About the artist

The creative elixir of Horvat’s life energy

An unstoppable creative instinct drives the painter Goran Horvat to ever new dimensions, in which the artist takes hold of cultural heritage, melts it into the vigor of his own imagination and grips new ways of expression – he has added, sculpting and furniture manufacturing to drawing and painting as if the creator is trying to fill all his life surroundings with his own vision.

Since the closeness of his famous father marked his childhood imagination and eruptive nature, which spread into the whirlpool and dreamlike fantasy forms, the artist focused on primal memories and autobiographically spread tiny buildings with the local church and the house, objects, animals and human figures from his own life experiences to the cosmic vastness, and then expanded his view of life and the existence of mankind since the beginning of time. The Bible particularly excited him with its mythical personalities and dramatic events, so his graphics and paintings are filled with its cosmology of expanse, and he imagined a series of monumental figures into which he breathed the spirit and pathos of mythical or prehistoric periods. It is no wonder that Horvat’s creativity constantly pulsates in dialogue with the known and unknown authors, the Renaissance and Baroque, but to this dialogue he brings his unmistakable drawing diction and gives it his distinctly own, personal seal; only in some biblical imagery the author relied more literally on Doré’s ideas, but he translated his compositions into his own artistic language, too.

Due to his orientation towards fiction, the artist was also excited about Bosch, Dalí and the emotional Chagall. So, in his early “autobiographical” works he put behind a round-table under Dalí’s Cross a crew with his father, Dali and himself. Horvat’s penetration into the depths of life events was also inspired by an insight into the bowels of Shakespeare’s plays – one of the results is, among other things, concentrated in the “As You Like It” cycle of etchings – he was particularly excited about Dante, especially with the motif of dogheads which astounded an art historian Emilijan Cevc. Thus, the painter, spontaneously embedded in cultural history and at the same time committed to living a creative phantasmagoria, rapidly developed into a highly unusual creative personality which penetrates from troubled modernity into the historic timelessness and stares into the eternal dynamics of life, which in its whirling, chaos, and constant cravings in contradictory human relationships represents solely interplay and turbulence, maltreatment and intoxication and hopeless search for the meaning. Therefore, constant restlessness is crucial for the artist and constant metamorphosis is the essence of his creativity. It is ruled by primal fantasy, dynamic expression and patterned saturation or basic ornamentation that dynamically coordinates his canvases.

Everything in Horvat’s paintings lives in the dynamics of linear drawings, braided lines and patterns that push the entireties in their troubled whirling rhythm; an artist with a sense for tactile surface structure of materials may use discarded materials for his platform, such as carpets with their textile structures and patterns or even leather and shiny metal elements, which Horvat includes in his pictures quite self-evidently or even uses them as their driving force.

Creator’s motif repertoire is constantly changing, upgrading and renewing, its tangle includes modern architectural ambiance of cubic oscillating city or each time new flowers and greenery, but the artist’s observations also resonate actual historical or current events, such as questions about the Slovenian flag or a search for a recently lost plane in the ocean. However, the foundation of such creative events is rooted in history, human searching and delusions, and it physiognomically leans primarily on the masked heroes of ancient times, so the artist’s figures and his art are often seen as heraldic, caught in the memories of old weapons, armors and insignia, and other times they stare from dulled vintage paintings in their beauty; and yet they seem live and primal in their directness.

The painter’s imagination scenes are lit as in the dark fires, in the glitter of pyrotechnical flashes, in the mystically colored yellowness, and look like a fleeting illusion in a warring conflict of hypnotic vibrant colors, while they immerse in more refined, mellow accordance in a larger, more monotonous harmony. Their construction or organic rhythmic dynamics are always crossed by a fiery and whirly, sometimes even arabesque, drawing, which greedily sucks human and animal anatomy, landscape and objectivity into its linearly crisscrossed colored tissue.

Such saturated images are extracts of vital energy which Goran Horvat, before his 60th birthday, has been inexhaustibly scattering around for decades by giving into the impulses that urge him to work constantly and intensely. He is literally and greedily, if not over hastily, letting out, reviving his ideas in ever new cycles, which are, in the last decade, dominated by ships or vessels. He revives them with a drawing vehemence using masts to break down figures of ancient boats, of deathlike ships from fairy literature, but also completely new and at the same time antique devices with specific purposes. Such is, for example, “Reconnaissance vessel”, and in mysterious ships we can feel the author’s sense not only for the fairy tale past and hardware design, but also for futurology. Horvat even dramatically changed his father’s theatrically decorated funeral casket, rushing to eternity, into a fantasy Jaki’s flying boat. Basically, his work does not consent to any specific time, however, when you look at the “Time vessel” with a clock on board, a sense of archaism is dominating, because of that the artist covers some scenes with patina in an almost folk bronzed tone; therefore, his most characteristic animals from his bestiary are mostly extinct but revived lizards and insects, whose corroded contours and relief of body surface are full of crest like dismembering pointed patterns. The same monsters, especially giant insects in addition to the picturesquely diverse poultry and birds of all sorts, are convincingly revived in a rural pheasant farm or a castle-museum menagerie of his wooden sculptures.

In them Horvat’s attitude towards the diversity of materials is significantly proven, as he cleverly integrated waste or found items, especially wood scraps, including parts of hayracks, industrial chairs or discarded centuries-old wine presses, and so he resurrected, with a lot of witty invention, his fantastic or fantasy perceived figures that are more real, as well as all sorts of monsters or spatially dynamic statures, one of which in the spirit of a chanson-like poet proclaims to people to turn on the light. The sculptures are often dominated by the structure, which changes through addition of elements in their metamorphoses into ever new combinations and diverse fantastic designs of figurative and abstract elements. Some works, such as an angel or a horsey and witty dwarfs, are based on a plastic core and their surface breakdown, which shows the author’s sense of massive materiality or corporeality that is revitalized with a drawing-relief-motif silhouette pouring from all over; otherwise, Horvat’s sculptural poetics is realized by assembling a variety of segments that open up a whole structure in all spatial directions, where anthropomorphic or zoomorphic and ship shapes can change even into picturesque vases. With this sense, the author designed (for some of his paintings) the at times quite bizarrely conceived wood decorative frameworks enriched with carved or metal elements that rely on the old tradition of carpentry as well as the artist’s practical technological craft experience; but in the spirit of today’s expression they are close to the framework of the IRWIN group. Such is, for example, with a dark frame organically linked painting of an Indian elephant, which brings an oriental flair into Horvat’s work which is more than typical for the artist.

Painter and sculptor Goran Horvat is a flexible conqueror of life who is aware of his own obsession and commitment that people owe to past-time and creators; he is also creatively grateful to older influential contemporaries; one of the influences, if not the greatest one, was Pablo Picasso with his metamorphoses and imagination, with his Avignon ladies and minotaurs. Therefore, among Horvat’s works we find in addition to the citation of segments in the pictures a special “homage” to Picasso and Chagall, as well as Böcklin and artist’s father or Tisnikar, and there are also deliberate and specific allusions to other masters; sometimes the painter also painted in his own way some famous motif, such as Rembrandt’s man with a helmet. But the memory of all those ancestors is always newly forged or melted into the artist’s lively personal artistic language rooted in the painter’s family tradition and embraces with childlike directness and enthusiasm the biblical proportions of creation and mythical grandeur and spiritual visions, among which there is no shortage of angels; his sculpting hands bring creative playfulness even to his closest and most familiar environment, the massive “framed” family chairs and rocking chairs or in the construction of a parasol for his garden; in the yard by Savinja river and in his garden, where the stones between the greens change into ancient elves, and profiles of statues in their fantasy also evoke memories of the witty phantasmagorias of the medieval cathedrals.

It is difficult to say unambiguously where all Horvat’s activity originates and what he wishes to communicate today, even if it is clear that the artist stares at life from outside of time or all times at once and sees it as a single, continuous, overfilled and more or less absurd human stage or as a comedy of life and its more or less terrible confusions, the depiction of which requires a superhuman creative power. The only certainty is that Horvat’s untamed activity comes from the extremely lush fantasy life that inspires the ancient as well as more recent heroes and swirls and revives in the fierceness of ideas and illustrating visions, which mostly live as the artist’s fantastic reality, even if sometimes they resemble esoteric visions and symbols. The author shows the world directly rather than commenting on it or preaching about it; it is like he is constantly watching the changing kaleidoscopic wizard sphere, where everything that exists or happens between people reveals itself to him in a range of grotesque brothel motives of chivalry and regal allusions. At work, the artist is compelled and directed by the rapid pace of his abrupt gestures that are simultaneously connected into saturated wholes, in which all segments and innumerable details combine and flow into a uniform and flashing glimpses of entwined restless bustle, whether it is a massive “spectacle” scene from Dante’s Inferno or playfully dynamic nature and exotic luxurious flowers of glowing heavenly gardens.

Horvat’s creative patterns can be a combination of greenery and figures, flaming flowers or illuminated ship sails. Under the influence of raving splendour everything is constantly fiercely incorporated and Horvat’s drawing vines outgrow every structure like seaweed and bring it a living and at the same time a weathered growth and crystalline vigor, which purpose and meaning we do not know any more than we understand the lush vegetation of the nature and beautiful patterns in animal skins and human drapes or knightly armors. Everything goes on and swirls and builds itself from itself like the volcanoes, which throw the bowels of the earth from their subconscious to the surface, where even precious stones can shine.

Goran Horvat paints scenes from human history, starting with the Bible, and particularly shows its continuing chaos illuminated by a foreign and mysterious beauty hidden in imaginative combinations of flexible lines and magically shining unearthly light. But we do not know what is in this apocalyptic chaos, even in the Bible-hellish colored world of redemptive truth, and why are we so attracted to it; as well as we do not know what is implanted in the eruptive Goran Horvat so he can paint such worlds which grow from him literally simultaneously with such vigor. Is this perhaps an embodied desire of his father’s mission, which Jaki’s son is bound to continue, but has really torn himself as much as he could from the mighty father without denying his volcanic clan?

Academic Emilijan Cevc, who appreciated the works of Goran Horvat and was completely taken by him in his writings, once recommended Horvat’s work for me to observe and assess, and he said to me lapidary but admittedly: “There is something about him!” And this “something” is as elusive as a flame that runs from the dragon’s throat, as a drift of wind and a dance of waves that comb the waters of the ocean as they swirl – and settle down in the Böcklin depths – for Horvat’s dark and at the same time starry ship of creativity.

Dr. Milček Komelj