A Croatian Exhibition: Fool’s Gold Beauty
While we were exploring Pula’s castle and the views from the top of the fort, we came across a Forged Artworks exhibition. The showcase was situated within a room in the old fortress and therefore the setting was possibly the most interesting space for an exhibition that I have ever seen.
The exhibition space was an open cove with high stone ceilings and old flooring. The architectural beams placed in the centre of the room were joined to metal ceiling rails spanning the length of the room. Lighting hung from the ceiling, as well as interesting blue structures creating compositions when the guests peered upwards. The space was also silent which in some ways added to the mystery and unknown nature of the pieces.
I didn’t realise until I read the information plaque that the exhibition was a forged artworks showcase; it displayed pieces that either were created to imitate the work and style of famous artists, or were simply copies. The same replica practice that occurred in ancient Greek civilisations where vases, statues, and coins were forged was applied later to the work of some of the greatest masters of art such as Michelangelo which led to artists starting to sign their pieces of art. I also learnt that the increased prosperity of the middle class created a fierce demand and desire for art and antiques and so this was followed by the expanding market of copies and forgeries.
Therefore the aim of the exhibition was to de-glamorise art forgeries and their creators, as well as to warn the unscrupulousness of the black market internationally aimed at deceiving well-intentioned, yet naive and inexpert art buyers.
Artwork was positioned around the room on the walls and also free standing on easels in the centre below the lighting. The work ranged from abstract impressions and bold brush mark marking to intricate landscapes and figurative creations. Possibly my favourite piece of display was a forgery of Izvor Oreb’s painting, Beautiful Morning, from 2008. It is an oil on canvas outcome and has a very limited colour palette of shapes of purple - the lighter shades adding the highlights to the seascape scene and the dark purple adding the depth and dimension to the sail boats in the foreground. I appreciated the intricate use of colour and the blending of the medium to create such a realistic landscape and replica.
Before this exhibition, I had little idea of the forgery and stolen market that still exists with the intention of all talented forgers being nothing but deception and financial gain.