Nina Čelhar's exhibition curated by Piera Ravnikar at Ravnikar Gallery in Ljubljana.

Nina Čelhar: Still (Waiting) Life
Curated by Piera Ravnikar
March 17 - May 20, 2023
Ravnikar Gallery, Ljubljana

The design, form and comfort of our home can say a lot about us and our personal relationship with space. Because we perceive our surroundings through our emotions, these very surroundings often hold a certain psychological power over us without us being aware of it. Good architecture can take advantage of this; well thought-out and designed living spaces express certain moods that they seek to foster and maintain in their residents. Our home is the centre around which we organise our lives. We tend to surround ourselves with objects that testify to our values through their materials, shapes and colours. In a way, they reflect our identity and become a physical manifestation of our personal beliefs.

It is this complex relationship between the interior of the home, its user and the outside world that is at the heart of Nina Čelhar's work. Her work can be recognised by recurring variations on motifs from contemporary architecture, especially its minimalist interiors, materials and objects found in every home, such as concrete, chairs, curtains, lights and plants. The interiors and exteriors depicted are mostly idealised, simplified, abstracted and almost devoid of perspective and shadow. The colour scheme consists mainly of cool hues in similar shades, areas of lightness and intensity. These are very important as they contribute to the meaning and content of the artwork; even the smallest changes can alter the atmosphere of the overall work. In addition to the virtually transparent colours, the sensibility of the artist's paintings is also due to the use of a thin, almost transparent cotton canvas.

In the exhibition Still (Waiting) Life, the artist explores the concept of the ideal living space for the contemporary individual and the personal connection between the two. Although the paintings are defined by the absence of human figures, their implicit presence is clear. In other words, our surroundings are a witness to who we are – our personality, our desires and the inner emotional states we want to achieve. The interiors and everyday objects depicted reflect our quest for what we lack in everyday life; they exude a serenity that contrasts with the hectic outside world. In search of tranquillity, Čelhar reflects on her living space. She often finds it not in the laborious and detailed process of painting itself, but in the finished artwork. The artist hopes to pass this therapeutic effect on to the viewer. The compositions, the openness of the pictorial space, the minimalism and the translucent colour tones are crucial in achieving this. Another central theme is the closedness suggested by the windows, through which we discover not the contours of the outside world but the nothingness of whiteness. Looking through the window, the paintings convey a sense of waiting. Here the concepts of loneliness and aloneness also appear, but they are not interchangeable – the cellophane and the curtains act as barriers, blocking the view of the flowers and the windows, and thus of the outside world. The spaces created by Čelhar are inevitably directed towards our inner world, both literally and figuratively, as they encourage us to contemplate and reflect on ourselves and our surroundings, hoping for calming and soothing impressions.

Nina Čelhar (1990) completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in painting at the Academy of Fine Art and Design in Ljubljana, where she received the Academy Award for Special Study Achievements. For a year, she was perfecting her knowledge at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. Through the medium of painting, she explores the experience of dwelling. Her works focus on the meaning of architecture as basic living environment, exploring how it dictates our everyday lives and movements, in a way controlling and directing our very existence. Using limited palette, subtle and fragile technique, her paintings emit tranquil and elusive feel, steering the viewer into a psychological space, stripped of all tangible distractions. Nina Čelhar regularly presents her work in independent and group exhibitions at home and abroad. Her work is included in such collections as Albertina – ESSL and Riko.

Photo: Mario Zupanov