Nikola Ukić: Make a Wish


On Friday, March 1st at 7 p.m., the Waldinger Gallery will open a solo exhibition by Nikola Ukić, an author from Rijeka with a Düsseldorf address, significant for his research in the field of contemporary sculpture sculpture research. The exhibition entitled “Make a Wish” presents his latest works, which are inspired by a dialogue with the exhibition space itself. This exhibition is a continuation of the exhibition of the same title held last year at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka.

Ukić focuses on the monumental architecture of the Waldinger gallery and exhibits a large and modular installation called Circle Dance (Dance of Death). Composed of about forty pairs of hands floating in space, the installation resists unequivocal interpretation. It looks at the handshake as an expression of togetherness and friendship, but since the hands are represented in the form of an amputated incomplete body, the work simultaneously evokes disturbing sensations of abhorrent. Prone to the aesthetics of the contradictory, Ukić evokes play and solidarity that we encounter in the form of circles in folk dances, leaving hints of shaken criteria of common interests and a crisis of reciprocity.

The connecting link of the Osijek exhibition is represented by the 3D animation with the significant title Make a Wish, which fills the space of the Waldinger gallery with water in an imaginary virtual reality, thus involving the viewer in the physical experience of the space in which the essential component becomes the sound. The careful calculation of the method of execution, as well as surrendering to unpredictable circumstances resulting from the interaction with industrial and synthetic materials, depart from the sculptural tradition oriented towards noble materials and complete figurative representations. Ukić devotes himself to the questions of what sculpture can be today and in what ways it is connected to social and production relations.


Nikola Ukić (Rijeka, 1974) started his artistic training in Rijeka at the former Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Visual Arts (1993-95). He continued at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb from 1995 to 1999, and the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, graduating under professor Georg Herold. He has been living in Düsseldorf for over 20 years.

Ukić’s work ranges from ephemeral installations and site-specific sculptures to digital prints, videos and performances. His art practice focuses on challenging sculptural strategies, re-examining traditional givens and modernist protocols. He focuses on interactions between authenticity and fiction, the essential and the marginal, and focuses on the issues of cultural translation. Ukić continuously subjects sculptural processes to different contaminations, either by including other media on the top layer of his sculptures, or by selecting a sculpting process in which he accentuates the process-oriented nature of sculpture, challenging the obviousness of the artistic gesture and the self-sufficiency of sculpture.

Nikola Ukić has taken part in many exhibitions and has won several scholarships and residencies. For a longer period he has taught at art schools and he is currently a research associate at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Siegen, Germany. He co-curated the NRW artists exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in 2014.


Exhibitions (selection): Schweben, Hengesbach Gallery, 2019, Form follows, PAEC Freiburg, 2015, Blow Up, Schloss Borbeck, Essen, 2015, Projective Cast, MCA Zagreb, 2013. Grants and awards: Neustart Kultur 2020, Kunstfond Foundation 2017, Young Talents Award NRW Art Foundation 2014, New Talents Art Cologne 2007, grant of the Art Academy and North Rhein-Westphalia State, Cité Paris 2002.


In collaboration with: Marko Mrvoš (3D modelling/animation), Philip Phoening (sound)

Curators: Ksenija Orelj, Sabina Salamon (MMSU, Rijeka)

Partner: Gradske galerije Osijek

Supported by: Grad Rijeka, Ministarstvo kulture i medija, PGŽ


Photo: Make a Wish, videostill, 3D animacija, 2.58 min 2024. (3D modelling: Marko Mrvoš, Philip Phoening (sound)