"Heads" series foreword, by Marina Baričević

Abstract sculpture - "Heads" series - by Croatian painter Robert Baća



One thing is certain — art is never born out of an empty soul or an untalented head. Just as it never exists separated from its time and space. Starting from this elementary base, Robert Baća continues to practice the craft of sculpture along his own formative path. The themes of his newest cycle include stylized heads — helmets, skull — caps from the war, animal skulls... And a number of small forms for the palm, with a hint of a face. The iconographic background of these sculptures makes them interesting, and is thought —provoking: Baća weaves together an old experience and a modern situation. Lost in the scenery of the war, which has enveloped his native country as an absurdity, the artist thematically roots his own disorientation in the absurdity of warfare.

The helmet is a symbol of invulnerability and power, the embodiment of faith and strength. The golden helmet from Ur, kept in a Baghdad museum, is an anthological example of Sumerian art. An associative arch reaching from myth to reality, from a sign of culture to war culturecide, characterizes Baća's sculpture. Deeply immersed in its time, it stands up against it. Through the duality of expression of the head and the helmet, but also the skull, this sculptural form stresses the general in the particular, and vice versa... In its entire composition, it is fully sculpturally formed with additional elements, together forming a harmony in its spatial relation.

Thanks to the well thought-out shaping of the sculpture, whose static part represents the basic form complemented by an array of mobile and prefabricated elements, we are all invited to participate in co-creation and co-reflection. Disrupting the laws of order in museums, Baća breaks the convention by inviting the viewer to "change" the appearance of the exhibited sculpture. He invites us to participate in an often stimulating game... In order to achieve dynamism, the decently perforated basic sculptural form hides, in the niches of its geometrical focal point, the bearings for specially sculpted insertions. Thus, the head—helmet, a symbol of life, faith and power, through a slight intervention on the part of the viewer, is transformed into a skull, a symbol of death.

By dislocation, removal or insertion of different elements, living beings as human or animal microcosms disappear in the whirlpools of the macrocosms of life, falling as victims of stupidity, war, political games throughout the long centuries of cultural civilizations. As for the reading and interpretation of these works, we are all perhaps too deeply involved in their content. These sculptures contain in their forms also the feeling of existence of each one of us. In content and theme, Baća’s sculptures are congruent with their form and expression. These sculptural creations stress the terseness of form and condensed expression, the cumulative effect being that this sculpture expresses its meaning without a single superfluous gesture.

The material out of which this newest thematic cycle of Robert Baća's sculptures was created is clay. This is that third, not unintentional, conditional factor. The symbolic thought is reflected in the measure of primeval origin... From the earth comes the Beginning, and the End returns to it— it is the balance to weigh the age of the world. Having chosen earth — ceramics — Baća committed himself to the one possible artistic discipline, fitting the material to the theme, within the vocation of a sculptor and ceramic artist. Thinking entirely as a sculptor, the artist achieved the perfect masterly execution of the gently rounded skull, helmet and head surfaces, as well as the sharply out details.The sculptor’s elaboration of the ceramic surface is of special interest: glazing and patina. Serving the theme at one point, then again expressing the chosen form and adjusting the memory, such surfaces evoke metal, but also the gold of the Sumerian  helmet — the ordinary and the festive.

With his most recent cycle of ceramic sculptures, Baća presents himself as an engaged modern artist, a sculptor who does not work in an empty space detached from his time. For this reason his work is imbued with the complexity of the intertwined fate of personal and wider social events. This is why all of his sculptures, regardless of their narrative and associative, their decorative and expressive elements or characteristics, also convey a certain festive solemnity, a reflection of an abstract spiritualism.  

Marina Baričević - Member of the International Academy of Ceramics in Geneva

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