Oliver Laric, Human with ram (detail), 2024 / Photo: Ivan Zupanc
Oliver Laric: Calibrating
Mar 8 – Jun 8, 2024
Eugster || Belgrade
Belgrade, Serbia

Defying time and the law, Oliver Laric (*1981, Austria) made a name for himself by releasing 3D scans of classical and antique sculptures free of copyright through the website threedscans.com. Both models and references over two thousand years of creation, these classical and neo-classical models have expressed the quintessence of perfection and grace, whose influence on form and balance still has a certain impact.

Continuing his research into modes of dissemination and reconstitution, and producing works based on these models, he simultaneously employs several materials and techniques, notably 3D printing, which he makes cohabit, seeming to summon up all the possible forms of incarnation that these models transmit from century to century, from models to copies, from inspiration to imitation. Oliver Laric plays with the seductive effect of this visual opposition of models whose antiquity and diffusion place them outside time, combined with technological processes ranging from digital imaging to production abandoned to the machine. To what extent does this discrepancy allow us to renew our approach? What impact do these processes have on our perception of what constitutes a “work”? As early as 1935, Walter Benjamin expressed the impact that mechanized production of works of art could have on a work of art, compromising or even changing its value and status, by affecting its aura. But contrary to this loss of value, the fascination with these new technologies and the multiplication of forms of production that liberate the concept and form of the work as much as the hand that creates it – theoretically at least, through the use of the machine – paradoxically creates an attraction and a new form of mystery that enriches our perception of art.

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Oliver Laric has lived in Berlin for many years, but it wasn’t long before he was able to grasp the organic relationship between Central European art and the forest. What was Albrecht Dürer, the great naturalist artist, thinking when he meticulously painted a lime tree on vellum? The attentive viewer sees in the superimposition of strokes the way the artist hollowed out the depth of volumes thanks to the concentration of dark pigments, while seeking to translate the quivering of leaves through the reserves of paper from which the light emerges, or correcting the immobility of the drawing thanks to the vibration of white highlights… although produced with quite different tools, Oliver Laric’s recent works seem to extend the research of his famous predecessor. For Beech Tree (Volkspark Hasenheide, Berlin), Laric rendered a digital image extracted from a 3D scan of a tree and applied the digital milling machine to a metal plate. This image is translated through an algorithm developed by himself, which translates different shades of grey to differently angled lines, prior to being CNC routed. So, when he digitally records the shape of a tree, an organism in constant motion and transformation, he takes a piece of the living, which he restores in a fragmentary way by CNC milling. The flickering and polarization of light on the hollowed-out, chemically-treated metal plate seems to suggest a radically opposed technical approach, yet one so emotionally close to his predecessors. The result seems to have the same ambition: just as with Dürer, the fragment becomes a tool in the service of understanding, so works from the past like a modest branch can, with boldness and the complicity of new technologies, construct, from the trace, an infinity of narratives and new forms of enchantment.

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