Željko Jerman

Born in 1949 in Zagreb, Croatia / Died in 2016

Croatian artist Željko Jerman, whose work is marked by experiments in the medium of photography. Jerman, active from the early 1970s, was one of the key figures of the historical movement New Art Practice in former Yugoslavia and also one one of the co-founders of the post-neo-avant-garde group Group of Six Artists (the other members were Mladen Stilinović, Vlado Martek, Sven Stilinović, Boris Demur and Fedor Vučemilović), with which he organized exhibitions and performed actions, first in “non-gallery” places and then in galleries and institutions.

Željko Jerman focused his interest on exploring the alternative possibilities of this medium, and was not burdened with a perfect technique. On the contrary, he intentionally makes blurry photographs that then become a surface for intervention with photochemicals, distemper, and in some works he also uses multiple negatives. Balancing between the two opposite points of creativity and destruction, Jerman moved toward the elementary, experimental photography, manipulating its expressive potential, often without using the camera. His early 1970s works follow the classic conventions of photography: they are properly composed, focused on the figure or the face and technically well-executed. But Jerman, as a committed member of the rebel generation, resented social models and consciously chose to be an outlaw. And while most of the other rebels soon gave in to the establishment in search of career opportunities, Jerman’s artistic and existential outlawry has lasted until his death in 2006 and that is why his oeuvre is still considered a «hidden treasure» from the region of former Yugoslavia.