Ljubljana Flexes its Muscle with New Private/Public Galleries
The Slovenian capital is probably not widely known outside of Central Europe, but Ljubljana has a long history since the 1980s of an active cultural scene with artists’ collaboratives such as IRWIN, NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst), Laibach and philosophical enfant terrible Slavoj Žižek.
RAVNIKAR is a contemporary art gallery founded by Piera Ravnikar in 2018, she presents a diverse group of internationally renowned artists while striving to promote the emerging generation of young creators. It aims to showcase a wide range of imaginative art practices by creating a platform for local and international artists, collectives, curators, and others working in the creative industries. Recognising the increasingly important role that contemporary visual art plays in socio-political and cultural discourse, we seek dialogue between artists, the community of experts, collectors, and the general public through a range of multidisciplinary projects and initiatives.
Since its inception, the gallery’s fundamental vision has been to present intergenerational local art production on the one hand and to build lasting international partnerships to exchange knowledge and experience with foreign audiences, on the other. We try to achieve this primarily through our continuous presence at leading international art fairs and various exhibition exchanges.
RAVNIKAR is also a co-founder of ETC. magazine, an annual publication that showcases exceptional artistic talent from the Baltics to the Balkans. The main purpose of the magazine is to bring together artists, curators, writers, and publishers working in the field of contemporary art. Focusing on a different theme in each publication, the magazine aims to be a dialogue platform for a variety of voices and opinions from across Europe, contributing to a broader understanding of a particular theme and recontextualising a border-defined narrative.
The gallery is also the initiator of the Ljubljana Art Weekend, an international platform developed in cooperation with the Cukrarna Gallery and the City of Ljubljana. The LAW initiative is partner of the galleryweekend.org network of international weekends, both platforms give organisations active in the field of contemporary art in Ljubljana and those belonging to our partner network the opportunity to present and promote their programmes and integrate them into a single, centralised, and accessible platform. The first edition of LAW was held between 27 and 29 May 2022, addressed the (non-)functioning of the art market in Slovenia, the lack of a tradition of collecting, and raised some questions about how to stimulate this process. The second edition will take place between 25 and 28 May 2023.
Cukrarna Gallery opened in September 2021, the Slovenian capital has gained a new space that serves both as a venue for exhibiting contemporary art and as a place where thoughts can be explored and contemporary art projects of all kinds – visual, intermedia, performance, sound, music and more – can be created and presented. The presentation of artworks through exhibitions and events is just one part of Cukrarna Gallery’s programme. Working with artists and other stakeholders from Slovenia and beyond, and fostering longer-term participation and interaction, our fundamental mission is to fulfill the role of a truly contemporary art institution: to root our exhibition, interpretation, and education activities in pro-social, humanistic principles – respect for the other, responsibility towards the environment, and robust social criticism so as to constantly hold a questioning mirror to society – and to do all this in a way that is in keeping with the building’s past.
In 2008 the City of Ljubljana purchased the building and its grounds from its previous owner and from 2018 to 2021 the building was restored and renovated in accordance with plans drawn up by Scapelab before being transferred to the management of the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana, a public institution.