Departure to the Picture

With the appearance of concept art in the 1970s and new media a little later, the picture, traditionally defined as a visual representation on a two-dimensional surface, lost the privileged position it had been acquiring for centuries. The picture is, however, “knocking on our door” again, as one might describe a kind of revival of this medium. This trend, made official back in 2003, when Italian critic and curator Francesco Bonami at the Venice Biennial put together a sort of retrospective of modern painting, increasingly makes the medium the focus of our exploration and attention. Despite the omnipresent digitalization and technologies that bring something new every day, the picture, as it turned out, has remained a cornerstone of the art system.

In his latest series of works titled “Inscription,” Djordje Stanojevic continues to explore the expressive possibilities of a picture as visual representation. Be it oil on canvas or a photograph, the starting point and principles are the same. For Djordje Stanojevic, the picture is mental space. It is not physically given, an object of examination or a simple product. It is a spiritual world into which the artist goes, as he puts it himself: “… sometimes I have nowhere else to go but into a picture.” Still, that does not mean escapism – refusal to accept reality and all it brings. Stanojevic is aware of its varieties, the processes that shape the “real” world and all those events that affect everyday life. His departure into a picture is a conscious and responsible decision. The field of his activity is painting that delves into its own ontological purpose, the vitally bitter and precise essence. Through color, line and other, specifically visual i.e. painting acts, the artist wants to give this medium back its functionality, to achieve its long lost “honesty,” that modernist quality blamed for the lulled bourgeois l’art pour l’artism.

Stanojevic’s art is, however, far from “pure” elitist formalism – to him it is an object, practice, a workday; it is a dream, a desire, a thought. But, above all, his art is deeply humane, just as Stanojevic, as an artist, deals with humanity, spirituality. His subject is man, but not as any particular individual, but as a being, as a universal category. Inspired by the dichotomy of man’s earthly existence, Stanojevic’s picture represents the symbolic man contained in a sort of agon between fate and control – i.e. the struggle to control his own life. This “representation” is structured symbolically: in lines – like the lines of “fate,” i.e. the lines we all have on the palms of our hands and the lines on an old face. They are an inscription, a given, we cannot affect them or change them. In his pictures, Stanojevic “writes” these inscriptions, consciously striving to reproduce them as individualized geographies, drawn as both a predestination and a consequence, or as he says himself: “… the geography of life, the very being. Happiness, pain, mistakes, wandering…”

Inspired by the eternal Tarkovsky, Stanojevic has strongly articulated the tendency he was close to in his earlier works. It is the idea of painting of the sum of “ordinary” human experiences and one, deep aspect of the human – faith. Faith and spirituality, embodied in the reflection, in the relation between earth and sky, in the look upward, in trust, hope, in seeking sense in nonsense, logic in coincidence, learning in what cannot be learned. Using the simple, traditional, vocabulary of painting, Stanojevic’s painting is primarily a document of visual signs, it is open and bravely reduced to its essence – to the code, which, once revealed, becomes close to everyone.

Sasa Janjic