MARC STRAUS is pleased to present the first one-person exhibition of work by Marin Majic, on view January 6 – February 8, 2013.
Marin Majic, who resides in Berlin, creates paintings that present a vision of unsettling idyll. He draws imagery from varied sources—magazines, screen shots, film stills—creating plausible but unlikely combinations of scenery, faces and activities. Translating these collages into large-scale paintings with painstaking deliberateness, the images acquire a cache of familiarity in spite of (or due to) their uncanny subject matter. Several of the paintings include figures set against a background of expansive wilderness, stormy seas or rocky cliffs. The figures, often wearing costumes connoting safety and nostalgia, at times recall pictures from old Hollywood magazines or dusty snapshots that fill a parent’s albums.
Upon closer inspection, however, something is always awry. An adoring mother bids her son farewell, but at second glance it is revealed that their relationship is charged. Two school girls with beaming smiles stand side-by-side in a bucolic meadow, perfectly normal except for one crucial aspect. Happy-go-lucky adventurers sit in a rowboat on a stormy sea, blissfully oblivious to the tumultuous waves surrounding them. In perhaps the most unsettling work, full of Hitchcockian suspense, the formula is altered: instead of people in front of a landscape the roles are reversed. Large trees mostly obscure common brick homes, suggesting that it is what is hidden that is most alarming.
The key to these works is Majic’s extraordinary mastery of painting, which holds the viewer enrapt despite the sharp edge of the subject matter. There is a push and pull between narrative and style, a struggle between the viewer’s desire to inspect the lush, expertly painted scenery and their simultaneous hesitation at the unexpected content. In one moment each painting in the exhibition can change from enchanting to disconcerting; consequently each viewer comes back again and again with renewed interest and even amusement.
Marin Majic was born in 1979 in Frankfurt, Germany. He received his MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia. He was a finalist in the 45th Zagreb Salon as well as the Salon of Young Art, Zagreb, both in 2010. His work was included in the 2010 seminal exhibition After the Fall at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY, which travelled to the Knoxville Museum of Art. He will have a solo exhibition at Isa Gallery in Mumbai, India in January 2014.