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 »  Home  »  Culture And Arts  »  Damir Matausic, sculptor and medal designer
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Damir Matausic, sculptor and medal designer
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/29/2007 | Culture And Arts , History , People | Unrated
His symbol-forming intuition in condensing the complete artistic history of the people

Damir Mataušić

Damir Matausic - one of the students of Zelimir Janes - made his entrance into this rare and exclusive medium at an early stage: as a twenty-year-old artist, mature in style and individual expression. His coins from the years 1973 and 1974 (The Well of Life,Tin Ujevic) present to us the essential spiritual and intellectual characteristics of the medal designer: the feeling of belonging of overall value to a system of excellence. The medal designer creates this system gradually as a symbolic sublimation of history. The imaginativeness, the inquisitive, even experimental spirit have led Matausic in his early years in the direction of the creation of a virtual world in the form of a plaque-tryptich, the standing-up figure (The Tree of Youth) or hermetical sculptural micro-compositions (Space). Series, strings and chains that he made in 1979 and 1980 have definitely brought about his affirmation as the most competent medal designer of the younger generation. In the Deans' Chain of the Academy of Art in Zagreb he has shown his symbol-forming intuition in condensing the complete artistic history of the people into a system-chain containing seven fundamental medals. The definite formation of the artist's medal-designing type of conscience has begun here, and the perfection of the making of the medallic micro-relief has finally been determined.

The birth of a new poetics was systematically directed by this work of art. Since that time his work has been made consistent, and yet, in continuity, while creating signs, innovative on two essential levels - the level of sign and the level of system.One can follow the creative dinamism of Matausic's poetics like the birth of a small cosmos of medallic signs, determined by an inner structuralization of meaning and sense, which are to develop complex interrelations. The central circle of values - the national culture - has been analitically articulated by Matausic; when dealing with foreign cultures he has applied the synthetic way. Empathy- a powerful characteristic of his personality - has monitored his inventiveness while discovering potential cultural symbols, which its expression promoted into signs of complete cultural complexes. Ancient Chinese Culture (1984), Walls on Yugoslav Soil (1988) and Islamic Confession (1989) are characteristic examples of the above. We can follow the creative development and branching out into plastic alomorphs of the key signs of his ideal and ethical leitmotifs. The pulsating of the global projection of the Earth, the cross as the symbol of suffering and faith, as well as the structural and ideal uniting of values, divided by time, but akin to the ideas of similar values, like e.g. Blaz Jurjev Trogiranin and Emanuel Vidovic united into one, bipolar medal-like structure, are only some of the poetologic innovations. The two obverses have thus become reverses to each other in a mutual inversion, in which each value has a connotation, additionally making them illuminate each other.

The structures that have mutually bound signs in this way have entered complementary relations with their very icon-like quality. Besides, Matausic's work shows characteristics of development of specific polysemantics of symbols. It is the iconic eurithmics in the graphic structuralization of the sign and the intriguing enigmatic quality of the sign that gradually uncovers layers of hidden and foreboded meanings that enable and deepen his poetics. The medal is the commisary of history. And it speaks through his work, cleansed down to its meaningful and emotional quintessence. This mission and the awareness of it is what Matausic expresses by his work. The medals from the 90s tell us about the current times.

The string of cultural projects prepared by the Museum-Gallery Centre, the sponsor of the systematic medallist projects of Damir Matausic, has somehow got interrupted in these years. Croatia had suffered attacks and the current history got critical in such a way that the past was pushed into the background, or was revaluated and updated in a new way. Besides, the sociocultural constellation, where the author would meet orders and challenges, became more restless, dispersed and differently structured. The commemorative festive coin as a form of the medallist design variant and the state that featured as the party that would order it turned this exclusive honour into a more popular, but all-encompassing expression of general national feelings and aspirations. This was the time when Matausic created the humanitarian medal as a new medallistic institution in terms of value (For the reconstruction of the destroyed monuments of culture in Croatia - 7 992), as well as the symbolic archetype of the national a/rrenc/(Croatian Coin - 7 991), and further, the symbolic anticipation of the money as the holder not only of commercial values but also of the national and state identity. Throughout all this time the artist further developed the technology of the medal making. After encrustration and the application of copper and gold upon the silver coin (thus being able to come up with several variants of the same iconic-fabular picture), Matausic arrived at such a hermetically cleansed sign that crystallized one motive into an iconographic ornament. He achieved this terseness with his medals dedicated to the leading figures of the national culture in the area of language and words - Vatroslav Jagic, Stjepan Ivsic and Antun Barac (1995). The other pole in the structuralization of the medal field, in contrast to this sublime iconogram, is present in the medals featuring a very complex inner iconic structure. This range was spread in this particular period by two mediums present in his creative work, going in divergent directions of the target discipline and the target formative freedom. These mediums were the medium of money and the medium of small plastics of free forms.


Damir Matausic
Ulica Stanka Andrijevica 30
10000 Zagreb Croatia
tel. +385 1 377 8980

500 anniversary of Senj's Glagolitic Missal, medal, 1994.
diameter 70 mm, silver and copper
500 obljetnica Senjskog glagoljskog misala, medalja,1994. g.
promjer 70 mm, kovano srebro i bakar

Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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