Stojan Grauf / The Earth Does not Belong to Human Beings; Human Beings Belong to the Earth
accompanying programme of EKO 8, International Triennial of Art and Environment
UGM Studio, Trg Leona Štuklja 2
16 April – 6 June 2021

authors and music performers at the exhibition: Asja Grauf, flute; Miha Klemenčič, programming; Sašo Vollmaier, keyboards
curator: Andreja Borin, museum counsellor

Since Stojan Grauf's painterly beginnings in the 1980s, his creative efforts have been closely linked to nature and the natural environment. In the artist's work, nature is not just an inspiration, a muse, or an occasional companion, but an organic part of the creative process and an inseparable part of drawings, paintings, and interventions that emerge from his hands: the painter boils the charcoal which he uses for drawing by himself; the stretchers of his paintings are made of tree branches; he often uses paints and natural pigments gathered on-site; his exhibitions regularly include tree branches, pebble stones, sand, etc.

Stojan Grauf invariably talks to nature intimately and for himself. Occasionally, he also shares his discoveries with a spectator or a random passer-by. He likes to include the thoughts of Native Americans in his works and exhibitions (also in the title of the present exhibition), and thus establishes a critical view of the role of the modern human. This time, the artist also incorporates in the exhibition at the UGM Studio handwritten quotes from the climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, which resonate with his views. This gesture adds a sense of engagement to the exhibition and relates it to the broader context of environmental issues. As an artist connected to the local environment, Stojan Grauf draws attention to its destruction and deterioration, such as of the cultural and natural heritage of the Betnava Mansion and its park.

In the present exhibition, two favourite locations of the artist meet: the park at the Betnava Mansion and the Drava River. The artist has been visiting the Betnava park for over three decades. In 1984, he organised there an unorthodox solo exhibition, which was followed in the next two years by two group exhibitions of Maribor artists. In 2017, Grauf created in the Betnava park a series of drawings using natural pigments, soil, and water from the site. Today, the water no longer runs through the canal, but the artist still occasionally returns to the park for fresh inspiration. Another constant in the artist's work is the Drava River, which also inspired his last exhibition at the Maribor Art Gallery over ten years ago. Nature, the relationship with nature, and creative efforts go hand in hand in the work of Stojan Grauf. As a matter of fact, they are parts of the same whole.

The exhibition, which is part of the accompanying programme of the EKO 8, International Triennial of Art and Environment, will present around fifty drawings and paintings from the artist's creative work of the last decade.

Stojan Grauf (1958, Maribor) graduated in 1983 from the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts, majoring in painting under Prof. Gustav Gnamuš. He lives and works in Maribor.