2006. Tonko Maroević: The Persistant Eye, the Tireless Sea

On the occasion of “Painting with the Sea” by Višnja and Marijan Anić

The old aesthetic question about whether nature is beautiful, beautiful by itself, receives the standard answer that it cannot be so without a human share in it, without some help, without interpretation, without man’s understanding and certain borders or “taming”. Indeed, for the sea in its entirety, a large tract of a hill, for the phenomenon of snow, for the swirl of plants, it would be even restricting to say they are beautiful, because the diversity of the world lies beyond liking or affective reception. The existence of elemental phenomena and forces seems only to be asking to be aesthetically tamed, in a way reduced, brought down to the dimension of disinterested liking.

Large and wide, deep and open, the sea is far removed from any aesthetic judgement: any possible measure and criteria are lost in the distances of the ocean and the stretches of the high seas, while in the coastal area, in the bays and coves, in the shoals and shallows, one can establish relationships which might be qualified as harmonious and charming, or dynamic and dramatic.

A painter or a poet, a musician or a photographer, in other words a sensitive soul, will find motifs in the surrounding nature which will encourage him to make choices by affinity, inspire him to some more or less creative response.

If nothing else, the very look itself will frame a characteristic or significant situation, so to say “zoom in” on what, from a profusion of stimuli, most corresponds by affinity or by contrast. The outcome of each stimulating encounter between man and nature finds a correlation for the infinite and the unreachable (that is to say, for cosmic distances) within the limitations of our terrestrial destiny and short-term existence.

Višnja and Marijan Anić have tried to nail down their fascination and admiration of the visual richness offered by the sea with the means they had at their disposal, in their case suitable photographic equipment and their role as concentrated and careful observers. Setting frames for an endless register of inspirations, they have composed their personal patterns and cut-outs, imposing – even if unwillingly – dominant rhythms and correlations of segments. Not only did they recognise the rich kaleidoscope of optical sensations on the shores of the Brijuni islands, but they also wanted to share with us their sensations in a restrained and unobtrusive way.

I do not think it inappropriate to say that modern and contemporary visual art is learning to observe the world around it, that without the experience of so-called abstract painting we would not be able to view real-life forms and structures in the same way. It would be no exaggeration to say that, in fact, non-figuration represents the realism of the macro- and micro-universe, but the truthfulness and objectivity of the photograph which captures details of natural phenomena or segments of cosmic movements indeed have the value of abstracting externality, the gravity of generalisation and distancing from a single case, the meaning of the orderly structuring of the composition and the surface.

“Painting with the Sea” by Višnja and Marijan Anić is an unpretentious process of giving shape to a fascination, linking two otherwise opposing realities: elemental nature and sophisticated technology, all for the purpose of causing an emotional and aesthetic response.

The sea has served as a kind of perpetuum mobile of fascinating pictures, as a generous and gentle transmitter of “positive vibrations”, as an ethereal insight into an abyss and as a mirror of the sun’s beneficial rays. The camera of our authors does not merely capture the epidermis, the skin of the sea surface, but pierces through various layers of diaphanous and flexible matter, creating the suggestion of not only three-dimensionality but also of widening, spreading and stretching in all directions.

The sea parcelled out into segments through the frame of the camera does not betray its nature as the elusive Proteus. Even in the orthogonal coordinate system of the framed picture, and even within the convention of the petrified lace of light, it feeds on a presentiment and defends itself with the threat of primordial restlessness.

If the photo-safari does not result in captured living creatures but only in the knit-work of glowing lines, the established network of elastic loops of the shimmering silvery (or golden) sea cobweb will serve to capture the enthusiastic sighs of the viewers.

(from the exhibition catalogue)