Dragan Petković (1952-2004)
#1 One of the most loyal followers of the abstract discourse in the Macedonian art is Dragan Petković. With his recent tragic death, Macedonia has lost the most consequent transmitter of the phenomenological research of painting.
Dragan Petković was born in Skopje in 1952. His German discipline of spirit and action, his wish to recreate the chaos in an order and system might have resulted from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana where he graduated in 1977. He had independent exhibitions in the Club of Journalists in Skopje (1981), then at the Youth Cultural Centre (1983), at the Belgrade Student Cultural Centre gallery, together with Blagoja Manevski and Jovan Šumkovski (1988), and finally, he presented himself in s small monographic-retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Skopje (1988). In Zagreb, Belgrade and Skopje (1985-1986), Petković was one of the six participants of the exhibition “From the Miracles of Meadows to the Joy of Living”. The critiques of Zagreb and Belgrade who evaluated this exhibition quite objectively stimulated the euphoric dimension of their creative energy. Dragan Petković, along with the other participants at this exhibition (Simon Šemov, Aneta Svetieva, Dimitar Manev, Gligor Stefanov, Petre Nikoloski) was part of the generation that most explicitly opened itself towards the art spaces of the other republics of former Yugoslavia and paved the way of the new status of the new Macedonian art in the former Federation. The new evaluation of these authors with fresh ideas and new discourse was very stimulating for all of them, but Dragan Petković permanently lived in the memory of this, border than the narrow Macedonian cultural aerial, recognition of their special creative potential. Petković then exhibited at important, strictly selective exhibitions in Rieka, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Skopje, Ljubljana, he was part of the anthological exhibition at MCA in 1994, at the “9½: New Macedonian Art” (1995) exhibition and the study exhibition “Transformations of Macedonian Painting”, also at MCA (2000).
#2 Dragan Petković appeared in the art sphere of Macedonia at the end of the 70-es, in a climate tired of the domination of one direction, while at the same time curios in awakening of the authenticity of the art thought through research of its own internal areas. In the spiritual worlds of the young generation of this period, it is visible that there is a changed behavior with respect to the world art empire. As a member of authors oriented like this, Petković, without background and prejudices explains its predilection for the American abstract expressionists and minimalists – on the mythic gestular choreography of Jackson Polack, readiness of Ad Reinhardt to endlessly repeat his Ultimate Painting No. 19, on Barnet Newman’s reduction of Piet Mondrian’s concept of two colors or two relations, on the decorative dramatics of Henri Matisse and the founding boldness of Rodchenko to paint Pure Red, Pure Blue, Pure Yellow in 1920. ..
#3 If we use the dialectic key of Thomas Kuhn (Comparative Studies in Society and History 1, 1969, pp. 403-412), the art genesis of Petković contains the following stages: normal situation, anomaly, crisis and paradigm. It should be stressed immediately that there are no negative connotations in the crisis, because it is a nucleus of a new idea in birth. Interpreted via this methodological scheme, the creative thought of Petković enters the normal situation of the Macedonian art in 1977/78 as an anomaly, not so much in a morphological sense, as in philosophical one. The oil paintings Complementary Games 1, Complementary Games 2, Games of Simultaneousness (all from 1977); Yellow (1978), Structure of Yellow, Structure of Red, Structure of Orange (1978-80), with their monochomaticity or complementarity, these works have no reflections in our environment, although the last one is already adjusted to the abstract diction. However, no critic sees the absolute lack of well-known references in these paintings, as well as of citations, associations and allusions to reality. The abstract speech in Macedonia until then had not distanced itself from the idea of relations: the non-figurative expression of Petar Mazev was grown into the tissue of the historical patina, the enformelian paintings of Risto Kalčevski searched from the micro and macro structures of nature, Aleksandar Risteski searched for the meaning of geographical substrate, Ordan Petlevski and Aleksandar Jankuloski researched the biological map of existence, Ivan Velkov was interested in the cosmic exoteric worlds, and Rodoljub Anastasov dived into the layers of the injured psyche.