From the Painting of Nature to the Natural Painting

Đorđe Stanojević, the painter or rather the visual artist, creates unconventional paintings from soil. Using colors from soil he achieves the structure of soil on the surface of his works. His pigments are natural as is his gesso, rough canvases and wooden frames. Embracing such an approach to painting, his methodology is similar to the avant-garde new earth architecture, that has the best thermal characteristics. His painting depicts nature in small, a microcosms as an expression of a macrocosms. He allows nature to finish the painting, to complete the drawing and the painting in a circle of interaction with the artist. Exposing his works to rain, frost, snow, ice, the sun, the moon, wind and all kinds of atmospheric phenomena, he creates together with nature. The history of avant-garde art is familiar with this painterly procedure but not as a process for establishing an almost classically solved painting. At the end, it is nature that provides the colors, details, crystal or mineral form and the consistency of the painting, as well as the pouring and dripping. Instead of the inserted, intentional, artificial dripping of colors as in Jackson Pollock’s paintings and in the works of the representatives of the New York school of abstraction (school of abstract expressionism), the so called, dripping, that was preceded by the surrealist decalcomania , as a special visually vivid mode of transferring color dripping onto a painting, Stanojević allows nature to create such traces, he paints by nature and nature paints with him. Thus, nature creates nature by nature, or to put in another way, an absolute tautology of the painterly act takes place.

The works of this extraordinary master are both abstract paintings as well as landscapes, his most often painted motifs are images of woods, hills and valleys. Being at the same time abstract and mimetic, his paintings often enter the realm of fantastic imagery and the painting in his oeuvre can be defined as a fantastic landscape, the rarest form of fantastic painting. There is color and drawing in his paintings while the strict geometric form of the triangle of depicted gables or pyramids is broken by flowers. The previous black-white “cold” paintings are replaced by color rich and “warm” ones.

This artist’s painterly procedure is long, painting is a process, an interaction, a dialogue, a state where thoughts and feelings prevail, however, it is not a completely open experiment of a work in progress as the artist is well aware when the painting is finished, that being the key moment that makes him a painter. Feeling and experiencing nature is essential, painting becomes a continuation of natural states, processes, transformations and continuance, it even includes listening to bird’s song. Thus, the painting is nature itself since the artist also harmonizes with nature. An insight into the image depends on the debt of experiencing nature.

It is difficult to say whether this kind of art is traditional, modern, post-modern or beyond all divisions as it all of that and much more. The only important thing is that the image remains as a trace of nature and a natural process which is an extremely revolutionary, what more, a counter revolutionary act, a shamanic return to healing art in the era of artificial materials and insincere relations among people, the digital and robotic apocalypse of the present electronic sludge. First there is soil, then the sprout, the kernel, the gamete that starts to germinate and turns into the fruit, landscape, the Sun, the Moon, mountain, flower, confluence of a river, leaf, bark of a tree, water, sea, clouds and the sky. The painting literally comes alive. Each painting has its own sound, atmosphere, vibration and energy, each one has its own distinct identity and is authentic and unique. The painter listens to the song of the doves, paints exclusively outdoors, lives in small wooden houses, collects ethnographical old forgotten and thrown away objects, he cultivates the painting by nature. It becomes a cottage, a piece of weaving, round loaf of bread, a braid, a visual charge the artist created by a multifaceted approach and many years of work constantly returning to certain pieces.

As he does not paint with refined, artificially processed materials but uses natural ones and with the help of nature, its elements and forces, the art of Đorđe Stanojević is not only original, ethnological and ecological but also conceptual, tautological (nature by nature naturalizes nature). Although it seems abstract, fantastic and/or landscaped, it is unique in the history of art, most similar to the art made by the Aborigines, primitive communities and land art artists. This art emerges from the awareness that, as far as painting is concerned, with its excessively rich history, where hundreds of thousands of excellent painters painted, it has become almost impossible to produce something new and original. However, Stanojević has succeeded in doing so. Aesthetically speaking his painting belongs, at the same time, according to the older aestheticians to two opposed aesthetics – the natural, spontaneous, non intentional, unconscious and thus inferior (created by the plants, animals and all of nature) and the human, the one that only knows the noble, sublime, ideal and conceptual, perfect and divine. That old aesthetic principle can be contested even by the fact that apart from the sphere and the cube (that can also be found in nature) and the basic geometric, Euclidean forms, man is not capable of outdoing nature and creating something so perfect on the level of basic forms as is a pebble, an egg or a breast.

For Stanojević the painting is, as is for Maurice Denis, only a surface, a space or rather a field where the laws of physics and chemistry are active. When everything from the image is discarded, when it is conceptually bared to its essential manifestation and its very meaning is dissolved, these laws still remain positioning Stanojević’s works in the foreground. By giving nature the keynote, he discloses everything that the (neo) conceptual avant-garde discards. Instead of minimalism, purism and the reduction of expressive means down to the absurd, he discovers the dream, imagination, the night, mythology and the will, thus the residues of the unconscious return to the painting because, as we can see, they are implicitly present in nature. His works provide a unique opportunity to discover natural processes, that is, that human art belongs to a broader natural order, that as subtype it belongs to the aesthetics known to nature and its elements and that is a completely new revolutionary contribution of this painting. On the other hand, Stanojević’s visual contributions ideally supports the latest, most avant-garde ideas of art as an expression of matter and material. These new postulates were presented by the German art historian Monika Wagner in her book The Material of Art. Another History of Modernity (Das Material der Kunst. Eine andere Geschichte der Moderne). She managed, in a similar way as did Stanojević, to realize a completly new approach, a new view on the current state of art as well as the whole history of art in a field where so much has already been said, written and done, a field the leading experts, such as Hans Belting, predecit is coming to its end. It must be said, that as far as our country is concerned, the artists close to Stanojević’s stand on art are Božidar Plazinić and Božidar Mandić from the Family of Clear Streamswhile the precursor of such a worldview is the sculptor and theoretician Kosta Bogdanović. Thus, Stanojević is not alone in his discoveries. Plazinić with his pictures made of woven wicker and wax prints of gravestones done in the eighties of the twentieth century began an epochal return of art to nature in our country, an art that was different form folk art, however, it was Mandić who radicalized it. He exhibited a sculpture or rather an object that was essentially different – a large bowl full of forest mushrooms in Belgrade. He presented an art that was completely new, not created by human hands, one where color and form are important as is the powerful sensual dimension of scent in the gallery – it being the rarest form of an aesthetic experience in art. Đorđe Stanojević’s fellow artists help us achieve a better insight into the rebellious new ideas in Serbian art that represent nothing else but a return to the traditional, that is, a return to the future , when we thought that it did not exist any more.

Dejan Djoric, 2018