SAD: Let us go back to abstraction! How do you explain your white period?
PM: I cannot explain that ‘white period’ to myself. There was a certain divine peace in those monasteries. All I had absorbed there, that concentration, that relaxation, probably left traces on my informel canvases.
SAD: But there is also a kind of restlessness in these paintings. Peace and geometrism (more or less Mondrian’s model) are only an illusion, a phantasm. When we analyse the stroke, material, light, everything points to dynamism: geometry deviates from its stiff lines, matter is in whirlpools and layers, and light flickers in many points. Everything moves. In other words, expressionism still lives
PM: There is a collision, a collision of strokes, of structures. ‘The white period’ explained matter, density to me. When I paint a white surface, I look for the structure, I feed the canvas to the maximum, I insert miniature beads, wood. And all that arouses and stirs up the immobility. I have recorded in those paintings a solemn atmosphere close to the spirit of the monastery spaces.
SAD: “The white canvases” are some of the most significant informel paintings in Macedonia. Why did you adopt informel, did you express your anger, discontent, the tension of the time, or was there something else in question?
PM:•I painted them suddenly. I painted and experienced them vigorously. It came spontaneously, without any theory or philosophy behind them. It was pure intuition. Then I felt that white monochromy exhausted me, that I needed a pure and strong colour with a clear sound, and I returned again to my expressionism of the fifties.
SAD: 1968, student unrest in Yugoslavia and the whole of Europe – a new turn in your painting! You created a painting, at first it was called Saint, and then you renamed it Macedonian Woman. It was clearly informel, to which a posteriori, overnight, some human denotations were added. It was a crucial event – abstraction ended with it and figurative painting began, if we use the contemporary meaning of these terms.
PM: It was indeed a turning point in my painting. It was stylized in some way both in respect to informel and figuration. I was fed up with abstraction. Some internal law drove me to go back to figurative painting.
SAD: Macedonian Woman was in fact anticipation of Old Man, wasn’t it?
PM: It was a period when an ambition was born in me. I painted the canvas black and, from the black surface, the white, the light began to grow. The colours of the face and arms came over it. I wanted to prove that I could make a study in a different way. The white colour helped me to create light and to apply a completely different method from the classical one. Only I don’t know why I put that brooch on Old Man ‘s chest. Maybe I wanted to introduce a new structure in the oil, as I had done previously with the wood details in my informel paintings. This old man was real. I met him in the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski. We lived together in the monastery as hermits. We were friends.
SAD: In any case, you have immortalized that encounter.
PM: Yes, and I did not work according to a drawing. I made none.