VI. His Tragic Muse
#13 My father was a romantic adventurer. In his tender boyhood years he applied in an international competition for the post of national park guard in Tanzania. He could not speak any foreign languages, he was not of age and he hated weapons, but he knew how to tame what was wild and win the respect of farm animals. He supposed that he would not have much chance to talk in any of the world languages in the African wilderness and, what was most important, he was already aware that he could spend long periods of time alone with himself without feeling uncomfortable. Since he did not manage to go to Africa, he became a painter. Two things connect Africa with my father’s adventure of painting: love of nature and an inclination to solitude. To descend and ascend through the dangerous spheres of the spirit in the company of teachers long dead, as Dante traveled with Virgil and Alain de Lille’s human spirit with Aristotle, the artist needs something that fills other people with horror -the art of enduring solitude. At the moment when skill becomes art, which is difficult to logically explain, even the great teachers of the past stand back and the Muses take over. My father was consistent in his approach to solitude, which he needed to travel along the vertical spiritual line. It might sound contradictory, but Petlevski liked to be integrated and stand aside at the same time. That is why he had two homelands and could be doubly loved and doubly alone. When the time came for the guides to pull back during his painting adventure, Aristotle, the teacher he had taken over from Alexander of Macedon, retreated. The beloved Croatian teachers Giulio Clovio and Marcus Marulus also left him. He remained alone with his Muse. His Muse was tragic, but all the same Petlevski called himself a happy man beloved by destiny. It took him to Zagreb, or perhaps it would be better to say that his Muse returned him there. The Croatian city was the place of his greatest relaxation and solitude in an atmosphere of family happiness, the only place where he could sit down, take the black notebook in his hands and with saintly serenity write the last sentence of his memories: Painting is my intimacy. There is nothing after that statement. Not even a full stop. Exchanging looks more than words, my brother and I seek for a place worthy of the paintings. And we are full of apprehension. Because nothing is worthy, nothing safe. Except for the place already ensured for them in Malraux’s imaginary museum.
#14Music is the highest imaginable form of abstraction, but it nevertheless always seemed to me that painting is the closest to God’s work is not only creation, it is embodiment in pigment in which the idea seems to voluntarily, happily agree to be revived, to be incarnated; even when it seems that it has discarded form and any kind of similarity with the recognizable things in this world. Petlevski accepted pa reward, as a rare, precious possibility to touch the spirit. He woke up with the awareness of that wonderful possibility every day. My not like chronologies because he believed that art-time surpasses the boundaries of events and individual lives. He would never agree i diary, or perhaps I’m wrong? The Fantasmagie Cycle was a kind of personal diary of gratitude.