DRAWINGS AND PRINTS BY NEJCH SLAPAR
A look into the artwork of Nejch Slapar reveals a tireless visual explorer who is active at the intersection of op-art or optical art, geometrical abstraction, visual and real poetry, conceptualism, minimalist art and other artforms. Slapar’s visual discourse is most at home in his drawings although this most direct form of expression sometimes has a very print-like character. It was Slapar’s work in the graphic industry which was the main reason for his drawings and we can see that they are composed of slightly modified, at first glance parallel lines which are reminiscent of computer graphics. In reality it is always possible to feel the author’s manual intervention in arranging the black and white or coloured lines applied with a rapidograph, stencils and French curve. The thickening and interaction of lines creates an optical illusion which makes it seem as though they are in movement. Linear structures added to a figural motif for which almost mathematical precision was required in creating the desired form. When he also added the letter to the line and shape, Nejch Slapar found himself in the field of visual and concrete poetry, which found one of its locations for public activity in Kranj. An important milestone of this art-literary-sign discipline was the group Studio Signum and the two joint exhibitions held by Nejch Slapar and France Pibernik »the graphic space of poetry« (1976) and »the coloured space of poetry« (1980).
A constant feature of Slapar’s visual discourse is also a desire to control the gallery space with objects of art, e.g. a large sphere, which is actually a polyhedron, or by linking together small polyhedrons with which he gives a new meaning to the gallery space. By setting metal balls above the Kokra canyon he made a statement in a natural environment. In the images which he attached to glass, the reflecting surface of the image-bearer has optically deepened the space and allowed the spectator to contribute to the effect of the artwork.
Slapar’s repertoire of signs also includes biological and erotic shapes which he draws with broad, clear lines. The motifs are equally the fruit of the artist’s momentary inspiration and despite occasional provocativeness also the aspiration for ordered compositions, i.e. aesthetic synthesis. His interest lies not only in some combined art techniques (including assemblage), but also in classic painting and printing.
In his latest series of artworks, Nejch Slapar has stuck to the motto »less is more«. He has abandoned the world of objects and signs and opted for pure artistic structure. We can link the pictures with so-called concrete art or with geometric abstraction. It brings into a well-planned composition autonomous geometric forms, rectangles, triangles, rhombuses and other shapes derived from the most basic ones. They are depicted in their characteristic black and white appearance in combination with black and red colours as in avant-garde artworks from the beginning of the previous century, or alternatively they are covered with intense colours. The colours have been applied evenly to separate surfaces, without nuancing or the use of a raster. The material and symbolic values of colours can be perceived on an intuitive level. Colour combinations have been very accurately studied and have abstract origins. The colours and forms correspond to each other. Colour sequences support the rhythm of the composition while the shape gives dynamics to the colour. There is an impression of space and movement.
Nejch Slapar operates with a small number of art elements. Minimalistic reductions of the fundamental compositional elements, lines, shapes, colours and their primary meanings lead to conceptual purity and a clearer idea. In truth, it unfolds a whole spectrum of possible interpretations which Nejch Slapar realises in several smaller groups of pictures. In a balanced visual rhythm we can follow the gentle changes in the primary composition. We can sense the desire to depict the continuity or development of a visual whole and the bringing together of related visual solutions, for example in modular pictures. These are small compositions which are comparable with Slapar’s larger works in terms of visual density but they can have an effect only as a constituent part of the whole.
Translated from Slovenian by Marko Petrovich