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Prešeren Awards

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Kostja Gatnik (1945)
For his lifetime achievement

The complex oeuvre of Kostja Gatnik was influenced by the expansion of the concept of visual arts and visual communications in the last quarter of the 20th century. He created in various fields ranging from painting, graphic design and illustration to photography. In all of them, he demonstrated great intelligence and exceptionally high standards of quality in ruthless self-control. Gatnik arrived on the visual arts scene with excellent pop art and hyperrealism, balanced by the conceptual art of the 1970s. In the late 1980s, we were surprised to see him convey profoundly personal and reflective content, which was sharp, direct and uncompromising. As an Art Editor at the Tribuna magazine, he dove into the complexity of pop culture, setting free from the modernist view that artistic media need to be refined and that not all creative genres are equally important. It is to his credit in particular that the discourses about the privileged artistic media lost all relevance to Slovenia in the last quarter of the 20th century. The talent and quality should never be biased by such pointless discussions. Even when he has been constantly present in graphic and literary productions with his caricature, comics, posters, record covers, book design and illustration par excellence, he has only showed his painting oeuvre rarely. It is almost as if Gatnik wanted to keep it to himself due to his personality trait of the uncompromising pursuit of perfection and quality. First of all, Gatnik is a brilliant drawer which is why he can express himself very effectively in many areas. His intelligence is manifested in both the economy of line as well as in the way he masters the dialogue, internalises it and establishes a dialogue with the selected stylistic periods of the contemporary visual arts tradition. His stroke is reliable, precise, critical, often humorous, ironic, and it should be specially noted, self-ironic as well. He has mastered graphic design, comics and especially illustration, which is distinguished for an extremely wide range of genres and his special gift of addressing a wide target audience. Anyone is fascinated and enlightened by either his drawing or his painting. Although he has been involved in photography his whole life, he has only just recently decided to expose his photographs which reveal the painter’s sensitivity also in this genre. Kostja Gatnik is a Slovenian cultural personality who started changing our perceptions about art, creativity, visual arts and visual communications decades ago. What has changed is not the mission of creating in communications but the approach, which can be described only by the creator's magic touch. With Gatnik, the choice of his medium has always depended on the message he wanted to convey.

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