Vlado Martek was born in Zagreb, and graduated from the University of Zagreb with a degree in literature and philosophy. By vocation Martek is a multimedia conceptual artist, poet and writer, and his oeuvre includes actions, agitations, ambiances, murals, graffiti, texts on his own art and on other artists, prints, art postcards, sculptures, poetic objects, paintings, art books and staged photography. Martek’s work can primarily be seen as avant-garde poetry. In this, he follows the tradition of other authors working in experimental poetry in the 20th century, standing opposed to the dominant lyrical paradigm of European literature.
From 1975 to 1978 Martek was a member of informal art group, Grupa šestorice (Group of Six), and with them he organised a number of exhibitions and art actions, as well as launching the magazine/catalogue MAJ/75 (1978 – 1984). In this early period of intensive activity, Martek started to exhibit his works in alternative galleries in Zagreb, including Podrum (Basement) and Proširena medija (Extended Media), and since then his works have been shown in numerous exhibitions around the world.
Martek’s work has become so prominent in Croatia that Professor Miško Šuvaković wrote a study on his art, called “Martek, fatalne figure umjetnika: Eseji o umjetnosti i kulturi XX. stoljeća u jugoistiočnoj, istočnoj i srednjoj Europi kroz djelo(vanje) umjetnika Vlade Marteka” (Martek, Artist’s Fatal Figures: Essays on Art and Culture of the 20th Century in Southeastern, Eastern and Middle Europe Through the Work of Artist Vlado Martek), which was published in 2002 by Meandar, in Martek’s hometown of Zagreb.
One of the concepts Martek is most interested in is that of pre-poetry, or the idea that poetry is not a finished, isolated work, but rather comes through the poet, and through the actual conceptualising and writing process. Consequently, Martek is suspicious of the poetry book or collection, considering it to be an artificially ‘complete’ form. Instead, he has published twenty-two samizdat books of pre-poetry to date, which are hand-bound collage works consisting of drawings, prints, photos and poetry, and which he distributes himself.
For more information on Martek's life and work, see the article on our Croatian domain by Dubravka Djurić, entitled ‘Vlado Martek’s Pre-Poetry’.
Imajte me (Have Me), selected works from 1980s, tamizdat, Ap-art, Kranj, 1995
Akcije pisanja: bol u tekstu, 1977–1996 (Writing Actions: Pain in the Text, 1977–1996), Naklada MD – SCCA Zagreb, Zagreb, 1997
Volim čitati poeziju (I Love to Read Poetry), Naklada MD, Zagreb, 2001
Pazi oštri tekstovi (Beware of the Texts), Horetzky, Zagreb, 2005
Neprilagođeni: eseji iz likovnosti (Misfits: Essays on Paintings), MH, Zagreb, 2005.
Predpoezija (Pre-Poetry), HDP/Durieux, Zagreb 2006
Konceptualistička poezija (Conceptual Poetry), Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 2010
Poezija se piše poniznošću (Write Poetry With Humility), DHK, Zagreb, 2010
Poezija u akciji (Poetry in Action), Delve, Zagreb, 2010
Elementarni procesi u poeziji (Elementary Processes in Poetry) Podrum Gallery, Zagreb, 1979
Lapsusi (Lapses), PM Gallery, Zagreb, 1985
Sentimentalnosti (Sentimentalities), Modern Art Gallery, Zagreb, 1987
Nevolje s etikom (Troubles with Ethics) Kapelica Gallery, Ljubljana, 1996
Paralele (Parallels) Karas Gallery, Zagreb, 2000
Pazi, tužni radovi (Beware of the Sad Works) Bukovac Gallery, Cavtat, 2005
Brandenburške slike (Branderburgh Pictures) Golden Eye Gallery, Novi Sad, 2006
Retrospective Exhibition, The Croatian Academy Glyptotheque, Zagreb, 2008
Poezija u akciji (Poetry in Action) Trieste/Ljubljana/Zagreb, 2010
Lissez Mallarme, Paris, 2011
Nova umjetnička praksa 1966 – 1978 (New Art Praxis 1966 – 1978) Zagreb, 1978
Inovacije u hrvatskoj umjetnosti sedamdesetih (Innovations in Croatian Art in 1970s) Zagreb/Belgrade, 1982
Zeichnen im Fluss, Vienna/Prague, 1990
Nova hrvatska umjetnost (New Croatian Art), Zagreb, 1993
Radical Art in Croatia: The Hors [sic] Who Sings, Sydney, 1993
Aspekte/Positionen, 50 Jahre Kunst aus Mitteleuropa, Vienna/Barcelona, 1999/2000
Misfits, Moscow/Vienna, 2002
In den Schluchten des Balkan, Kassel, 2003
Essence of Life: Essence of Art, Moscow/Saint Petersburg, 2005/2006
Kollektive Kreativitet, Kassel, 2003
Art, Life and Turmoil, Belgrade, 2006
Conceptual Art, Novi Sad, 2008
Who Killed the Painting, Nuremberg, 2009
Gender Check, Vienna, 2009
Ground Floor America, Copenhagen, 2010