Petra Varl

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©2014 Petra Varl

Granddad in a Topolino and the rest of the Family, installation view, wall painting at the exhibition Heimat/Domovina, MMMK, Klagenfurt, 2010

 

Granddad in a Topolino and the rest of the Family, installation view Granddad in a Topolino and the rest of the Family, installation view Granddad in a Topolino and the rest of the Family, installation view

My grandfather played an important role in my life. As my father and mother each lived in a very small room and worked all day, there was no way for the three of us to live together. Consequently I spent the first seven years of my life, along with my cousins, at my grandparents in a grey high rise in Šiška. My grandmother was sickly and soon passed away and my cousins were older than I, so my granddad and I spent a lot of time together alone. He really enjoyed repainting the apartment walls. Every few weeks we would mix a new color of paint and, without ever moving the furniture, we’d repaint the walls. This is how my granddad and I would variegate our grey everyday and very likely, how I acquired my love of wall painting.

 


 

Granddad in a Topolino and the rest of the Family, 2010

 

Sestrična  Barbara Teta Raša v kanuju Nuša Raša na klopci Nuša in Raša Teta Raša Stric Ivo 08	Teta Raša in stric Ivo z Boštjanom v vozičku Teta Raša z Boštjanom Raša z Barbaro Ivo z Boštjanom Smučar Boštjan Dedek v Topolinu Petra  na triciklu Dedek z Boštjanom Barbara in Boštjan

For the exhibition titled Heimat/Fatherland I returned to themes like home and family.While I was leafleting through a family album I found a photograph of me as a baby, lying on my stomach, with my mother stroking my head. This photograph taken by my father in our garden evokes a feeling of warmth, safety and love in me, very much like the notion of fatherland. For the exhibition I wanted to turn this photo into a drawing and even though the drawing I made was not as forceful and poignant as the image, I continued to draw motifs from the album such as one of my mom and dad on a Vespa scooter, my aunt and uncle next to a new Fiat Cinquecento, my mom and grand mom with a carriage, my cousins on bikes etc. In the sixties material acquisitions were important and people enjoyed showing them of in front of a camera. I was particularly drawn to the photos of my granddad in his new car and of me, aged five, with a kerchief on my head, riding a tricycle. Both photographs reminded me of my granddad so I drew them on two walls in the gallery.The portrait of my granddad on one wall and the one of me on the other are supposed to establish our connectedness. On the third wall of the room I strung a number of smaller drawings of other family members. I painted the walls grey, and monotonously hung on them the drawings, also drawn on a grey background, evoking the way I felt when I was growing up in the sixties in former Yugoslavia.

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Photo Album, text by Aleksander Bassin