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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 118 | volume  | March-April, 2018



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 118March-April, 2018
Gallery Reviews

Edin Vejselović ‘Neretva AUTOPORTRET’, Galerija Java

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Jon Blackwood


Edin Vejselović ‘Neretva AUTOPORTRET’, Galerija Java

Edin Vejselović’s new exhibitions of painting and video, ‘Neretva Autoportret’, opened at the end of last week at Galerija Java on Titova. The front gallery space is filled with over half a dozen subtle and seductive ‘self-portraits’ of the famous river, which turn out to be an intriguing mixture of traditional landscape painting, land art and action art.
    Critical to this exhibition’s realization was the carefully staged process by which the paintings were made. They were made in the open air by the river; the artist painstakingly tried to find the precise emerald tone for which the Neretva is famous, and then applied that to the canvas. Once this was done, these raw materials were put in the river, which acted upon them, in the manner of the River producing its own portrait; finished, the work was removed from the water, and made ready for the exhibition.
    It would be possible to read this exhibition in terms of traditional landscape, but this would limit the scope of one’s response. The finished paintings- the triptych in the front space of the gallery really is captivating and invites repeated looking-certainly stand alongside other examples of contemporary landscape painting, such as those by John Virtue.
    But traditional landscape painting, in its attempt to capture the ‘spirit of place’ or ‘the timeless spirit¬ual values of (whatever) nation’, fundamentally is about an individual artist ordering and composing nature, in order to impose his own (dis)ordered vision on the spectator. Quite the reverse is going on here. For sure, the River Neretva with its amazingly luminous colors at certain times of day, and with its central role in the different stages of BiH history, is a key marker of the contingent historical narratives and identities of this country; but, if anything, the artist reduces himself to a very mini¬mal role here. These works reveal an artist who wants us to focus on his subject and its contemporary situation, rather than on his own creative personality.
    The nature of these compositions leaves chance and random circumstance playing as important a role in the finished work, as the artist himself. There is the sense that a good proportion of the artistic personality has been ‘washed away’ by the constant movement of the river. In this sense, it is possible to draw interesting parallels between these instances of landscape painting, and both Land Art -

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