SAD: The first happening in Macedonia took place in 1973 in your studio. This was the time of “The New Artistic Practice” in Yugoslavia, but it was a novelty for Macedonia. How did you come to that idea?
PM: I simply felt a need for a synthesis, quite spontaneously. Artists of various profiles took part in the happening. Yet, from today ‘s point of view, this seems to have passed as a wind over me; I do not know how to interpret it, I would never do it again. I would now rather run away into the wilderness- alone with my painting. This is my great desire. I am looking for both internal and external silence. Loneliness is hard, but, when you conquer it, it can be rewarding.
SAD: You often isolate yourself of your own free will, but you always return to Skopje.
PM: Like everybody else, I am basically a social individual. But sometimes I get fed up with people. At the moment I need loneliness a lot. I am concerned about the hopeless situation in Macedonia and the problems in painting. An emphasized ethnic self-awareness has developed in me. If somebody finds part of the Macedonian sky in my painting, it will be the greatest compliment for me.
SAD: You had a one-man show in New York. How did you experience New York, of which Picabia and Duchamp said that it was “a work of total art”, and Francesca Alinovi that it was an “incarnation of the aesthetically ideal city” or “a city in which pure energy and turbid matter find the ideal meeting point as a mobile force of stimulation”?
PM: New York and the whole of America live in a crazy rhythm. The pace suited me. I fit completely into that tempo. The atmosphere was absolutely stimulating. My exhibition took place in the Yugoslav Culture and Information Centre (KIC). I had no illusions of any success, I expected nothing in particular. Perhaps that is why I was surprised when a pen like John Russell’s wrote a review of my show in The New York Times. His review tried to link my paintings to American painting, but also pointed to some national characteristics. I had opportunities to stay longer in America and have several exhibitions, but for this you must have recommendations from influential and important people.
SAD: In New York did you not come to suppose that the art of the future would fall into the hands of high technology? Or let us cite Picabia: “The machine is not any more an addition to life, it is a part of it, perhaps its soul.”
PM: Indeed, this is the time of technology, for instance in Japanese graphics, in computer graphics, in some painting disciplines. All this is remote from me. The most important thing in art is feeling, and it must come first. I do not believe in that kind of future, it means alienation from the real, from the deep. I used to follow everything that happened in the world. Now it does not interest me any more. I do not think about what is remote from me and that is why I now approach the canvas in a more relaxed way, without any tension. I believe only in the impression of my thought on the canvas. I stick to a specific tempo of painting. I have created many works. The goal of the painter is only to paint, so that he can leave this world peacefully. To sail in the time he lived in and then simply go away.
SAD: Would it mean anything to you if they put you among postmodernists in the sense of emphasized individualization, a Neo-Narcissistic tendency, indifferent withdrawal?
PM: I am not narcissistic. I am not a slave of movements any more, they do not impress me. I can do everything, I am strong if somebody challenges me. Only a spark is needed. When I make compromises I do not feel myself complete. I am tied, first of all, to myself and the time. I deeply feel the present moment of conflicts and unrest. It is my principal motivator.
SAD: You are the author of a number of monumental works created as commissions. What is your attitude when you work on contemporary committed problems? What is your responsibility before the future generations? What is your pleasure in the work, having in mind that major projects of this kind (mosaics, fresco-paintings) press the artist on several levels – thematic, technical, artistic…, and you do not work according to sketches? How do you manage to reconcile your spontaneity and intuition with the previously set concept?
PM: Since artists have always worked for competitions, at the beginning I try to adapt myself to the competion conditions – I make a conscious compromise. Having won the competition, I change everything from the start in order to adjust it lo my temperament. The most important thing is that I am satisfied. In contrast to the ceramic sculpture in the Monument to Ilinden and the National Liberation War in Kruševo, when I worked on the huge mosaic in the Titov Veles Mausoleum I had a different kind of freedom and responsibility. Everything went quickly and easily. I understood the mosaic as a painting – I simply painted with pieces of stone.