jan-kempenares-podgaric-2010The decaying monuments from Tito’s Yugoslavia form the backdrop for Monumentalism – an exhibition curated by Anthony Bautovich at Kudos Gallery in Sydney opening on 8 November 2016.

Currently undertaking his Masters of Curating at the University of New South Wales Art and Design, Anthony has been awarded the 2016 Kudos Gallery Early Career Curator Award. The son of migrants from the former Yugoslavia, the curator’s interest in art from Eastern Europe was the catalyst for Monumentalism.

The exhibition will bring together International and Australian artists to respond to the emotional, political and social impact of the failings of the single party state. Exhibiting artists include Croatian multimedia artist Igor Grubic (film), Dutch photographer Jan Kempenaers, Sydney artists Tim Bruniges (sound), Biljana Jancic (installation), Kuba Dorabialski (video), Kusum Normoyle (video and performance) and Vienna based artist Marko Lulic (video).

The images featured in Jan Kempenaers’ 2010 book release, Spomenik – a Croatian word meaning monument, created an Internet frenzy. The alien like modernist structures in Spomenik captured the curiosity of the West. Memorials from the past, these abstract monuments were commissioned by President Josip Broz Tito to convey a sense of confidence and strength in the new Socialist Republic.

Designed and built in the ‘60s and ‘70s by leading architects and sculptors from Yugoslavia including Vojin Bakic and Bogdan Bogdanovic, these landmarks of modernism are located at sites of battles and concentration camps commemorating the victims of fascism in WW11.

The aesthetic beauty of these brutalist memorials challenges their innate and commemorative intention. Devoid of signs of ideologies, war heroes or religions, these abstract forms were symbols of a modern and unified future. Established as recreational areas to visit and cultivate a sense of national and cultural togetherness, these remote and isolated memorials now lay idle.

As the Balkans War took hold in the early ‘90s and Yugoslavia fell apart, the monuments became touchstones for the inherent hatreds from the past. Many of the monuments have been destroyed and even today the remaining memorials are being dismantled for their raw materials. The authorities turn a blind eye.

From triumph to tragedy, these abandoned and decaying forms are a reflection of a broken and disbanded state. The original intention for the creation of the monuments has resulted in their demise. Politics created the monuments and politics has destroyed them.

Kudos Gallery, 6 Napier Street, Paddington
Exhibition: 8 – 19 November 2016
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Jan Kempenaers, Podgari? 2010 – from his 2010 publication, Spomenik