A fairy tale about a universe within festive Ljubljana

Ljubljana has for many years been renowned for the unusual beauty of its Christmas lighting display. The display, based around the theme of the universe, is being developed and taken to new levels year after year, reflecting a fascinating story about artistic inspiration.

The imaginative Christmas display is a work by the Ljubljana-based artist Zmago Modic, who creates his paintings and installations in his studio in the heart of the historical city centre and has been running his own school of painting since 1978.

Christmas lighting display as a form of art

Following his highly acclaimed 1999 exhibition Images of Primeval Memory, Zmago Modic decided to bring his artistic vision of the universe as a cradle of life into a form that would correspond to the sheer hugeness of the theme and find expression in the streets, where everyone could see it.

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Urban legend has it that Modic based his first light objects on images of the universe taken by NASA and then elegantly incorporated them in the concept of the city's Christmas lighting display developed by the architect Karin Košak.

From macrocosm to microcosm

Since those early beginnings, the light objects included in Ljubljana's Christmas lighting display have been developed in new directions year after year based not only on images of the infinite expanses of the universe, galaxies, planets, moons, and comets, but also on images of microcosms invisible to the naked eye, such as those of atoms, chromosomes, DNA helices, sperms, etc.

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The themes dealt with in Modic's Christmas display so far include Cosmic Ljubljana, The Path of Life, Cosmic Spruce Tree, Bearers of Light, A Celebration of Existence, Space Toys, The Intermediate Time Span of Humanity, Respect for Life and Intersections of Time. This year's theme, convergence, symbolizes the eternal desire for existence and convergence and was inspired by the famous touch depicted in Michelangelo's fresco Creation of Adam.

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