January 13. 2022.
On the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the establishment of ULUPUH, ULUPUH under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia is awarding the ULUPUH Lifetime Achievement Award, the Award for the best exhibition and publishing project in 2021, and the Award for the best young author.
The Artistic Council of ULUPUH decided, and the Board of Directors of ULUPUH confirmed as follows:
– Lifetime Achievement Award: Ljerka Njerš
The work of ceramist and painter Ljerka Njerš is positioned in a special place in contemporary Croatian art, and in today’s ungrateful time of narrow specializations it speaks of the importance of diversity, synthesis and symbiosis of different art techniques, media and materials. We have never viewed the artist’s work only through the prism of the unification of different types of applied art, but rather a permanent desire for experimentation and openness to new possibilities of materials, genres and design techniques. Her almost Renaissance aspect of artistic activity is never lost in the quantity of artifacts, but is completely subordinated to the idea of artistic perfection and the abstraction of motifs into stylized and uniform scenes – regardless of whether she creates in faience, majolica, raku ceramics, glass, monotypes, painting on silk or in the most recent work where she uses modern technology in medium of digital photography and photo collage.
Therefore, when the art historian Ivanka Reberski asserted that such a sublimated purity of lines and shapes, whether it is floral motifs, a female figure or a landscape, “we have not had the opportunity to see for a long time in our art practice since the time of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, even from that era few can be her equal”, such praises had their concrete and easily verifiable basis in the artist’s oeuvre. I have already noticed once that the specificity of Ljerka Njerš’s creation is overcoming all possible limitations of the chosen medium and material, so sometimes it will be difficult to tell from the first whether it is a painting, watercolor or painted silk; drawing, watercolor or monotype; clay or porcelain. In this fascinating and easy play with the possibilities of materials, for Ljerka Njerš it seems as if there is no two-dimensional aspect of the work, and she tries to avoid it as much as possible in all her works,
The concept of a reduced and stylized landscape, which has no specific geographical or architectural topos, full of flowers, different trees, white doves, angels and a half-sitting or lying female nude points symbolically to the idea of synthesis of nature, and evoking permanent sources of beauty. The critic Vladimir Crnković points out that “all the artist’s acts are always specifically unreal and abstract, transformed into ideal images”, open to the so-called Renaissance metaphor. of the Garden of Eden, but also following the stylization of drawings and the choice of colors in the tradition of Fauvism and Matisse. Regardless of which material and medium she chooses, the basic features of this artist’s handwriting are related to the classical ideas of proportions, harmony and balance in the composition of a work of art.
Even in recent cycles of painted silk works, Ljerka Njerš indulges in the free connection of parts of the landscape, water, vegetation and sky, and through the concept of coloristic permeation and color complementarity creates works of extremely sensual, lyrical and at the same time expressive level of experience. In the entire oeuvre, the structural form of the landscape is brought to perfection, often set in the frame according to the principles of the scale of the Golden Ratio.
What distinguishes the art and great skill of Ljerka Njerš in contemporary Croatian art is not only the exceptional ability of synthesis and invention, but also the unencumbered nature of trends and styles. She has always been intensely interested in matter and the full range of expression possibilities in one material, where the author’s subtle iconography (Ivanka Reberski) appeared as a natural and simple part of creation. Without pathetic narrative and excessive decorativeness of shapes and colors, Ljerka Njerš managed to create an opus that in each of its fragments speaks of the beauty of the whole, the idea of nature as a metaphor for the continuous creation and renewal of life, and where sensualism and vitalism are positively balanced principles of action.
Ljerka Njerš is the only ceramist from Croatia who managed to make it to the prestigious exhibitions of the English auction houses Sotheby ‘s , Christie’s and Bonhams , where her works were particularly noted. In her work, she proved herself as an ambassador of Croatian culture and tradition of applied art in the world, from Austria to Japan, which speaks in favor of her unquestionable merits for the ULUPUH Lifetime Achievement Award, the explanation points out.