The Great Seal Award is the most prestigious prize for print-making in Serbia and it has just been won by Vladimir Milanović for the digital print School, a detail of which features on the headline to this blog. The award is organized by the Gallery Grafički Kolektiv in Belgrade which was founded in 1949 as a specialised centre for art in print in Yugoslavia. It’s still going strong; they organise exhibitions of national and international importance, every year conferring the Great Seal as a form of National Recognition in the field of Print Art. There were 100 contenders for this year’s prize, artists, students and professors. The work is on show until the 7th June at the Gallery, http://www.grafickikolektiv.org. Milanović (born Belgrade, 1979) lives, works and teaches in the city. All prints are for sale at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cyrillic letters have been transposed into musical instruments, some of them pure whimsical inventions. The ‘text’ is painted in encaustic (a mixture of wax and pigment that dries quickly like fresco) and often onto large canvases. The work is then displayed on white walls but with no label, no title, no date. In their textured stone like-form they look like architectural fragments, although at the same time like printed sheets of pictogram writing. Both solid yet light, permanent yet written. Tradition, reinvention. Seen from a distance, this intricate imaginative work resembles one of the Far East languages we may know. The brief exhibition was organised by the Association of Serbian Artists and Sculptors. They own the gallery and organise exhibitions for their members. Knez Mihaijlova, 37, 11000 Belgrade, http://www.ulus-art.org
An important and absolutely stunning retrospective to mark the 90th birthday of the internationally acclaimed Slovenian artist Jože Ciuha. The selection starts with shimmering plexiglass paintings, continues with the satirical works, where hyper-realist human or animal faces look out from colour-field paintings. Then come the textured and painterly canvases that teeter back and forth between abstraction and representation. The final part is devoted to the fresco-style mosaics on mythical and religious themes. This is also a journey through 50 years of different national histories and with an artist who was born in 1924, trained in Ljubljana, joined the Yugoslav partisans, travelled extensively in the Far East, then in South America; who taught in Italy, Germany and the US, who has received many different awards and who has participated in 300 group shows and 400 solo ones. He now divides his time between Paris and Ljubljana. At the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts & Gallery RIMA, Knez Mihailova, 35, 11000, Belgrade. Mon-Fri 10-10pm. Thursdays 11-4pm
A small kooky gallery but worth a visit to see a collection of oil paintings, mostly on rural themes, celebrating native traditions but eschewing established techniques. The factory interior shown here is the exception to the rule. You need to think peasants, carts, farms and fields, full on colour and flat perspective. Naive art was pushed forward as an important national indigenous tradition from the late 1940s. A short walk from the museum is the atelier of a violin maker Jan Nemček – who exports his instruments to the whole wide world.
An exhibition of welded metal sculpture by the Croatian artist Vlim Halbarth (b. 1970) who lives in Trogir and produces the work in the shipyard. The sculpture speaks symbolically of well-established ship-building traditions. Metal fragments and discarded pipes are shaped into bows or sterns, or other ship-like shapes. They speak directly and deliberately of an industry now in decline. Lost cultures surface too in the ‘Wall Compositions’ where the metal is used to symbolise old Slavonic writing. This is art as work and as cultural memory. Curated by Jelena Krivokapić and on now at the Gallery Beograd, Kosančićev venac 19, Belgrade www.galerijabeograd.org