The Department of Painting at the Arts Academy of the University of Split was founded in 1997. The founder of the study of painting was emeritus Gorki Žuvela.
During twenty-five years of its existence, study programme at the Arts Academy in Split has been based on two complementary focuses. On one hand, students should gain an overview of traditional disciplines in arts education. In the context of painting this entails the fundamentals of pictoriality (i.e., colour technology and theory) and genre painting, as well as several competences foundational to every sort of visual expression (i.e., drawing, as a nude and as spatial proportions key to the education of both sculptors and architects). On the other hand, students are simultaneously introduced to approaches and equally important techniques and technologies used in contemporary visual design, i.e., typography and most reproductive techniques – from print to photography, video, electronic image and comics as well.
In addition to mastering traditional media and identifying their limitations, this approach encourages expansion/transgression of their boundaries. Thus, students should be able to think outside of the painterly medium or beyond any other restriction that would refer to a tradition of differentiation of artistic media or to a rigid distinction between art and reality, i.e., strict distancing from popular content in contemporary culture. This does not involve the utopian character of historic avantgardes or a desire to merge art and life or the postmodern relativisation of established values. On the contrary, in encouraging interdisciplinarity and re-medialisation within the medium of painting the aim is a new, more precise/subtle and, in the context of today, more appropriate differentiation of both painting as a medium and art in general, thus establishing new principles that determine its difference in relation to culture and the reality of life in general.
These starting points, which simultaneously rely on the tradition of conventional media and support the extensions of the same in the sense of freedom of expression and morphologies based on contemporary technology and forms of virtual reality – are verified in recent art (in painting as well) as interdisciplinary and intermedia practices/experimentations (i.e., objects, installations, performances, actions). Basically, this kind of programme aims to support a range of individual visual expressions recognised as such in the syntagm “artistic freedom”.
The described framework for practical arts classes at the Department of Painting is followed by theory courses that introduce students to art history and general knowledge. In addition, there are courses that focus on new theoretical paradigms and philosophy of art. This fact is especially important because it points to links between artistic practice and theory within the study programme. It also supports a conscious approach to questioning the difference between the idea of media and imagery and the general notion of visuality, to which a shattering resolution of question concerning the concept of image and pictoriality in the world of pictures – in which technology and virtual media increasingly take on the meaning of new reality (as in technosphere) – is immanent (Ž. Paić). In whole, the study programme does not intend to answer to the question of what image is now. Instead, it provides insights into what it could be from the standpoint of expanded concept of painting, along with themes that introduce students to its tradition and conventions. The expansion of this medium’s boundaries does not mean its drowning in the reality of technosphere. It is an effort to differentiate past and upcoming spheres, and to indicate potential in defining strategies anew that formulate the status of artwork and positions of artists in the age of visual/pictorial/iconic turn.
The Department of Painting has organised student exchanges at European level and has signed inter-institutional cooperation agreements (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig / Germany, FH Aachen – University of Applied Sciences / Germany, Fachhochschule Köln / Germany, Artesis University College / Belgium).
The department has organised and accomplished national and international collaborations on projects concerning student workshops and exhibitions domestically and abroad (Academy of Applied Arts, University of Rijeka, Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig / Germany, École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Toulouse / France, Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Escultura La Esmeralda Mexico City / Mexico, Graduate School of Fine Arts of Algiers, Algeria).
Many collaborative projects, yearly presentation of students’ works, students’ solo projects and works as part of Masters’ theses have been regularly presented to the public via exhibitions at renowned institutions in the country (Museum of Fine Art, Split, Multimedia Cultural Centre, Split, Centre for Culture and Lifelong Learning Zlatna vrata, Split, Museum of Split, Old Town Hall, Split, Student Centre Gallery, Zagreb, French Pavilion, Zagreb, Slavonski Brod Gallery of Fine Arts, Slavonski Brod, University Gallery Vasko Lipovac, Split, Knifer Gallery, Osijek, Kortil Gallery, Rijeka, Villa Oršić, Varaždin, Academia Moderna, Zagreb…).
The study program is open to the mobility of students in accordance with the principles of the Bologna process.