The Immortal Fairy Tales of the Spotless Voices
Artemin Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of “The Immortal Fairy Tales of the Spotless Voices,” the Finnish artist Mirza Cizmic’s Taiwan debut solo exhibition, showcasing over ten new paintings created in 2023. The exhibition is on view from July 22 to September 2, 2023.
Finnish artist Mirza Cizmic was born in 1985 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country located in Southeast Europe that may not be familiar to Taiwanese people. The father/artist Cizmic is currently in a phase of abundant artistic creativity. Looking at his paintings, one would think every single piece is like a drama; reviewing one after another, one feels like one is watching an intense and unconventional movie. They feature a variety of hellish gags that will make people burst out laughing. You may think that the artist Cizmic is a deadpan comedian.
Cizmic’s artistic expression at this stage makes it hard to imagine that he spent his childhood in war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina. In response to this bitterness in life, he quoted a sentence from Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” This sounds like a chicken-soup-for-the-soul cliché, but its profound meaning is a step-by-step route that has led him to where he is today. Childhood is always worth exploring for a lifetime, and leaves a profound impact on one’s character. The year the family decided to leave Bosnia amidst the smoke, Mirza was 9 years old. Inevitably, his works used to depict the impression of their escape, resembling a modern-day Exodus. In recent years, Mirza’s thinking has turned back to reflect on himself. Starting from personal narrative, he integrates his imagination, the painting that can be achieved with his solid skills, combined with his life experience, and is fully equipped with the creation to make some epic art. But he neither constructs a grand discourse, nor does he make a sad accusation against history. Rather, he creates theatrical effects and condenses so many kinds of daily life by patching his own fantasy childhood and daily observation in collage, showing his use of appropriated imagery in dreamlike, evocative painting.
Although he seems to be recounting his own childhood memories, he maintains a slightly critical distance, as if directing other people’s stories and telling whimsical fairy tales. As a father, moving on to a new stage of life and art career, he possesses a very pure and simple idea, which is to explore his sons’ childhoods and, at the same time, compensate for the regrets of his own childhood. However, this “director” has created numerous dramatic paintings with increasingly rich content.
One of the largest artworks in this exhibition, titled Breakfast on the Grass was never Édouard’s idea, for example, pays tribute to Édouard Manet’s masterpiece Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Picnic) created in 1862-1863. When Cizmic was an art school student, he was trained to make replicas of European masterpieces, from which he developed solid painterly skills. Among the masters he learned from, Manet is his all-time favorite. The composition of Breakfast on the Grass was never Édouard’s idea exhibits clear distinctions among foreground, middle ground, and background, as well as a contrast of light and shadow, while he carefully portrays the rough aspects of people’s mundane lives. It is one of his Manet-inspired artworks and believed to be the most uncanny piece as the painting is incubated by Manet’s legacy from 160 years ago and combines ghostly elements and incredible plots from the contemporary world.
In response to the contemporary dispute over art, Cizmic interrogates the definition of art through his sophisticated oil paintings such as True Bride’s Chronicles, Art Class – Stories about the contemporary drawings, and You were always my princess. Cizmic said that when he painted the children’s drawings on the bed board, the blackboard, and the drawing paper, he put in extra effort to imitate the lines of children’s drawings, which was much more challenging than painting the rest. In recent years, childlike doodle has prevailed, so that it seems composition, brushstroke, and coloring are no longer the gravitas of the “artists.” This trend seems to diminish the knowledge required for artistic creation, toward which Cizmic is somewhat disapproving. Viewers are invited to compare and contemplate this.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning the political correctness in gender in his works. His straightforward manifestation is greatly appreciated as he said, “I respect women very much! My mother is my role model, and I admire my wife and her strength.” Therefore, women dominating an entire scene is recurrent in his paintings. And sometimes he abandons femininity and even allows for ambiguity in gender, blurring the boundaries of genders. The Metamorphosis series is one of Mirza Cizmic’s signature style. The men in the works always appear to be full of masculinity; however, the artist deliberately subverts this by ridiculing the men and portraying them in absurd situations. For instance, we can observe a group of amiable elderly women who, instead of being intimidated by a half-nude guy, are blatantly mocking his exposed body.
Moreover, the exhibition features several paintings that are “voice-based” or provide sensory experiences. For example, simply seeing Sing like a bird, sting like a bee gives the illusion of hearing sharp tenor (or soprano?) screaming. And several works depicting outdoor activities evoke a sense of temperature; however, Cizmic’s remarkable skill lies in his ability to blur the line between cold and hot, making it difficult for viewers to discern.
The absurd scenes in Cizmic’s works are, as a matter of fact, highly realistic, and it is most unsettling that it bears a strong resemblance to the situations portrayed by Franz Kafka in his novella Metamorphosis. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back……” Cizmic’s paintings, whether from the “Metamorphosis” series or not, challenge our human decency just like the opening lines of The Metamorphosis. After a second thought, we would all agree that Cizmic’s paintings are crystal clear to the point of peculiarity, revealing the dark corners of people’s inner selves without any reserve. The comedic and even farcical plots he creates expose true human nature, libido, desires, and his political views. Each episode put together accomplishes his “fairy tales of the spotless voices,” however clamorously they may be.
The Immortal Fairy Tales of the Spotless Voices | Mirza Cizmic
Date: 2023/07/22 – 09/02
Opening Reception: 2023/07/22 ｜14：00 – 17：00
Gallery Address: Artemin Gallery (No. 32, Ln. 251, Jihe Rd., Shilin Dist., 111, Taipei City, Taiwan)
20 7 月, 2023