This is the last post on the arts scene in Belgrade and I want to use it to focus attention on the creative print-making of Leka (aka Alexsandar Mladenovic). His latest exhibition was inspired by the music of the British punk rock singer Vic Godard. The project evolved collaboratively, between Vic in England and Leka in Belgrade. The geography was bridged by the lyrics. Vic sent them to Leka: the original sheets, hand-written, and from 5, 10 or 20 years before. These words and the music to which they belonged inspired in turn a series of prints: Leka’s equivalents to Vic’s songs. This cross-cultural collaboration even extended to the catalogue, where one entry was written by me and the other by a Serb and historian of rock music. A double Anglo-Serbian, transcultural project. The exhibition was open at the Ozone Gallery in Belgrade from 10-20th July, and to rave reviews. You can read the catalogue text here: VicLeka text in pdf and you can find a very extensive account of the project here, on Vic Godard’s website in two parts: part 1 and part 2
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.
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/
“My works often come to life in different styles, shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are large and colourful and resemble imaginary sea creatures or geological formations; sometimes they are complicated structures made of many different objects, with different surfaces and shapes that interact with one another. But for me they are always about the same thing: capturing and freezing a moment in time, with its special atmosphere and emotions that are hard to describe in words. In that sense, my objects are a quest for the true essence of feeling and movement. By modelling magic materials – clay and porcelain – that can change in structure, size and colour through different technological processes – is how I try and capture the true essence of life.” (Text from the artist, my thanks to Jovana Čavorocić)
Aleksandar Vac was born in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia in 1973. He graduated from the Department of Ceramics at the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, where he now lives and works. Vac has participated in many national and international exhibitions and has been the recipient of many awards. His work combines the ancient technique of terra sigillata with a modern approach to form.
Nemanja Nikolić Prika
‘I’m an artist who lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia. I graduated from the Ceramics Department at the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade in 2004. My art is expressed through different forms and shapes, from sculpture to illuminating objects where I use and combine a wide range of techniques and materials. I’ve been publishing and exhibiting nationally and internationally. I find paper porcelain as the best technical solution for presenting my interest in illuminated objects and experimenting with the integration of ceramic and light. When the light runs through the paper porcelain it creates a warm feeling in the spectator through the natural palette of colours from yellow to orange and red. I enjoy playing with the interventions on the surface which in the final product result from the extraordinary dance of light and shadows.’ (text from the artist, my thanks to Jovana Čavorocić)
All of these artists are exhibited at the gallery. For more information on these artists, contact www.blatobran.com
A new gallery dedicated solely to contemporary ceramic art has just opened in Belgrade. This light, bright attractive space, located in the fashionable Dorcal area, has been designed to showcase the work of a group of artists some of whom are directly associated with the Blatobran Workshop, a loose but ambitious group of ceramicists who teach and work in a shared studios. The selection currently on display is notable for its eclecticism and as such demonstrates the extraordinary versatility of clay as a medium: the pieces shown here are at once aesthetic, practical, sculptural and ornamental, criss-crossing categories so that lights, bowls, animals, objects and constructions harness light and shade, void and surface, colour and texture, size and technique in brilliantly creative ways. Artists exhibiting at the moment include professionals and amateurs as well as new and established artists, and many of whom are increasingly being recognised internationally. The display will change regularly and most pieces are for sale. The gallery is open daily. Gospodar Jevremova 38, Beograd, www.blatobran.com
Predrag Popara is a Bosnian-born, Belgrade-trained painter who is a founding member of Funnel, a platform for generating trans-national connections between geographically dispersed contemporary artists. His works are large & impressive, dense or fluid, abstract & monochrome. Other Funnel members include Roberto Coda Zabetta who works between Milan & London; Giancarlo Ceraudo in Buenos Aires; Kenneth Blom in Denmark; Bogdan Vladuta in Bucharest, Alessio Maximiliam Schroder in Vienna, Vuk Vuckovic in Belgrade and Mate Djordjevic in Paris. All eight live and work mostly in European centres but each artist exhibits to and is collected by a broader international circuit of public and private patrons. Occasionally they organise joint exhibitions. The current one ‘Transformations’ recently left Serbia for Romania. The works explore the ways in which mass-media exploits and normalizes violence and aggression, how it stimulates creation, institutes a desire for the positive – progress but also for the negative – self-destruction. The exhibit opens today in two locations in Bucharest: at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Alexandru 41 and Funnel Contemporary Artspace, Calea Victoriei 87-89. Until 9th January 2015. See http://www.funnelcontemporary.eu
A recent exhibition in Novi Sad put professors from the Academy of Fine Arts into creative dialogue with some of the works in an important private collection of twentieth-century art that is housed in a purpose-built gallery. Organised by Jelena Sredanović, the result is a dialogue between present and past, painting and drawing or drawing, tapestry and sculpture. The originals and the works they inspired are shown together and the resulting connections vary on a scale between total transformation, purloined fragment or simple, subtle variation. This small exhibition (7 new to 6 originals) was situated in a museum that is otherwise well-worth seeing for the permanent collection which was gifted to the serbian people by its collector – a diplomat – in 1957. The museum is unrivalled because unlike the ex-yugoslavian national collections in Belgrade which are permanently closed, this one is permanently open. Furthermore, much of the collection is actually on display, lovingly and meaningfully valorized by its curator, Jasmina Jakšić. For information on current exhibitions see http://www.pavle-beljanski.museum Trg galerija 2, Novi Sad. Open Wednesday to Sunday 11-18; Thursdays 13-21. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Currently on display in an award-winning gallery specialising in the exhibition of drawings is a retrospective of a highly considered, internationally acclaimed, bosnian-born artist who lives and works in Belgrade. The drawings are witness to several decades of work and they all relate to Ratko Lalic’s intense engagement with the materiality of nature. Drawing means a mixture of pencil, pen, ink, watercolour, collage and paint. What it produces are zoomed-in explorations of trees, trunks, branches, paths, nests, birds, petals and stones. The images offer intricate, dense networks of criss-crossed lines that are set against delicate colour tints – pale greys and blues, whites, greens or browns – painted-in incompletely onto textured paper. Some look botanical, others architectural. The titles record subjects in general terms, yet the drawings give aesthetic and imaginative life to the very organic particulars of Sunflowers, Roots, Vines, Blades of Grass and Traces in the Snow. Lalic sells and exhibits all over the world. This exhibition is at the Haos Drawing Art Gallery, Dositejeva 3, 11000, Belgrade. From 12h to 20h every day until 21st November 2014 see www.galleryhaos.com
An exhibition of photographs, drawings and paintings produced during 1914-15 when Serbia was at war. The photos tell a sombre story that starts with the farms and new recruits. We follow them to the Thessaloniki front, watch them die or retreat through frozen Albania to the ships that evacuated them to Cyprus. A selection of paintings then retrace the same journeys, the same places, the same battles but in colour and as landscape or large battle portraits. There are framed sketches made by artists who were also soldiers and alongside these bits and pieces of memorabilia. The title of the exhibition is taken from the diary of Milan Vakaljac, a serbian officer and volunteer. Until December 2014 at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Knez Mihailova 35. Daily 10-10pm, Thursdays 10-4pm
If you like prints, Belgrade is currently full of them. The International Printmaking show has returned and is currently occupying five galleries in the city centre. The biggest selection of works – comprising 209 prints by artists from 40 different countries – is on display at the Cvijeta Zuzoric Art Pavilion in Kalemegdan Park, but you can walk down the Kneza Mihajlova and call in on three more shows at the Graphic Arts Center (Pariska 16), at the Ulus Gallery (Knez Mihajlova) and at the Graphics Collective Gallery near Republic Square (Obilićev venac 27). Finish off the tour at the gallery of the University of the Arts on the Kosančićev venac, 29. This is the second Triennial and it follows up on the success of the first, which was held in Belgrade in 2011. The initiative comes from the faculty at the Department of Graphic Arts (University of Belgrade) and the idea is to give a comprehensive view of the state of contemporary print-making. Artists from all over the world have donated their works. As they say in the brochure ‘prints like to travel’ and these ones have come from as far away as China and Canada. The selection includes virtually every technique that has ever been used to make a print. Overall, pattern and abstraction seem to win over representation with the monochromatic hues outnumbering full-blown colour. Everyday 10.00-20.00, until 4th October, all locations.