In his second exhibition at KRANK Art Gallery, Roman Uranjek presents works from a project that he had started on 1.1.2002 – when the Euro was introduced as the currency of the European Union – and continued uninterrupted for 15 years. The exhibition consists of posters, prints, books and collages.
On January 1st, 2002, the day when the Euro became the official currency of the European Union, Roman Uranjek drew his first cross intervention on the European currency Euro, and launched the project titled “At Least One Cross A Day After 1.1.2002”. His works with a Cross on surfaces that relate to the history of art seem to belong to a humanistic and symbolic, pre-Christian and post-Christian iconography. Much has been talked about the symbolism of the Cross until today, and in fact, not only Medieval Gothic art, the Renaissance and post-Renaissance art history, but also the history of modern art, especially since Malevitch, has been preoccupied with this icon. Roman Uranjek is also using the same icon, but the originality of the artist’s idea arises from the fact that the sensibility of the crosses he draws as interventions on found pages induce a mirror effect. Consequently, the objects and found objects overstep their “material presence” and generate their own “image presence”, as the image is a sensibility pertaining to art. The “image presences” transform their iconified state into “art image presences”, reifying their “aureoles” in images. In this sense, the surfaces that Uranjek uses, as mediums with mirroring effects, distance the image presence from the material presence, and show that they have their separate places.
As a sign, the cross is a simple form consisting of two lines perpendicular to one another. It is one of the earliest symbols used in the history of humanity, and it appears at various stages of the cultural development from prehistory to the present day. Its presence in history is quite diverse; sometimes it appears merely as an ornament, sometimes as a determiner of identity, and at other times as a symbol of obsession, faith or veneration. In numerous caves in Europe various carvings where the form of the cross was used have been found, and subsequently, the same form was used by many religions, especially by Christianity. The fundamental symbol of Christianity, the cross, acts as a reminder of the crucifixion of Jesus, and is the representation of salvation from pain and death. It is a symbol of God’s love for the humankind who managed to prevail over sin and death through the sacrifice of His Son; through the resurrection of Jesus, the humankind has triumphed over death. In a sense, the cross is the symbol of life and eternity.
Setting out with the principle of producing a work every day, and affected by the religious, mythological, erotic, and every other symbolic meaning of the cross, the artist examined the integration of the cross, as a universal motif, into everyday life. Books, magazines, photographs, and flyers have all become materials to work with for Uranjek, and through an artistic intervention made by drawing his own cross on these he has introduced a different meaning to what was represented earlier. In his works on books, he compiles the principal figures of the history of art, and through collages, he effectively produces a reinterpretation of the history of art. By placing a cross on a reproduction of a work of art from art history, or on a reproduction of a material from the printed press, he alters the given visuality of the image, also effecting a semantic transformation. The main point is the defining of two separate elements in a single work; the elements of template-copy and intervention-original in the domain created by the artistic intervention. In this project, set out on the principle of a work a day, through a regular and obsessive creative process, Uranjek reveals an artistic act that does not let a day go by without at least drawing a line.
About Roman Uranjek
Born in 1961, in Trbovlje, Slovenia, the artist lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
He is one of the founders and a member of the IRWIN Group, established in 1983. The initiative founded in Ljubljana (Slovenia) was instrumental in the establishment of the design department “Novi Kolektivizem” and the artists collective “Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK)” in Yugoslavia. After establishing a specific visual language in its predominantly pictorial projects in the 1980s, IRWIN focused on a critical comparative review between the art history of “Western Modernism” and the “retro-avant-garde” of “Eastern Modernism” since the 90s.
The joint project “DATES”, realised with Radenko Milak, consists of a masterly and spontaneous gathering of Milak’s “365 Images of time” series and Uranjek’s project “At least one cross a day after 1.1.2002”. Their mutual interest in each other’s work developed as a result of a similarity of artistic approaches in perceiving and comprehending objective time and historical time, and eventually culminated in a concrete cooperation. Since 2015, they have exhibited this project at venues such as Duplex100m2 in Sarajevo, Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Galerija Matica Srpske in Novi Sad, the Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana, and in November 2016 at KRANK Art Gallery.