This four-day festival of ceramic art – which has now been around for more than 30 years – takes place every year in the picturesque town St Quentin-La-Poterie in the Gard region of France. Pottery has long roots here: it reaches back to at least Roman times but today still many artists make St Quentin their home, living and working in the old stone houses of its medieval centre and selling directly to the public from their studios. Looking, buying and talking about ceramics has long been one of the unique pleasures of this very special place. ‘Terralha’ is the name of St Quentin’s Ceramic Arts Administrative centre. The purpose-built premises include a museum, focussed on the historical dimensions of this type of art and an exhibition space, dedicated to changing displays from all over the world. It is this interface between the precisely local and the broader international that makes the St Quentin festival so distinctive.
To be selected as an ‘exhibitor’ for the annual Festival is an achievement: the field is highly competitive: every year only 40 artists are selected by a jury and on the strength of a ‘dossier’. Twenty exhibit their art in the dedicated Terralha space; 20 more are given spaces and niches in the town ad these imaginative locations are chosen to highlight the unique aspects of their work.
And so it came to pass that Jovana Cavorovic from the Blatobran Studio in Belgrade became the first ever Serbian artist to be invited to the Terralha Festival. Her enormous, illuminated organic constructions were transported across difficult borders and re-erected in the special settings of St Quentin where amateurs and professionals, buyers and sellers, locals and tourists – no less than 4,600 festival visitors for the four-day festival – could see and experience their dimensions and beauties for the first time.
Jovana Cavorovic’s ceramic installation at the Terralha Festival, St Quentin La Poterie, France, 2015
Jovana Cavorovic’s ceramic installation at the Terralha Festival, St Quentin La Poterie, France, 2015
Jovana (far left) along with her fellow artists, including this year’s prize winners: Zélie Rouby, Ismaël Carré and Nathalie Jover and Qihui Huang.
It is exactly these sorts of creative connections that have been the principal animus of my blog: writing about as well as actively creating networks between artists in the Balkans with those living and working beyond. In August I left Serbia for Tel Aviv and thus I travel towards new artistic horizons….But there is one more post about Belgrade that I need to make before I close. Once again it will commemorate some recent cultural networking, this time using print as the artistic connector between Serbian art and British punk.
Jovana Čavorović was born in Gornji Milanovac, Serbia 1985 and has been working in the field of ceramic art for the last five years. She graduated in 2010 from the department of ceramics at the University of Applied Arts in Belgrade. She has been exhibiting since 2007 and has participated in many solo & group exhibitions, symposiums and art related projects. These enormous illuminated sculptural projects have been selected for exhibition in France at the Terralha Festival, a European festival of ceramic art held every year at St Quentin la Poterie, Gard, for more information see http://www.terralha.fr/
Bojana Ristevski was born in 1985 in Belgrade. She graduated from the ceramics department at the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design in Belgrade in 2009. Since then she has participated in many exhibitions and projects both in Serbia and abroad. “The point of departure in my work is drawing. I try to transpose my drawings into ceramics. So you could say that drawing and form are my means of expression. I use a white surface for it to be clear and clean for the drawing. I like to build a form and play with it, searching for the right proportions and decoration, and getting the form back into its right position. I try to be personal in my work but the themes are changing, though the central inspirations remain: people, animals, food and my relationship towards them.
Ana Jakić Jevtović
Graduated from the ceramics department at the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design in Belgrade in 2003. She acquired the status of an independent artist in 2003 and has been teaching in the ‘Tehnoart’ professional school in the department of pottery. ‘My work is primarily oriented in two directions. First is the design of home-ware, based mostly on minimalist basic geometry – circles, cylinders, cubes etc., that have a multi-purpose character. This means that a cylinder may represent a vase, a candle-holder or a pot in one collection of items, all depending on the proportional relations of their simple geometry. I prefer earthy, natural colouring and an accent on subtle textures, comprised of text or other abstract shapes. Apart from home-ware, I’m involved in making porcelain jewelery and accessories in combination with other materials such as rubber, wood, silver and other metals.
The other aspect of my work is panel ceramic paintings. I experiment with various techniques and colouring on two-dimensional and mildly three-dimensional surfaces, raku and porcelain being the most common. I like the unpredictability of raku in combination with porcelain’s clarity and it’s susceptibility for rich textures.
for more information on these artists contact http://blatobran.com/
A fascinating exhibition of thirty-two drawings by an artist who completed his post-graduate studies in 2010 (Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Belgrade) and who has already won several awards and sent his work to exhibitions abroad (Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland and Japan). He uses lead pencil or black charcoal on white paper and his technique gives the drawings a monumental, sculptural quality that make them stick in your mind. Many are of children shown in ordinary ways – sitting, eating, reading or playing but there are also submarines at sea or drawings of nothing but the sea. The subjects are oddly varied; some relate to cinema (Bergman, Tarkovsky) while the blur looks to Richter. About 80% of the drawings have already been sold. The exhibition continues until February 16th 2015. At the Haos Gallery, Dositejeva 3, Belgrade http://www.gallerychaos.com/
Boy with a Toy I, charcoal on paper, 50 x 35cm
Void, graphite on paper, 140 x 100cm
Stairs, graphite on paper, 100 x 140cm
Still on view this weekend in Belgrade is a poignant video installation by one of the most respected performance artists in the region, Dragana Zarevac. Born in Belgrade in 1959, a graduate from the university here, exiled to Paris during the civil war, where she has been a member of the Maison des Artistes since 1992, Zarevac has been the subject of many exhibitions and the recipient of numerous awards. In her own words, she uses performance and video to explore ‘how political and social life affect sexuality’. Early projects like Perfect Marriage (2001) showed the artist standing, wailing while her husband vacuumed an apartment. Ephemeral Memorial (2008) dealt with the body in concentration camps and she was the author of one of the best videos (at least in my opinion!) at the October Salon called Resist: Disappearing Happiness – 12 simultaneous video clips of people dancing or listening to Pharell Williams’ song, Happy. In a totally different register, this installation explores a personal response to her degenerative motor neurone disease. Organised into three parts, it consists of a 3.20 min video (Tango Valido) showing Zarevac in a vivid red dress dancing the tango with her female instructor (‘the dance that combines a passion for life with a feeling of dismay’) to the haunting tango music, and this version recorded in 1944. On the right, are 3 glass shelves with the 270 empty bottles of the drug Mestinon, that slows down the advance of the disease. Behind, is a second video called Peace (2 minutes) where we watch a tear trickle down the side of her face, seen in profile, death-like in its silence. This installation was created for the Sales Gallery and was curated by Jelena Krivokapić. Showing until 22 December at Kosančićev venac 19, Belgrade. For more information see www.galerijabeograd.org
A striking exhibition exploring Tito’s permanent and obsessive fascination with film is currently on in Belgrade, night-times only and in conjunction with a film festival where you can re-visit some of his famous movies. All of this has been organised in the fitting location of what is now the Museum of Yugoslav history, built as one part of a vast complex for memorialising Tito himself who lies buried on site. The exhibition is simple in conception (film, photos, and Tito related paraphernalia) but very effective in execution. You can see the notebooks that were used to record the daily cinema showings (often several a day) indicating the date and time shown, title of film, origin, language and presidential reaction. Good use is made of the blown-up photographs of Tito at festivals, or cinema parties alongside Hollywood film stars and European Royals. And then there are the films themselves: those that were publically viewed or privately screened, the favourites (American westerns and Hitchcocks) or the films that furnished him with a sense of history, and that were watched on the way to meeting a foreign dignitary (for example, ‘The Battle of Britain’ in preparation for a meeting with Churchill in London in the early fifties). The exhibition leads us through these different cinematographic journeys. Quotations printed on the walls on the uses and meaning of film provide the necessary, ironic subtext for a President who may have banned the distribution of capitalist cinema culture, and who claimed to only watch films of Lenin, but who sat down nevertheless to enjoy Hair. Curated and designed by Dragana Marković, Marija Djorgović, Momo Cvijovic and Mane Radmanovic. Until 18th December 2014, Every evening, 6 Botićeva, Belgrade.
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
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.
The annual opening of the Macura Museum has just happened with a new display of works. Situated 10 kilometres from Belgrade, with a dazzling look-down view at the Danube this is the must see of the serbian arts scene. ‘Galleriste’ Vladimir Macura commissioned the building about 10 years ago to house his art collection and serve as a temporary home when he returns to Serbia from Austria. SInce then, he has added a Malevich-type chapel with a scarlet ceiling that opens to the sky, and accommodation for an artist in residence. This was the first private museum to be built in Serbia since the 1960s. The collection, for someone who has long-time interest in surrealism is – as you can imagine – a medley of painting, prints, sculpture and things, important things (the Zenit printed paraphernalia apparently) or odd things, and from everywhere. The furniture too is used in interesting ways. There are no labels, but hand-written pencil descriptions are occasionally scrawled on the walls, if identification is what you are interested in. You walk into the museum through the kitchen or past a bedroom, or leave to linger on an outdoors terrace and enjoy the view. Public crosses private and this ordered informality is a large part of the charm. Last Friday for the opening, guests were greeted with wine and platters of cheese with apples laid out on leaves taken from the nearby orchards. A live performance involved the singing of some existentially anxed up French, set to music and presented as dance. The doors of the museum opened and the crowd sailed in to view the new selection along with dogs, kids, the young, the old, friends and strangers. People run about, stop, chat, climb, touch and rearrange. An artist was not happy with his painting (a large square abstraction of beautiful colour) because it seemed to slide down to the right. So he sorted it out: got a chair and propped it up on one side, stood back and thought – yes maybe that’s better.
Musej Macura, Zenit 1, Novi Banovci, Saturday to Sunday from 1st May to 1st October 2014. 20 minutes by car from Belgrade.