Bruce W Whitehead


When viewing a retrospect or series of Maya Kulenovics’s work, it is not uncommon to be struck by the impact of the pieces as canvases, and the force of the pieces as a collective. Overarching themes that deal with war, waste, consumption, and their consequences are imminent; her pieces speak to us about tension and resistance. Wars are not only fought on the battlefield but exist all around us, in the most mundane of situations. What Kulenovic does is take the everyday actions that we have accepted as mundane, and exposes the conflict that resides within. Kulenovic’s paintings tell stories, and direct the viewers’ gaze to the micro level of their individual subjects, while simultaneously reaching beyond the individual and expressing the macro state of a society in which these individual experiences have occurred. The subjects, along with the artifacts to which they are juxtaposed, rest in secluded spaces of neutral backgrounds; the cohesion of the piece comes from the written text, that being the name of the piece.

These five paintings, although representative of the breadth of Kulenovic’s work, when viewed together, lead the viewer down a path in which connections can not be denied.

The ripple effect of individual actions, has a very real and absolute impact on the social world: the ideologies we cling to for security, the need to protect our lifeways results in a contradictory relationship with the natural world. We kill animals for pleasure and sport, they often become the unintended victims or war and political upheaval, those being the times that conflict within our species results in a similar disregard for human life.

The faces of LAMBS stare back from the canvas as portraits of the innocent. Defenseless, their purpose was singularly decided before birth –this is the slaughter of owned property. As a deeply religious icon, this slaughter and discard may suggest the larger political and social upheavals we experience as a culture; consumerism overrides the previous constraining institutions of social control and individual morality.

HOG, she lays there as if she is sleeping. She has either given birth or is soon to give birth. Yet, she is laying on a bare floor, without bedding, food, or water. Her condition is uncertain, but what is certain is that this natural state of being is transient, as an agricultural animal, the viewer can assume she will not die from natural causes.

CARRION, is a regal bird of prey. One that hunts as part of a defined ecosystem. A system that exists independently of man. This is nature at it’s purest. Yet, in lieu of taming such a wild animal the opportunity to hunt it for sport and then display it for pleasure is too much of a temptation, something that again, reinforces ideologies that give humans the right and privilege to domination over all.

In BITE, however, suddenly the situation has been reversed. An infant has been mauled. This is a tragedy, something that we can invest in emotionally without being prompted, as a part of that same ideology that allows us to treat all non-human residents by differential standards of violence and paternalism. We all bear the mark of violence and history upon us at birth, this image hints towards that inevitability. Yet, it is critical to note that a bite, although a tragic occurrence, is a superficial, external, and temporary affliction.

ODDITY, a child is born disordered, but this originates from within, from our genetic code. Nature is no longer tamable. How do we predict, prevent, and fight such a subversive undermining of our authority and dominion? Our control is being undermined by our own bodies.

We exist in a state of constant warfare against each other, the non-human species on our planet, and real and imagined enemies. Gripped by consumerism that begets waste, we now meet our final challenge: we are at war with our own bodies. How do we react, and what do we embrace?

As we advance as a society, we become increasingly disconnected from our humanity and compassion. The death of animals and the destruction of natural habitats has become commonplace and tradition - the way it always was. As a society we actively fight to keep inhumanity intact.

We have already lost so much.

L'œuvre atavique de Maya Kulenovic provoque malaise immédiat et ne laisse personne indifférent.  Sa thématique préconise la perte, l’impuissance, l'imminence.  Le tout, mis en situation avec brio, dans une formidable perspective atmosphérique.  L'iconographie de Kulenovic est insidieuse.  Son œuvre s'impose à nous et propose un univers inquiétant chargé de tensions dans un microcosme utérin. Chaque œuvre commente une histoire, une mémoire, un souvenir personnel insidieux qui ramène le spectateur vers sa propre mémoire.

Chacune des 5 œuvres présentées ici est unique et ne fais pas partie d'une suite.  Cependant, leur juxtaposition révèle ici une parenté indéniable.

Chaque intervention si minime soit-elle, finit par provoquer une réaction en chaîne au niveau planétaire. Il y a une dichotomie importante avec notre quête du bonheur absolu dans une société progressiste tout en éliminant de façon systématique, notre héritage planétaire. Nous tuons par plaisir et le sport.

Les agneaux (LAMBS) nous regardent avec innocence. Sans aucun autre droit que celui de finir dans une assiette, leur destin a été scellé bien avant leur naissance. Le pouvoir évocateur de ces icônes dénonce une consommation boulimique et gargantuesque.

HOG, repose sur un plancher nu, d'un sommeil sans rêves. Elle vient de mettre bas ou encore est-elle sur le point de le faire.  Les informations ne sont pas toutes claires mais une chose est certaine, on peut certainement présumer qu’elle ne périra pas naturellement.

CARRION est un fier maillon de notre écosystème. Un système qui englobe une humanité qui le nie.  Plutôt que de s'en faire un ami, CARRION sera exhibé comme un trophée.  Cet œuvre est un exemple qui établi le pouvoir, le privilège et la domination de l’homme envers l’animal.

 Avec BITE la situation est inverse. Ici c'est un enfant qui est molesté.  Cette tragédie a un puissant pouvoir émotionnel puisqu'elle nous renvoie le traitement infligé a nos frères non humain dans notre civilisation nihiliste.  Tous, depuis notre naissance, nous avons eu nos morsures.  Après tout, rappelons-nous qu’une morsure, même tragique, demeure superficielle, cela n’est que temporaire.
ODDITY est un enfant souffrant d'une difformité congénitale. Nous n'avons pas de suprématie sur la nature.   Nous est-il possible de prévoir, et combattre quelque chose de si invisible? Il est impossible d’obtenir un contrôle de ce qui vient de l’intérieur

Notre société progressiste évolue en nous éloignant de notre animalité. La destruction de nos habitats naturels est maintenant banalisée. Notre rôle en tant que société, devrait être de combattre a garder 
notre humanité intacte.

Nous avons déjà tant perdu.

LAMBS, 2004

HOG, 2005


BITE, 2005

ODDITY, 2005