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Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj and its 20 Years in the City of Prešeren

Barbara Kalan, MA

The beginnings of the Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj date back to 1995, when Marko Arnež, Head of the Gallery, initiated the organisation of the first exhibition entitled Painters to the City of Prešeren. The purpose of the exhibition was to attract as many renowned Slovenian artists as possible to the capital of Gorenjska. The exhibition and the funds from the sold paintings helped promoting the name of Kranj, the City of Prešeren.

Buildings, related to the life and work of France Prešeren, the greatest Slovenian poet, in Kranj were also restored and presented to the public then. This first exhibition was followed by four exhibitions entitled Fine artists to the City of Prešeren, confirming that Kranj wishes to host top Slovenian fine artists. With these exhibitions, Kranj won its recognition as the City of Prešeren, which remains so until this day.

In cooperation with the Museum of Gorenjska and some Slovenian museums and galleries, the Municipality of Kranj prepared a large retrospective exhibition of all incumbent Prešeren Award Winners and Prešeren Fund Award Winners of Fine Arts in 2000. Works of more than one hundred exhibitors were presented to the public in the galleries of Kranj. Marko Arnež, holder of this project together with Nace Šumi, PhD, throughout this time, then came up with the idea of systematic building of the collection that consisted of artworks of both Prešeren Award Winners and Prešeren Fund Award Winners.

By 2002, the Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj was hosted in Ravnikar’s Pillared Hall in the unicipality of Kranj building. Later it acquired its new premises in the old Pavšlar house at Glavni trg 18, in the old city centre. The first exhibition in the new premises was dedicated to a Prešeren Fund Award Winner from Kranj, Vinko Tušek, Bachelor of Fine Arts (1936–2011).

Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj could not have operated so well without the stablished cooperation with the Prešeren Fund Board. Already in 2008, all the candidates for the artistic award were presented in the gallery as soon as the nominees for the Prešeren Award and Prešeren Fund Award were announced. For twenty years now, the Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj has been promoting the recipients of the highest artistic awards of the Republic of Slovenia awarded by the Prešeren Fund Board.

Since 2010, the Gallery has been organising a topical exhibition of both Prešeren Award Winners and Prešeren Fund Award Winners on 8 February, which is the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. This way they continue the tradition long cherished by the Museum of Gorenjska and its cultural history curator Beba Jenčič. 73 artistic exhibitions of the Prešeren Award Winners and Prešeren Fund Award Winners have taken place in the Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj from 1995 to 2015. A permanent collection of artworks was formed as well. The gallery therefore boasts a rich permanent collection, comprising more than 560 artistic works of 83 Prešeren Award Winners and Prešeren Fund Award Winners, which in terms of volume and quality greatly exceeds local frameworks.

A number of art historians and art critics have cooperated with the Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj in these twenty years. In addition to Nace Šumi, PhD and Lev Menaše, PhD, there were also Milček Komelj, PhD, Andrej Medved, PhD, Miklavž Komelj, PhD, Andrej Smrekar, PhD, Milena Zlatar, Marko Košan, Robert Inhof, Jure Mikuž, PhD, Breda Ilich Klančnik, Nadja Zgonik, PhD, Goran Milovanovič, Ferdinand Šerbelj, PhD, Nadja Gnamuš, PhD, Andreja Hribernik, Damir Globočnik, PhD, Nives Marvin, Milojka Kline etc. The gallery has also cooperated with numerous Slovenian galleries and museums for many years. These are Museum of Gorenjska, National Museum of Slovenia, National Gallery of Slovenia, Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana, International Centre of Graphic Arts, National Museum of Contemporary History, Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, Carinthia Gallery of Fine Arts Slovenj Gradec, Art Gallery Maribor, Božidar Jakac Gallery Kostanjevica, Piran Coastal Galleries etc.

The fact that numerous Slovenian museums and galleries together with their curators are willing to cooperate and support us, and so are all the awarded artists, proves us that Prešeren Award Winners of Fine Arts Gallery Kranj has been accomplishing its ambitious mission of presenting and collecting artworks of both Prešeren Award Winners and Prešeren Fund Award Winners.

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