A mixed technique painting on jute canvas from 2019 entitled Stone Landscape in brown and yellow shades, with judiciously disposed accents in black that surround the stone structures and redirect the viewer’s gaze: to the outline of an animal fleeing from the rocks into the unknown? To a trail that guides us? To the place where the earth touches the sky, where in the limitless cosmos you can be no more than an insignificant fragment, where all of us are “mere tiny grains in relation to that One to whom we give many, different names. Yet in every grain the whole of the universe is present. . .” (Marko Uršič). Or simply to the flash that, for painter Blaž Vehovar, crystallises into thought, vision, image and action? The action of a painter and conservationist who breathes the same air as nature and animals? One painting. One of many created in recent years out of concern for the conservation of nature. For the conservation of animal species. For the conservation of respect. Paintings with titles like Bison, Wolves, Meadow or Karst Landscape that contain messages of love and concern.
Blaž Vehovar is a pupil of the Venetian school, an artist who, like a number of other Slovene artists of the generations that emerged in the last decade of the past century and the first decade of this, benefited from the mentorship of Carlo Di Raco of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, who persuaded him to reflect broadly on substantive and formal starting points and postulates. Internalising them over the course of his creative journey, he has built them into his own personal form of artistic expression, within which he maintains a fresh and distinctive signature. Colour, light, space, composition and brushwork that emphasises movement, touch and, at the same time, the application of the paint – these are all important elements of his work. His paintings frequently include endangered animals, which he places in the borderland between abstraction and a realistic vision of imagined natural environments, in this way creating a dramatic atmosphere that addresses and touches. Provokes. Leaves impressions of insights and urgings. Impressions of profound concern and commitment.
Blaž Vehovar is not only a subtle and contemplative observer of nature; thanks to wildlife researcher Miha Krofel he is also actively engaged in the fight to conserve nature and the animal world; he is a dedicated researcher of the historical past that, with its cruelty, hostility and contempt for human dignity, marked the life of his grandmother, who survived the horrors of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. He is a respectful admirer of the works of three creative individuals who have written themselves into world history through their attitudes towards Man and Art: Primo Levi, Boris Pahor and Zoran Mušič. All three of them death camp survivors. Mušič’s Stone Landscape cycle represented one of his creative peaks. In shades of brown and with a highly individual drawing style, Mušič expressed all the pain of the human body and the landscape that, decades later, Blaž Vehovar perceives in this boundless expanse, with a similar choice of colours, as a threat to the survival of the values and aims that make life possible for all living creatures. Works on the theme of humanity’s relationship with the world and nature, with a special love for animals, speak in a mature artistic language that draws on the tradition of Venetian painting while also leaning on all the current sources and borrowings of contemporary visual art; they speak of the engagement of the artist who can see into the future and confronts us with the present.
dr. Nelida Nemec