Tomi Lombar - Exhibition marking the donation of his photographic opus
From the birth of independent Slovenia to the verge of its thirtieth anniversary
8. February – June 2021
Tomi Lombar from Ljubljana, then not yet 17, skipped classes at the Secondary School of Design and Photography on March 17, 1988, in order to photograph the visit to Ljubljana of the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. This was a time when, as a high school student, he was already publishing photos for the popular youth magazine Antena. Three months later, on June 21, 1988, he photographed the crowd that flooded Kongresni trg in Ljubljana in support of the JBTZ quartet, demanding human rights. The key historical period of the Slovene nation was on the horizon: the path to democracy and an independent state, and in parallel, Tomi Lombar's path into the world of photo-reporting. After an internship at Antena, in the spring of 1991, at the age of twenty, he began taking part-time photographs for Dnevnik newspaper, under the guidance of photo editor Nace Bizilj. He was the youngest photojournalist on the team, but he set to work with determination and courage. After photographing the joy of independence, a day later, on June 27, 1991, he took a series of extremely important, but also life-threatening photographs of the advance of armoured units of the Yugoslav People's Army towards Brnik airport. In the spring of 1993, he started photographing for the new newspaper Republika, in the spring of 1994 for Delo Revije, and in the autumn of 1995 he moved to the newspaper company Delo for his longest professional period, under the auspices of the photo editor Joco Žnidaršič. For Delo and its editions, he daily addressed readers with photographs until January 2020, at home and around the world.
The opus is presented for the first time in the form of an exhibition, in gratitude for the donation. The exhibition is designed in four parts. Photographs of the post-independence victorious joy of youth are followed by the first and second groups of photographs, which show Tomi Lombar as a war photojournalist. His photographs from the wars on the soil of disintegrating Yugoslavia are symbolically captured here at the beginning and end - at the beginning in Slovenia in 1991 and at the end in Kosovo in 1999. In the third group are photos in stark contrast to war – pictures of selected Slovene athletes who achieved Olympic fame at summer Olympics. Tomi Lombar accompanied the Olympians to the Olympic Games in Atlanta (USA), Salt Lake City (USA), Sydney, Athens and Turin. In the fourth group are selected photos of world-famous personalities who visited the independent Slovenia.
The donation of more than 200,000 analogue and digital photographs by Tomi Lombar is the first major collection of photographs for the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia from all three decades of independent Slovenia. The extensive content and aesthetics of Tomi Lombar's photo-reportage is a photographic opus of national value.
The National Museum of Contemporary History would like to thank Tomi Lombar sincerely for his generous decision to make this donation.