A third temporary exhibition for the summer has just opened at the National Museum. Between the fourth and the late eighteenth century, stone, metal, paint and print were used to figure depictions of the cross. This exhibition examines these various uses. It starts with a fourth-century sarcophagus and ends with an early nineteenth-century print, along the way mixing together precious national objects with painted and printed reproductions and super-large photographs. Of especial note are the superb icons as well as several nationally important processional crosses. These include the Nikanor Cross used to lead the Serbs once again out of Kosovo in the sixteenth century and a 1799 exquisitely carved wooden cross from the Cokešina monastery, which was carried by Hadži Ruvin in the 1804 uprising against the Turks. Curated by Nataša Cerović. Until 31st August 2014. See http://www.narodnimuzej.rs
Icon of Christ Archpriest, early 17thc
Archiepist’s Throne, 1579, Reljina Gadina, Novi Pazar
Votive Cross, 1799, Cokešina Monastery
This exhibition brings back from obscurity the work of four Serbian impressionist painters, whose destinies were entangled by war. It shows eighty-eight paintings by three men, Milan Milanović (1876-1946), Mališa Glišić (1886-1916) Košta Miličević (1877-1920), and one woman, Nadežda Petrović (1873-1915), who started their training in Belgrade, moved to art school in Munich and then continued to absorb modernist tendencies in Paris, Rome, Prague or Vienna. But only one survived. Three died from the complications of typhoid fever; Milanović was left so deaf and nerve wracked that he gave up painting for teaching, becoming a professor at the Art School in Belgrade.
The majority of works in the exhibition date to the war years, which in this region started in 1907. They painted the places where they found themselves now, far from the cosmopolitan urban centres as an artist-nurse, or as an artist-soldier. Barbizon, impressionist or fauve techniques were redirected to depict local subjects: orthodox monasteries, stretches of the Danube or the arid sun-drenched landscapes of Macedonia, Dalmatia, Corfu or Greece. Furthermore, according to the curator Ljubica Miljković, the transposition of the most newly minted of these painterly techniques – explosive colour, used straight from the tube in thick impastos to produce powerful effects of light, water, movement or reflection, now assumed an overt political dimension, as the pictorial manifestation of an ‘ideal of freedom’. Until 10th September 2014. See www.narodnimuzej.rs
Nadežda Petrovic, Barges at the Sava, 1907
Mališa Glisić, Italian Landscape – Terracina, 1912
Košta Miličević, Danube Harbour, 1908
Tourists are arriving at the National Museum and finding a series of temporary exhibitions showcasing items from the museums’s rich holdings, currently estimated to include 400,000 objects. As the museum is closed, and has been since 2002, this is a rare opportunity indeed. Fourteen long years with the lights out and the walls empty, waiting for the promised and much needed renovation. Another problem, one also directly related to the absence of money, is the high cost of insuring the collection if it were placed on public display. Periodically, though, the museum opens its doors and emerges from this politically induced slumber. ‘Rubens Circles’ is the smallest and most focussed of this current batch of summer exhibitions. Essentially, it consists of four paintings all produced in Antwerp c1616 by artists directly or loosely related to Rubens. They include a Jan Brueghel flower painting, a Cornelis de Vos portrait, a copied Van Dyck self-portrait and most stunning and strangely alluring of all, a huge Diana Retuning from the Hunt (c1615-17 ) by Rubens himself. Six figures, statuesque, strapping arms, torsos à la Michelangelo but compressed into the 2 metre space and never completely seen in the round. They meet with their trophies: on the Diana side, carrying dead game, on the Bacchus side with the fruits of the vine. The painting was a collaboration between Rubens, his studio assistants and an associate, Frans Snijders, a successful still-life and animal painter who was based in Antwerp and was often called upon to add in the stunningly accurate animal or vegetable detail. The painting has been the subject of recent investigation by the conservation department with x-ray and infra-red spectrometry provided by the Vinca Institute for Nuclear Science. Curated by Jelena Dergenc, until 1st August 2014. See www.narodnimuzej.rs
Entrance, National Museum of Serbia
Unknown Artist, Portrait of Van Dyck, after 1641
Jan Brueghel, Flowers, 1616
Cornelis de Vos, Portrait of a Girl, 1620
Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snijders, Diana Returning from the Hunt, c1615-17
This was the first ever public exhibition by PhD students in the print-making department of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Belgrade. The three exhibitions highlight the sophistication with which old and new print methods are being used (and often combined) while the prints themselves demonstrate how the process of print-making is always integral to the conceptualisation of the subject. Shown here, from the top down: Bojan Otasevic reworking themes relating to Durer’s Melancolia in explosive pictorial colour; Danja Tekic’s lithographies (one of six) achieving a subtle interplay of abstract form and tonal hue; Jelena Sredanovic’s monumental wood-cut, minutely worked of celestial heights and Milena Maksimovic using thin rice paper to aquatint human-animal dualities and opposites. The display is huge and was organised across several venues in Belgrade (Galerija Grafički, Galerija Fakulteta Likovnih Umetnosti, Galerija Akademia). Parts of the show are travelling onto Bosnia and can be seen at the Gallery Prijedor in Prijedor, Republika Srpska from mid July to mid August 2014.
A small exhibition by an austrian artist who came to Serbia in October 2012 as artist in residence at Treći Beograd, or Third Belgrade. This ‘artistic collective’ (founded in 2010 by Selman Trtovać) is centered around the Gallery Perpetuummobile, a purpose-built but currently unfinished club/library/gallery and residence of rising brick and glass directly opposite the Danube and close to the Pančevo Bridge. As visionaries of a ‘micro-utopia’, artists of Third Belgrade cluster and network trans-nationally and trans-culturally, using art and fellowship to resist what they call the ‘post-modern fragmentation’ of society.
Kiesling’s new work is directly inspired by the city and most of the exhibition is devoted to a project called ‘Missing Hero’, a witty sequence of 16 colour photos where men and women have been invited to pose as heroes in front of the empty sculptural niche on the Kosančićev Venac. Drawings in pen, ink and watercolour develop the project further and with humour. These include her quest for the missing bust, her search for a visual trace of the (any, all) female serbian hero – the postage stamp – and magnificent drawings of heavy, coiled ropes. These are bell pulls from monasteries in Fruska Gora, whose vigorous ongoing restoration will be the focus of her next project. For Ursula Kiesling see www.iefs.at for Treći Beograd and the Gallery Perpetuummobile, Pančvraki pub BB, 11210, Belgrade see trecibeograd.com