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Others about Oskar Kogoj


Acad. prof. dr. FRANCE BERNIK, literary historian, writer and academician, Ljubljana

Culture as a spiritual activity exists, as a rule, outside any political or management structures of society and state; it does not advocate certain interests nor does it personify the will for power or dominance. It articulates a world of values – spiritual, ethical and aesthetic – that is less clamorous than the world of politics, yet it is for this same reason more profound and oriented towards the very essence of humanity. Genuine culture develops away from the public media, within individuals who strive to surpass and reach beyond the triteness of everyday life, and to establish a more personal and meaningful existence for others and for themselves.
Both through his professional orientation and as a person, Oskar Kogoj belongs to this kind of world. He is devotedly committed to the Good and the Beautiful. The Good in the sense of quality and excellence in design, as well as in the sense of ethical meaning, is demonstrated in the reconstruction of his mother’s residence in Miren and its conversion into a gallery and space for a permanent collection. This act signifies his respect and homage to the memory of his ancestors as well as his faithfulness to individual and national identity. Mr. Kogoj has been a devoted disciple of the Beautiful from the very beginning. Anywhere, in any domain, even in his design of industrial and mass-produced objects, he expresses himself as a true artist – a creator of refined and elegant lines and forms.

Throughout Kogoj’s opus both the Good and the Beautiful are permeated with the glow of a certain invisible force that pervades his creations and products with an extraordinary, almost fluid content. It appears as if spirituality was transferred from his persona into his work, as if profound meditation was imprinted into materials, as if the master shaped them with the intention of releasing them from their substantial weight and of dematerialising them. Perhaps it is precisely this endeavour that may be identified as the unique value of Kogoj’s artistic design.

FRANCE BERNIK

Prof. Dr. PETER KREČIČ, art historian and critic, Ljubljana 

The designer Oskar Kogoj is a legend of Slovenian design: an eternal explorer, eternal traveller, aesthetician, and hedonist. All the specified characteristics are most likely linked to his place of birth, which he never actually left. He lives and creates in Miren near Gorica, where the hilly karst descends to the plain and which from time immemorial has been inhabited by Furlans, i.e. the Romanic Italian populace. More than others (for instance, continental Slovenes) they know how to accept and cherish the joyful side of life as well as the aesthetic and well-tended living environment. Accordingly, it appears that nothing would be more natural for him than to enter the profession of designer. This enables him to unite both the joy of living, through his creative gratification, and the creative intervention in the environment of his own home, as well as of numerous other estates, by means of his artistically and industrially designed products.

Such personal orientation was also confirmed by his studies at the faculty of design in Venice, which in those times (the end of the sixties, when he was already leaving its premises) primarily emphasised, as did other European schools, the functional perspective in the area of design: mass production, and faith in new materials such as plastic masses, stainless steel and plexiglass. Nevertheless his first plastic easy-chairs designed for Nova Gorica furniture manufacturer Meblo prompted numerous reactions that surpassed exclusively professional deliberations on function and form, design and industry, marketing, and sales results. These easy-chairs were somehow unorthodox and were more inclined towards independent and absolute design than towards design intended for the needs of the marketplace. It is no less than paradoxical that they actually emerged within the socialist system, which was unable to form any truly developed marketplace, or perhaps they came into being for just that reason. It is true that the industry of the time didn’t know how to handle what he had to offer it, although his exploits could have turned into a great European design topic. Fortunately enough this experience did not stop Oskar Kogoj on his path; on the contrary, he continued to persist in his role of the happy-go-lucky child who could tackle anything, and who, at least in his own eyes, triumphed in everything as well. In the seventies he thus embarked upon the design of children’s toys, large ones at first, conceptualised in plastic masses, and smaller pieces later on, from a wooden scooter to a rattle and a peg top. He discovered the exquisite beauty and warmness of wood. 

He was already an inquisitive and curious individual prior to this, always questioning the background of various things, objects or tools, probing into their origin and the symbolic values that they brought from the past. Yet from that time on he deepened his observation in his own unique way. He started to contemplate Slovenian mythology, sayings and proverbs, magnificent personalities, and the fated interconnection between the human and his natural and national (social) environment. A heightened ecological awareness also contributed to his development and consequently, from the beginning of the eighties onwards, his concept of natural design or nature design, as he himself christened it, came to fruition. Irregular forms, which are shaped in wood by nature, were thus poetically transliterated into practical objects such as chairs, tables, trays, mirrors, and even a violin. The bow and hunting knife originate from the dim time of antiquity, yet they are also used at present in certain sports and in hunting. A Venetian horse, as he shaped it following the depictions on Neolithic situlae (lat. for pail), numerous other animals, and symbols of extinct peoples, stem from the same mythical background, which appears to be a part of the past that is recognizable to us all and therefore cannot be manifested in anything other than sculpture.
Upon the request of individuals and renowned personalities he also designed his bottles, glasses, goblets, vases, jugs, pitchers, and cups, which were traditionally manufactured in the "industrial” manner, introducing a particular, authentic approach, literally granting them his stamp and breathing into them an inimitable uniqueness. Yet he only seemingly departed from the industrial way of reasoning and from the object’s industrial outlook, that is, he distanced himself from the perspective of the bygone belief that the fine look is good when it is generalised, since only generalisation (simplification) should be the true expression of the industrial way of thinking. The industry is, namely, capable of anything, even the mass-produced appearance of uniqueness, yet only the quality – the superb quality of design – is capable of safeguarding the product’s image from its decline into industrial kitsch. 

Oskar Kogoj may thus be characterised as a designer sui generis, a voyager, a nomad who drifts between statuary art and industrial design, who travels between his own environment, his nation with its mythology, and other nations with their mythologies and modern practices. He wants to know everything, and the aim of his insatiable curiosity is to discern that, which is most mysterious, most precious, and most sacrosanct, something for himself and the friends who are close to his heart. 

PETER KREČIČ

ROBERTO RODA, ethnographer, photographer and historian of photography, Ferrara 

What is hidden in designs created by Oskar Kogoj? How does he manage to make us marvel at his artwork over and over again, whereas Western society is seeing only the triumph of consumerism and an obsession with the incessant substitution and elimination of everything on which the tiny dust particles of the bygone moment might just have settled?

It seems that Oskar Kogoj’s objects manage to liberate us from our confinement in clichéd habits and fashion; they promise that they will accompany us throughout our lives.  They calm us because they make us feel that they are going to survive us and that they will pass on to our descendants at least a fraction of the things we had possessed, admired and loved. 

This is generally the fate of all works of art; therefore we are not very far from the truth if we say that the designer from Miren has the incredible ability to breathe an artistic note into everyday things. Kogoj’s creations desire to be admired, and simultaneously they entice us to touch them, to caress them and use them for useful purposes. Chairs, for example, are in all their beauty also ergonomically very comfortable. Beer mugs are richly, in some parts rustically, decorated, in order to celebrate the luxurious and lavish renaissance forms, yet also to prolong our delight and to preserve the pleasant beer foam for as long as possible as we leisurely sip this fermented liquid while enjoying a serene conversation. And even in the case of water, which bursts from the taps of our polluted metropolises, it seems as if the water served in Kogoj’s glass artwork has been regenerated and has once again reclaimed its pristine purity.

Are this just illusions generated by our desire for the Beautiful? It may well be so, yet our designer replies with a categorical "no”, since he intensely believes in nature packed with hidden vital energies. Or more precisely the energies that the modern human is no longer able to sense and consequently cannot utilise. Kogoj’s design, the so-called nature design, however, doesn’t simply revive forms taken from nature, but primarily seeks to create forms that may succeed in making us recognise and appreciate the life energy of nature (energy design) once again.

Kogoj does not stop in observation and admiration of nature but wants to comprehend its mysteries. For that reason he investigates long forgotten wisdoms; he rediscovers and draws on teachings of ancient, antique cultures (he extracts the shapes from archaeology and ethnology), since he believes that ancient cultures had an intense, genuine, and positively unspoiled attitude towards nature.

Primeval energies? Hidden natural forces? Are we to consider Oskar Kogoj an esoteric author?

I would rather say not. Instead, one may claim that the designer from Miren is in his unique way mysterious. In his eyes nature is a manifestation of the supernatural; it is the mystery of universal creation. His design stems from biological, carnal, and sensual forms, whereby it seems that they always hide the symbol of woman as progenitor of life, the primeval goddess, Neolithic Venus, powerful mother, Mother Nature within them. God and nature are one and the same thing!

As I observe Kogoj’s forms I inadvertently think of Mirce Iliade, the great researcher of the history of religions, and of his reflections on the mysterious eroticism of India: "Each naked woman personifies nature, for that reason it has to be observed with the same admiration and with the same degree of distance, as when we reflect upon the unfathomable and inconceivable mysteries of nature and its infinite ability to create.” Contrary to female nudity, however, Indian mystical thought calls for those emotions that are unveiled in the revelation of universal mysteries.

Now try to substitute the image of female nudity with the marvellous sensual forms of Oskar Kogoj. You will notice that his creativity is inspired by the spirituality of Yoga and Tantra. Imagine that you own an object designed by Oskar Kogoj, be it a piece of furniture, a glass, or a bottle, and it will appear to you as if nature has become a part of your world once again.

If we paraphrase Buddha, it seems as if Oskar Kogoj uses his forms to convince us that nature is divine, that nature is life, and that nature is an embellishment of life. "Let your soul always be present in the midst of nature” is an invitation with which this exceptional (for many perhaps still a swimmer against the tide), internationally acclaimed master of industrial design addresses us.

ROBERTO RODA

YAFFA GAON, academic adviser for Art and Design 

One can't write about Oskar Kogoi, an artist, a designer, lover of nature and beauty without looking at his art from the point of view of these three words, Nature-Creativity-design.
When I first met Oskar (1989) in his studio in Miren, Slovene, we had coffee on a little booth situate over a stream , covered with grapevine. The sound of the wind, the noise of the running water, taste of the good coffee, all of them told me "here is an artist who goes hand in hand with nature. Nature as the environment around us and a nature designed and created by Oskar".
Oscar Kogoi was a revolutionary artist and designer. Like the radical design people in Italy, he wanted to weave "a golden thread" between the traditional culture of Slovenia and his creative ideas, turning them into beautiful items for everyday life.
I came to Miren to meet Oskar Kogoi with my husband Izzika Gaon, than the Chief curator of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Curator of the Design and Architecture department. He wanted to invite Oskar to have an exhibition in the Design and Architecture department.
Listening to the long talks between them I learn so much about Oscar kogoi the artist and designer rand his creative way to look into nature, and his very special way to turn nature into design.
In 1990 Izzika Gaon opened the exhibition "Oscar Kogoj- Design from Nature" in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
The Horse of peace – The Venetian horse (1990)
"Through the house of peace or the spiritual horse, which I tool from the famous situla of Vace, I bring ancient Slovenian culture back go life – the culture of the Venation. In it I represent the spirituality of man".
Sculptures of the Venetian Horse found place in The National Park In Geneva, in the trade center of Lubliana and one was donated by Oscar Kogoj to Jerusalem, Israel, calling him "The Horse of peace". Izzika Gaon advised the Municipality of Jerusalem to set him in the garden near by the place of the first parliament and, his head with a hidden golden star, looking toward the old city sparkling good energy from west Jerusalem to East Jerusalem.
If you visit Jerusalem center city today, you can find him looking toward the old city of Jerusalem with hope for peace with children tourists and local people passing his way and hoping for peace.

Teaching art-creativity-thinking
Yaffa Gaon, Tel-Aviv, November 2019

ARIANA B. SUHADOLNIK, Director of Institute for Tourism of the Municipality of Miren-Kostanjevica

Oskar is an artist and, first and foremost, a Man with a capital "M”. A conscious Slovene, he is proud to be a descendant of Veneti – one of the oldest civilisations in the world, whose traces can be found in mankind’s heritage across the globe.

World literature has much to say about his achievements in design. Oskar’s countless companions, who have had the opportunity to share a part of their path with him, have learned a great deal from his unique perception of the world.

With its primeval link to the nature, his restless spirit is on a constant search for the visible and hidden messages of nature, which it uses to the attention of people – the central and most perfect creations – from the very beginning to the essence of their mission in the thoughtfully measured-out times of their journeys.

With the help of this great artist, each freshly discovered symbol from the heritage of ancient cultures, or even an entirely new and fresh natural creation from the home garden, produces a content-wise, energetically and spiritually assembled echo that manifests itself in the clear form of a unique product made of natural materials.

Each piece of work is made so as to fill our hearts with timeless beauty, inner peace, satisfaction and joy. It inspires us, transcending both space and time with a message of eternal love for life.

Kogoj’s works resemble the unforgettable moments spent in the company of the artist, who is an eternal researcher, observer and traveller. Kogoj uses his unique creations to selflessly transfer both knowledge and behaviour, ultimately moving the boundaries of understanding the links between the visible, invisible, physical, metaphysical and spiritual worlds – the higher forces that determine our existence outside the rational frameworks. The master of industrial design has transcended these frameworks with the help of Sai Baba, his greatest teacher.

I am forever grateful to Oskar for our friendship and the priceless life lessons he has taught me.

ARIANA B. SUHADOLNIK

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