Critics’ Picks

View of “Kristian Kožul: Intercisus,” 2021.

View of “Kristian Kožul: Intercisus,” 2021.


Kristian Kožul

National Museum of Modern Art- The Josip Račić Gallery
Margaretska 3
October 7–October 31, 2021

In a 2017 essay on Croatian artist Kristian Kozul, critic Klaudio Štefančić ties the sculptor’s biomorphic objects to his interest in forensics and its recognition of the human body as the ultimate unimpeachable witness. In more recent presentations, it has seemed like Kozul is experimenting with the possibility of perjury. Staged under the dome of the Meštrović Pavilion at Bačva Gallery, his 2018 solo show “Forensic Folklore: The Archipelago” offered an atmosphere somewhere between that of a space-age fitness center, a locker room, and an abandoned laboratory. Would-be protheses—almost-arms and not-quite-legs—in perforated stretch and synthetic leather lay strewn across standing frames suggestive of gym equipment or jerry-rigged IV stands, while rubber floor mats created the illusion of asymmetrical puddles, to a kind of primordial ooze-meets-Peloton effect.

If Kozul referred to that installation as “an afterimage of brutality,” his most recent exhibition, “Intercisus,” plays like a bloodless autopsy. Approximated body parts—thicker now, and more bulbous—are carefully laid across a series of platforms reminiscent of trophy bases. Ditching the black-and-white color scheme that dominated “Forensic Folklore,” the artist has now charged his palette with a screeching vermillion. The fire-engine-red vinyl reads like the wiped-clean surfaces of hospital waiting rooms, the white mesh like bandages. The sculptures share the intricate construction of Kozul’s past work, but now there’s an added viral quality. It’s almost as if the individual components are replicating themselves, building back the body in ways ungoverned by anatomical design.

Kozul’s objects hint at a failure of science as religion, and possibly vice versa. (A wall-mounted work in the second room features two model hearts, a nod to what might happen if one were to try to reconstitute the bodies of the saints from purported relics.) As the artist observes, faith in forensics demands its own kind of fairy tales.