STA, 13 July 2021 - As part of the Slovenian EU presidency, Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti opened an exhibition of contemporary Slovenian visual art at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday, entitled We Live in Exciting Times. The preparations hit a snag, but the minister was pleased with the final result.
The exhibition was opened by Minister Simoniti and Karol Karski, a Polish MEP from the Eurosceptic political group European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), who is also the Quaestor and Chair of the Parliament's Art Committee.
"It is beautifully and clearly laid out, the art is attractive and encourages passers-by to stop," Minister Simoniti said about the display, noting the significance of the exhibition being held in the European Parliament.
The participating Slovenian painters, sculptors and photographers, selected by curator Marko Košan from the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts, are Uroš Abram, Suzana Brborović, Nina Čelhar, Tina Dobrajc, Mito Gegič, Aleksij Kobal, Herman Pivk, Ana Sluga, Miha Štrukelj, Lujo Vodopivec, Sašo Vrabič, Uroš Weinberger and Joni Zakonjšek.
The paintings are displayed on the walls of the parliamentary corridors. The exhibition also features paintings by Jasmina Cibic, Arjan Pregl, Andrej Jemec, Lojze Logar and Gašper Jemec, and a sculpture by Drago Tršar, which are part of the European Parliament collection.
The way in which these works were to be included represented the stumbling block in the preparations for the exhibition, traditionally set up by each country during its EU presidency in cooperation with the European Parliament since 2011.
Simoniti cancelled Slovenia's exhibition in May on the grounds that he was not informed of the conditions in time. He disliked the fact that the Parliament wanted to present its own collection of works by Slovenian authors at the same time, because "Slovenia is an independent and sovereign country that will decide what to exhibit on its own."
However, the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts, which was commissioned to select the works, announced at the time that the exhibition would be set up under the conditions confirmed at the start of the preparations.
A few days later, the Ministry of Culture confirmed the exhibition, announced that it would be installed under the conditions requested by the minister and that Slovenia's selected works and the works from the European Parliament's permanent collection would be exhibited in two parts.
Minister Simoniti commented on these complications on Monday by saying that he wanted the exhibition to be set up the way it is today - first with artists selected from Slovenia, and then those from the European Parliament's collection, adding that the concept was turned on its head before. "The exhibition is set up the way I wanted it and I think it is set up well," he said.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament said that the concept was the same as originally envisaged, explaining that it is still one exhibition, but in two parts. They saw the complications as the result of misunderstandings, which they had never truly understood very well.
Asked whether the concept was the same as originally envisaged, Simoniti replied, "No, the concept is not the same. The catalogue is not the same. That was precisely the point, and it was often misunderstood in public, also because it was opportune to make an event out of a non-event, and that is why this has occurred."
Asked how he would comment on the allegations that he did not approve of one of the authors, Arjan Pregl, Simoniti replied that these allegations were false.