Applicat-Prazan presents the historical and eternal, monumental and timeless work of Zoran Music (1909-2005). Born in Gorizia Frioul) in 1909, Zoran Music was deported to Dachau in 1944 because he was a resistant. At the risk of his life, he drew 200 sketches which described what he saw there: scenes of hangings, crematorium ovens, piles of corpses, that is to say, the inconceivable. Many years after his return, in the 1970’s, the artist painted a series of works entitled “We are not the last” in which he depicts the horror of the camps in the silence of the unspeakable. Zoran Music died on the 25th May 2005 in Venice. His paintings are held in most of the great museums the world over.
Composed of 17 paintings, this exhibition brings to light two series of his works which fascinate the gallery. “We are not the last” consists of 10 acrylic paintings on canvas executed between 1970 and 1974, and his major later works of the 1990’s, in which he reveals his inner realm, approaching his own end.
On this occasion, Applicat-Prazan and the publisher Skira have co-edited a magnificent catalogue created by Communic’Art, in which three authors pay tribute to the work of Zoran Music, each expressing themselves freely in their own manner. After contemplating the paintings, Boualem Sansal, Pascal Bruckner and Michaël Prazan have composed vibrant texts on the life and work of Zoran Music. Each, in his own style, with his personal sensitivity, has written a text addressing the themes of life, death, the monumentality of this work, human tragedy, History and the issue of the duty of remembrance. Each of the authors concludes with references to contemporary barbarity and the tragedy of current events.
Boualem Sansal, Grand Prix du Roman from the Académie Française in 2015 for 2084: La fin du monde (Gallimard), is the author of an eloquent text entitled Painting or Life (or The Path to Nothingness). This remarkable text, to be read at two levels, alludes both to the past and to the present. His vocabulary expresses a universal and timeless interpretation of life and thus, of death. Boualem Sansal opens his reflection with “Being alive is not living, it is recalling every now and then, that you are on the road to death. Between two warnings—two frights—there is the all-consuming daily routine, harsh and meaningless. Then, on a cold misty night, everything comes to a halt in a dreadful silence.” He goes on to express his perception of Zoran Music, a man he never met and whose work he has discovered through this exhibition. “Zoran Music bore witness to the magistery of death and life that, on this spot, at that time, enabled life and death to take root in the same body, like Siamese twins who share the same torso. Death exists in life and life is already death.”
In a Post-Scriptum written after the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, the author adds a statement outlining his lack of optimism in the face of fundamentalism and hate: “As I write these lines intended for people tormented by memories of the past, a strange future has begun to dawn on earth. It will certainly be hard to live through—the first reports are terrifying. And did we see the signs?” He concludes on a resigned and moralizing note inviting us never to forget. “It is right, brothers, to recall here and now what was, and what will be. That is the way humans are: they’re made of memories, only memories—we must never forget that.”
Pascal Bruckner met Zoran Music in the mid 1990’s during the war in ex-Yugoslavia. Zoran Music must have spoken about himself and the origins of his painting. As a novelist and philosopher, Bruckner has positioned himself against the threats of terrorism and the illusions of the end of History, since very on early in his life. On this particular occasion, he incites us to delve into this artwork, by observing it in detail and by seeking “a direction among the shadows,” while also revealing, as does Boualem Sansal, the timelessness of this work and its striking resonance with our current era. “With Zoran Music, everything begins in a haze, with a veil that simultaneously hides and reveals. His paintings strike us first of all by their hue, the colour of baked earth that covers the entire surface. He softens our gaze the better to sharpen it—he obliges us to focus. The muted tone forces us to seek clarity, to seek a direction among the shadows.” (…)Each of Music’s paintings must not just be seen but contemplated. Sepia places the content in a kind of eternal, timeless yesteryear.” He knows that Music never got over this ordeal, after which “To anyone who has been through Hell, no return is possible. The world is broken, serenity is gone.”
At the end of his contribution, Pascal Bruckner draws a parallel between this work and post-mortem photography, used in the 19 th Century. “Music did the opposite: he set the living in the pose of the deceased, recording them just as they slide into the great serenity of nothingness. That is what the hermit of his Anchorite series is meditating: on the verge of exhaustion, he senses the fragility of life. A ghost contemplates nothingness, preparing for the grand voyage. Art is a fragile grace accorded over extinction.”
The French writer and film director, Michaël Prazan, is a passionate enthusiast of History and literature. He composes literary texts as marks or memories by means of which societies can better be understood. His contribution here is entitled “Zoran Music, The Art of Bearing Witness” and describes the principles that guide the artist: “To bear witness: Zoran Music was not the only person to experience that urge as an absolute necessity. All inmates of concentration camps—and, more broadly, the prisoners and forced labourers sent to the Nazi death centers who had the requisite ability and skills—fulfilled the injunction to testify.” Michaël’s commitment to this particular theme, comes from the history of his own father who, as a child, was hidden with his sister during the war, the only survivors of a family deported to Auschwitz. For Michaël, the Shoah and Auschwitz are always present in his life and inseparably associated. The works of Zoran Music have a resonance with his personal history and the writer points out a number of historical
clarifications on this subject. Like the two prior authors, he also evokes the timelessness and eternity of this striking artwork. “He left behind a monumental, timeless oeuvre. It bears witness to the catastrophe in Europe between 1939 and 1945, and also, extending beyond the time-frame of that tragedy, to the torture of humanity in all places and periods. Now that a new totalitarianism has emerged, now that barbarity knows no borders, when civilians are once again being tortured, massacred, crucified, and decapitated, when Eastern Christians and Yazids in Syria and Irak are perhaps facing a new genocide, Music’s oeuvre resonates all the more powerfully. He and his fellows in misfortune, were not the last. They were an avant-garde, they were scouts on the outposts of the world’s endless havoc.”
Catalogue : Zoran Music (1909-2005)
Creation – Edition : Skira Paris
Design : COMMUNIC’ART
© Éditions Skira Paris, 2016
Legal registration : October 2016
Printed in Belgium at Geers
Zoran Music (1909 - 2005)
16 rue de Seine - 75006 Paris
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