Painting with Nature

Đorđe Stanojević’s art exploits those potentials of the humanistic and utopian heritage of Moderne Art which attempt to reconcile in different ways the antagonisms created in the relationship between nature and culture. Syntagmas painting like nature or painting with nature assume a confrontation with the core of these forces and their intersections in an attempt to establish a new delicate order of balance.

Based on the artist’s initial experience with Nature, it seems that this artwork, in its beginning, reflected a kind of instinctive and tempestuous youthful rejection of the omnipresent corruption of the advertizing industry and culture of consumerism the artist directly works for. Initially, it is possible to understand these processes of reconciliation with nature as a kind of reaction to the “other side” of culture and its protocols as well as a form of escapism from that kind of (non-)culture that “petrifies” the vital processes of a community. However, in time, only when the artist appropriated the experience of direct cohabitation with nature was he able to achieve a more authentic connection with an alternative culture of work, tentatively uncorrupted and an open structure of artwork. The artist only gradually developed his major idea around the “energy of artwork” – in this specific case an art object that is constructed around the rudimentary material of earth and the procedures related to the creative practice and ergonomics of the land.

At first glance, and according to the artist’s own interpretation, the impact of Joseph Beuys, the apologist of the healing power of matter and the founder of the idea of Social Sculpture in art, on his work is understandable. However, because Stanojević’s art never reaches the threshold of socially or politically engaged art, it may seem that post WW2 avant-garde movements such as the Italian arte povere influenced his art to a grater extent, especially the work of Giuseppe Penone – who actively reflected in the past decades on the dialectics between nature and culture and insisted on the work-in-progress concept doing so in the context of evocating the primordial power of the telluric or the magical in art.

Conceptually this art is organized around a few basic procedures which can, for this occasion, be named as “painting with earth”. By approaching actions of creative practice of a given circumstances and the time of earth – the phenomena of active time spent working with earth and the earth meditation that inspired so many philosophies, in this particular case – the work of the artist in the studio corresponds to the daily activity of a worker or peasant cultivating the soil. The gradual abolition of the vertical plane on the painting positioned on an easel on account of the horizontal one and integrating the earth’s material, its rudimentary elements like: the soil, mud, excrement, chaff or iodine – creates a concept of an artwork series of newly created paintings-objects functioning as cartographic diagrams of earth and its history or a geology of the pictorial matter that subtly thematizes each individual existentialist experience. By interposing manufactured tools in his ground arrangements as objets trouvés the artist poetizes the connection with the vanished pre-industrial cultures recreating the life of a community organized around harmonized ergonomic structures in an almost palpable way.

A parallel evocation of the energy of vital processes such as: fertilization, growth, harmony, erosion or fossilization – thematizes subtly in Stanojević’s works the apologetics of the telluric together with the idea of human existence. Although the anonymous living matter of earth shares this fate of the time of earth and resistance of matter, traces of lost cultures and their activity – it however has its place in the artist’s work as a vital counterpoint to the cultural vestiges. In his attempt to overcome the dichotomy between culture and nature, manufactured production and biological growth, Stanojević creates a kind of utopian projection of a world in which man’s trace in nature would accept the formal organization of living matter. Or maybe it is the other way round: this utopia would evoke earth’s living matter, always in a process of renewal, through the most unusual biological and geological formations of initial growth – ascending, uncontrolled upward growth, rotation, spiral or crystal formations, fossilization – gestures that seem to be obeying the implicit rules of an inner order recreating the measure of existentialist opposition or instinctively following instructions of transcendental geometry.

The artist establishes, by a creative revival of working with earth, a meta-language that reveals hidden procedures of activity in nature and constantly connects them with the processes of his own growth or the growth of the anticipated social utopia. Stanojević insists more on the creative process than on the object itself thus creating not just one being but one becoming. Our notion of the world and space is sensitized by contact, creative activity, imbuement of elements of the initial order of nature and man’s intervention, organic rapid growth and the controlled activity of the hands that passes through all strata of the earth and its history, through traces of resistance to matter and its civilization heritage. Space itself, always redefined by a new exhibition, is brought to life in the context of the artwork’s open structure – an imaginary archeological site of magically entwined human gestures within this sensitive balance of coexistence between nature and culture.