Jure Kastelic at Mare Karina

All desire is a desire for being

Jure Kastelic

17 April - 30 June 2024

The exhibition ‘All desire is a desire for being’ by artist Jure Kastelic, is a profound exploration into the existential dialectics of contemporary life, examining the complex interplay of opposing forces and ideas that shape our existence, desires, and material manifestations of value. Through a series of paintings, Kastelic presents us with an
incisive critique of capitalist realism by reflecting the ongoing struggle to find balance and meaning in a world where it is easier to imagine the end of existence than it is the end of capitalism’s grip on societal values and aspirations.

The global economy based on infinite debt and liquidity, a fungible reality marked by perpetual instability, has over the past decades experienced a recurrent turbulence, entrapped in a constant state of crisis, financial crashes, widening social inequality, and cycles of inflation, greedflation, skyflation. Kastelic’s central critique lies in the exploration of what defines and retains value in time of dilution, particularly focusing on how centralised currencies shape our understanding of money. He questions the intrinsic worth of money and the mechanisms that determine, fluctuate, or diminish its value over time, highlighting the precarious nature of financialised economies, which underpins the social and political struggles of late capitalist societies.

Separated into parts, the exhibition presents three interconnected series of paintings, each approaching the subject matter from a unique perspective. Nick Szabo suggests in his investigations into the origins of money, that collecting instinct in humans, driven by psychological and social factors, contributes to valuing certain objects. Historically, value was tangible by being locked into the materiality of objects, like precious metals, often chosen for their unforgeable costliness and limited supply. In the Gold Bricks series, Kastelic directly interrogates what constitutes value through paintings, alluding to the symbolism of transitioning away from the gold standard in monetary systems.

Mark Fisher defines capitalist realism as a world in which the inhumane abstract logic of market dynamics infiltrates every facet of life, dictating not only economic transactions but also social interactions, cultural productions, and individual aspirations. It creates a scenario where all dimensions of human life are commodified, viewed through the prism of economic utility, capital extraction, and profit exploitation. In the Mirror Rooms paintings, Kastelic portrays skeletons surrounded with mirrors and furniture resembling luxury spaces, confronting us with the unsettling reality of our own desires being captured by consumerism. Fisher’s most Gothic description of Capital as an “abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labor is ours, and the zombies it makes are us”, emphasises that the efficacy of capitalist realism is contingent upon our engagement with it. Mirror Rooms thus portray a dead end of our relentless pursuit of material gain at the expense of meaningful existence – a memento mori – entrapped by solipsism in a doom loop of materialist desires, where legacy becomes impossible, and the future is unattainable.

In his third series with female figures, Kastelic turns to mythology as a vehicle for storytelling. Through idealised figures, the paintings weave together narratives of techno-utopianism found in Bitcoin internet culture, which claims to offer solutions to social struggles by fixing its money, and the tales of Greek mythology. Particularly, the myth of the Minotaur, where the inescapable labyrinth built to keep the beast intact servers as a metaphor for socio-economic maze of capitalist realism, and in which the constant need to fulfil the insatiable appetite of the Minotaur renders it impossible to imagine an alternative to the system in place. Only with the help of Ariadne’s thread, Theseus is finally able to kill the Minotaur and subsequently escape the labyrinth.

‘All desire is a desire for being’ comes from the title of a book by René Girard, who articulates a concept of mimetic desires based on the idea that our desires are not entirely our own but are instead mirrored by those around us. Kastelic’s pursuit of finding value through meaning is manifested in his paintings as a wake-up call, asking us to disengage from the alluring yet deceptive grip of capitalist realism. It calls for a profound collective reflection on our values, desires, and the fundamental aspects that make life worth living. As articulated through the myth of Ariadne and Theseus, it is only through unified efforts that one can navigate through and ultimately dismantle the exploitative cycles that bind us. The central question, therefore, remains: what are we going to do about a world in which it seems that there is no future?

Text by Tadej Vindiš
(Lecturer in Creative Technologies at the University of Westminster, London)

Jure Kastelic, Butterfly, 2023, Acrylic on jute, 40 x 50 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Butterfly, 2023, Acrylic on jute, 40 x 50 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Tough pill to swallow, 2024, Acrylic on jute, 90 x 70 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Tough pill to swallow, 2024, Acrylic on jute, 90 x 70 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Armour, 2024, Acrylic on jute, 50 x 120 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina
Jure Kastelic, Armour, 2024, Acrylic on jute, 50 x 120 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina
Jure Kastelic, Money on my mind, 2023, Acrylic on jute, 40 x 50 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Money on my mind, 2023, Acrylic on jute, 40 x 50 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Fortune teller, 2023, Acrylic on jute, 70 x 90 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Jure Kastelic, Fortune teller, 2023, Acrylic on jute, 70 x 90 cm. Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Exhibition view, Jure Kastelic: All desire is a desire for being, Mare Karina, Venice (17 April – 30 June 2024). Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Exhibition view, Jure Kastelic: All desire is a desire for being, Mare Karina, Venice (17 April – 30 June 2024). Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Exhibition view, Jure Kastelic: All desire is a desire for being, Mare Karina, Venice (17 April – 30 June 2024). Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.
Exhibition view, Jure Kastelic: All desire is a desire for being, Mare Karina, Venice (17 April – 30 June 2024). Photo by Studio Rio. Courtesy of Mare Karina.