Aquabit Gallery / Auguststr. 35, 10119 Berlin
Luka Bunic has been living in Berlin for over a decade and is originally from Croatia. He comes from an artistic family and both of his parents were artists. His mother is a painter who has her own gallery by the seaside in Croatia and his father was a sculptor. Art has been a permanent part of his life ever since he was born. So, it comes as no surprise that he actually trained as a painter.
The title of the exhibition, Astral Falafel, is based on contradictions. Falafel is a popular street food easy and quick to make, ready to be consumed on the spot while astral is a non-physical or psychic experience that takes ages to achieve or experience. It takes a lot of training and a lot of time to be able to look at your own experience from a distance and evaluate its meaning and consequences. Sooner or later, you come to the point of instant realisation about your past, and your memory that pushes you to move on.
This is not the first series of artworks with hidden messages but this time the hidden messages are a lot more bold and more visible then before. In the previous artworks, you would have to look for the messages with a flashlight because they were written with fluorescent paint. However, as time pass the artist grows his confidence and the hidden messages are more and more detectable. Still, you have to decode them but nevertheless, now you know that there is information to unravel. Bunic approaches a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way based on his own personal experience and involves the viewers' minds by finally allowing them to decode previously hidden messages. The deeper understanding of his past experience is resurfacing onto the canvas and enables us to analyse our own understanding of our surroundings.
It is never easy to reflect upon your subconscious because you do not know what is hidden in your subconscious but in Bunic´s painting you can see the process of healing from childhood traumas, teenage traumas, and even war traumas because he also experienced The Croatian war in the early '90s.
Regarding war traumas, it is really interesting why Luka chose Berlin. During World War II, his grandmother was forced to a labor camp in Berlin where she met Luka's grandfather who disappeared during the bombing at the end of the war.
After the war like many other labour camp survivors, she did not stay in Germany and moved to another country to start a new life. That is what I find extremely interesting that the grandchildren of the survivors of WWII are coming back to heal generational traumas. Because any direct experience of any war leaves very deep scars on individuals and those scars are then passed on to their children and children of those children. It looks like the 3rd generation has the need or courage to face and investigate the evilness of places that were the roots of those generational traumas.
His previous artworks were a little bit more subtle and distant starting with a series of Moonwalker, Stardust, or Poems of Genesis to hedonistic Space Baroque and dripping paintings in the Touch of Unknown. In this exhibition, you see the end of the healing process and shift towards a new journey that reflects upon ongoing social issues in Berlin such as homelessness, and the realisation through personal experience that homelessness is not a personal choice but rather a failure of the social system and society.
Written by Veronika Hykova, art curator based in Berlin
Video: Surviving Ostkreuz