Marij Pregelj Up Close
Creation and preservation of Marij Pregelj's paintings
25 April – 11 June 2018
Opening: 25 April 2018, 8 p.m.
Moderna galerija, Cankarjeva 15, Ljubljana
The exhibition prepared by the Department for Restoration of the University of Ljubljana, Academy of Fine Arts and Design (UL ALUO) and the Department for Conservation-Restoration of the Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (MG+MSUM) entitled Marij Pregelj Up Close is the final part of a several-year-long project, the aim of which was to investigate the methods of creating and conserving-restoring the works of art of this great Slovenian painter. The investigations were based on both scientific research and empirical tests. The scope of the work required for the preparation of a large retrospective exhibition exceeded the capabilities of individual institutions; therefore, already in 2014/15, the Department for Conservation-Restoration of MG+MSUM was joined by ALUO's Department for Restoration, contributing human resources and financial support for the set goals within the projects Taking a Creative Path towards Practical Knowledge (PKPZ) and within its regular programmes, in cooperation with the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Restoration Centre of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia and the National Gallery in Ljubljana. These projects were co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and European Union, through the European Social Fund. The exhibition, including studies of details, a display of conserved- restored paintings by Marij Pregelj, descriptive, graphic and photographic presentations of our work and a video projection, shows the activities in the conservation-restoration and science studios of the above institutions in previous years. With the opening of the exhibition, we start the 11th Conservation-Restoration Transversal, integrating the Slovenian events presenting the creation, conservation and restoration of our cultural heritage with all the other events carried out within the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.
The scientific research helped us to understand the painter's technology and make decisions regarding the conservation-restoration procedures. It turned out that the painter mastered the technology and that most of the paintings on canvas were in pretty good condition; however, his large portfolio also included a number of paintings that suffered several minor, and also major, damaged areas due to the environment in which they were stored at a particular period of their existence. The possibilities for taking samples from the artworks and their investigation were limited as such actions involve interference with the surfaces of the paintings that would have been unacceptable in the cases of completely undamaged paint layers. Scientific research and technological studies, most of which were, consequently, carried out on the basis of observation and only a few on the basis of the cross-sections of the paint layers, provided the foundation for planning and implementing the conservation- restoration procedures on the selected works of art.
This exhibition highlights only a part of our preparations for the retrospective exhibition, which also includes several works of art made on paper. In order to at least partly show the challenges associated with this type of artwork, a highly fragile painting made on paper takes up the central position in the exhibition. Due to its large format and inappropriate storage, the treatment of this item was especially challenging and it has not even been entirely completed. However, this particular case allows a clear presentation of and an insight into the work of conservators-restorers.