation of Croatian contemporary artists. Medium-wise, he is primarily a sculptor and his thoughts on art are rooted deeper than the comprehensible surface of the artist’s sculpture seems to show at first. In regard to that, Transheroica or Sculptor Seeks for a Hero exhibition reflects multi-layeredness typical of the author’s artistic approach. On one hand, exhibition content is displayed through flawless artistic execution, and, on the other, it conceals a variety of conceptual sources, such as individual motivation for sculpting of the monumental sculptures and overcoming problems concerning selection and manner of presentation of the subject(s). Matijević’s sculptures representing four types of heroes came into existence as a result of various processes, from recollection of memories and reinterpretations of sculptures from the author’s childhood to the development of consciousness and mature attitude about socio-political reality, alongside surreal combination of pop culture with real life experiences. The latter reveals the dominant property of Matijević’s artistic personality, that of a “collector” of diverse expressions, attitudes and meanings, which are transformed into new, uniform styles by his own hands. I will paraphrase something that was concluded before, based on the things mentioned above: Matijević’s eclecticism defines him as a “post-conceptual artist without signature” (Darko Glavan and Osijek Art Scene, Gallery of Fine Arts, Osijek, 2011).
As stated at the very beginning, Matijević constantly balances between original sculptural expression and conceptual foundations, however, similar dynamism can also be experienced on a semantic level of the exhibition, via absurd amalgams of simple associations and multi-layered problematic. Associations constitute surface layer through which observer has to penetrate in order to approach the real questions, and eventually gain possible answers. In case of Transheroica or Sculptor Seeks a Hero one can discern the author’s wish to position the sculptures into coordinates of space and movement using Latin tags visible on monument bases. Placed in a specific way, they create a sort of a crossing; a site of (dis)agreement between or meeting of parallel worlds and different ideologies, presented through locally and/or globally recognisable historical/possible and imaginary characters. Their orientation depends mostly on societal constructs based on “speculative”, traditional descriptions of specific local environments and mentalities. If we look deeper, one can recognise from this sculptural composition the artist’s self-irony (especially in regard to the inversion of roles of the artist and relevant authorities in the process of sculptural production) and critique of society where, because of the lack of real heroes, monuments are raised to imaginary ones. Through form and content of his sculptural crossroad, Matijević succeeds in illustrating equally absurd and tragicomic situation not that far from our reality: sculptor is a client, an urban planner and a worker, official authorities do not exist, and society is led by false and imaginary heroes.
In conclusion, Transheroica or Sculptor Seeks a Hero is another proof of Matijević’s inclination towards binaries and his skill in reconciling classic format and select thematics. Furthermore, it is a demonstration of his affinity for creating a playful relationship between surface and complex semantic layers. By composing and combining various elements, his work becomes a rich source not only for observation, but for thought as well.
CV- Tihomir Matijević
Born in 1975 in Našice. In 2000 graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, class of prof. Stanko Jančić. In 1998 studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, class of prof. Jim Nestor (within the student exchange project of AFA and IUP). In 2013 obtained Doctor of Arts degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, under the mentorship of prof. Stjepan Gračan and prof. Leonida Kovač. Has been exhibiting since 1998 in solo and group exhibitions in Croatia and abroad. Received Ex aequo award at the 22nd Slavonian Biennale, one of the three equal awards at the XI. Croatian Sculpture Trienniale and the special award of AICA (International Association of Art Critics). Works as an assistant professor at the Art Academy in Osijek (College sculpture) since 2005. Member of HDLU Osijek since 2000. Lives and works in Osijek.