Piera Ravnikar is the Artistic Programme Manager at Kino Šiška and the Gallery Manager at DobraVaga
What is DobraVaga?
DobraVaga is a gallery space and an open project studio that actively supports, encourages and promotes contemporary visual arts from younger generation artists. DobraVaga may be a new entrant to the physical creative space but it is no stranger to the arts thanks to its long-standing collaboration with the community of artists, collectives and diverse artistic initiatives, far and wide. Inspiring creativity is at the heart of our vision. A dynamic brand of creativity - one that does not conform to established notions set by classic art market conventions. DobraVaga is committed to bringing fresh innovative formats, as expressed by budding art and artistic practices, to the forefront. In fact, we’ll be keeping in spirit with our friendly neighbours in the nearby central market by giving value to fresh, sustainable and local products – and in good taste!
How does it differ from other galleries?
We are delightfully located in the milieu of the central city market space - developed by our internationally recognised architect, Jože Plečnik. It offers unique programme options; a gallery under the arcades, near a river or even within a fish market - where one can find the fresh ‘catch of the day’ within the burgeoning contemporary fine art scene. Ljubljana has earned a coveted spot on the regional artistic map with a venue that offers a thriving hub for creative research and development, networking events and bold experiments that invite original fine art expressions. Our promise, to maintain high standard programming by closely monitoring artistic practices and offering in-depth knowledge of young contemporary art.
Tell us about what’s on display at the moment in DobraVaga?
Currently, we are showcasing and selling exclusive Slovene fine art work, entitled Sveže ribe! (Fresh Fish). It features more than 50 selected artists of the DobraVaga Gallery, from diverse artistic genres spanning painting, collage, graphics and print to drawing. Until the end of May, as part of our programme, we will also be hosting the artist Nastja Mezek, who is currently finishing her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, as well as a young illustrator Petra Korent, who is presenting her work within an independent exhibition of contemporary zine production; Using humour, she casts a kinder light on the unpleasant and banal life situations we unavoidably face. These are the pains of contemporary human intimacy, whether relationships of duality or solo dramas, which she makes fun of in a caricaturised, humorously absurd and direct manner.
And what exhibitions are coming up?
Cross Pollination, a new travelling exhibition by a Berlin label, and a travelling gallery Le Petit Mignon, that focuses on underground visual art and innovative music. Under the direction of Guillaume Siffert, the founder and driving force behind Le Petit Mignon, many prominent group exhibitions had made their way around the world in the past, featuring art books and prints that blend illustration, abstract art and graphic experiments that give voice to the international underground art scene. The exhibition's world premiere will be held in Ljubljana as part of DobraVaga Gallery’s first anniversary celebrations, boasting the crème de la crème of the current screen printing production of eight French artists and graphic experimenters: Benoit Sanchez Hachair (Ben Sanair), Emy Rojas and Gaspard Le Quiniou (Arrache-Toi Un Oeil!), Julia Crinon and Hugo Marchal (Atelier McClane), Damien Tran and Marion Jdanoff (Palefroi), and Thomas Perrodin.
Is there something distinctive/a recognisable style when it comes to contemporary Slovenian art?
In my view, it seems that art today is on a quest. It is looking for its visual and aesthetic expressions via the web of contemporary artistic practices. This is a rich artistic time and space, one that permits deep exploration and a vibrant context - spanning political conversations to intimate personal confessions. We, the artistic programme managers take responsibility in successfully widening the horizons of our society, as well as creating a buzz for the array of selected forms, styles and practices, our traditions and contemporary arts. Every creative environment holds its own opinions toward art and the world in which it exists. Contemporary art is thus a conglomeration of the past, present, future and everything in-between.
What’s new in the Ljubljana/Slovenian art world? Since independence/in the last 10 years what have been the biggest changes in the local arts scene?
We perceive the need for a common space, where artists can come together, support and encourage each other, share new and different artistic practices, without the need for a public and material gain. At the forefront of these new aesthetics remains the desire for free expression and responsibility toward the times. By running this parallel space, we find a pulse point where possibilities and capabilities meet research and other current contexts of the contemporary urban culture. It forms and represents an invisible identity, a common group creativity - one that does not only focus on illustrating the outer, but also an inner world of thoughts. The contemporary works reveal exactly this - its universality, which perhaps refer to the fact that art is able to hide an entire world of free creativity.
Which young Slovenian artists should we being looking out for?
The artistic expression is of great value to an artist’s success but after some time, it may begin to gradually submit to other people's’ interests. Therefore, I prefer to explore the young burgeoning minds of young artists and their creative process. We are, in its most romantic sense, only a stop between an art school and the open art market. Looking back 10 or 20 years from now, I want to see our new tiers of artists thrive. I believe these artists will surprise: Helena Tahir, Ivana Bajec, Nina Čelhar, Jaka Vatovec, to name a few.
How long have you been in the art business? How did you get here?
I have been actively contributing to the field of contemporary and urban culture for the past 15 years. These years have been a fascinating journey, especially for my professional life - filled with significant research and networking opportunities, and stimulating challenges. I have had incredible opportunities working abroad, and am grateful to learn from brilliant individuals and collectives, as well as participate in impactful stories. This compilation of all examples and practices, good or bad, greatly influenced me on multiple levels; every day I dare to think - so, what else is possible?
What advice do you have for aspiring young artists?
Be true and dedicated to your creative process, actively promote your work, at home and in the international space, visit artists' residences, research, travel and learn! Also, I wish you never run out of courage to be an artist and live your art.
What do you enjoy most about running a gallery? And the most challenging thing?
The most exciting part is the exceptional range of works, artists, collectives we have received, as well as a keen and engaging public. Essentially, everyone who comes in and leaves through our gallery door. It seems our joy always goes both ways, one when the young art comes in and takes its little formative steps ahead and when the completed artwork leaves with its new owner for its new home. My personal challenge is bureaucracy - it’s hard work but just as fulfilling.
Where do you and your cool Ljubljana artsy friends go for drinks?
The central market with excellent local specialities is becoming a true space for young urban culture. Spots like Magda, Barbarella, Shakira, and the newest Niša in our gallery, are warm spaces that host true friends in one place. All are around DobraVaga.