Dragan Petković, Retrospectively

/, Gallery, Blesok no. 64, Blesok no. 152/Dragan Petković, Retrospectively

Dragan Petković, Retrospectively

#12 With the paintings Furioso (pl. 29), Brutally Red (pl. 30), Fatally Blue and Traces (the last two are destroyed), all from 1987, painted in large formats and with, untypical for him, vehement power, even aggression, Petković seemed to declare with a loud voice of objection his dedication to the space of the painting and to the pleasure in painting. They were all made in monochrome gradations of the blue or red hue, which is almost poured on the canvas with fierce hand movements, but in the same variants of his characteristically broken gestures or regular application of wide strokes. It seems as if Petković wanted to break his own barrier, the guaranteed surface of the grid, that normative membrane against the illusion as a basic concept of our spatial order, which now, after all the painting has passed through, seems to be unnecessary, a long ago overcome obstacle in guiding the gaze into the layers of the body of the painted matter. In his following artwork in this period, the large triptych Tendencies (1987/88, pl. 31), the inclusion of the viewer in the process of creating of the painted representation became an exciting challenge. Petković lowered the high tone and reduced the color to nuances of white, and beside the white pigments he introduced pencil drawings and white nontransparent and transparent curves, layering it all into a dynamically agitated organic structure which is disclosed only #13 to the curious look in an almost tactile revelation of the interlacements of its open and dimly concealed layers. Tendencies showed that Petković remained devoted to his abstract sources and the cherishing of the means, techniques and procedures which defined the basis of his artistic practice; Tendencies also showed that now the painting or what it is representing is something which is not anymore analytical and tautological definitions of the form. Now they are ambiguous and multi-layered painted representations which “act as if intuitively painted areas, as metamorphosis of the gaze which has materialized into flexible forms-figures.”14F
In this period and in the following several years Petković intensively worked on a large series of drawings he labeled Structures which basically follow the logic of his large triptych; there are series of white and/or black drawings made with rhythmically and evenly layered strokes of pencil or white chalk, that saturate the surface so much that the eye experiences them as skin, as a kind of a tactile body wrapping. Finally, in a span of two years, between 1990 and 1991, Petković worked on a series of completely black and completely white paintings that, despite the differences in the texture, the thick layers of black pigment or the flat, shallow surface, still hardly induce our perception to experience them as representations, association or allusions and, actually, seem to completely alienate from the status of a traditional iconic, representative picture. The only “picture” we see in them comes from the titles which, still, do not possess any logical relation and could hardly suggest any suitable metaphors: some refer to certain moods (Eutimia, Astasia), some to abstract logical concepts (Kogito, Nocio), musical terms (Sordo, Gustozo) or physical phenomena (Expansion, Emanation). If we call in mind the works of the Informal Art, maybe in their reading we could find the basis for the idea of the existential “angst”, or if we consider the minimalism of Ad Reinhardt or the “white desert” of Robert Ryman, we might understand them as an intention to reduce the form to “ground zero” and that Petković was reaching the ultimate questions of the ontology of the painting and the meaning of its existence.
#14 However, a painterly installation with which Petković participated at the exhibition 9 1/2: New Macedonian Art in 1995, leads to different kinds of interpretations. The installation consisted of two identical rooms, one of which was painted black and on its walls were hung the black paintings of this Petković’s cycle, while the other room was painted white and it contained the white paintings. The floors of the rooms were covered with black and white pigment which was Petković’s way of allowing the viewers to symbolically carry the paintings on their feet and spread them all over the space, turning the floor into a kind of an arena. The title of the installation was Simbio (pl. 44) and it was actually a spatial realization of an earlier painting from the mentioned black/white cycle, titled Noesis (pl. 45): an artwork consisting of a particular arrangement of geometric forms, reminding of magnet and magnetic fields which attract and reject each other, rendering strong pulsating fields. This was quite unusual work for Petković, both by its form and by the symbolic language, but it also very sincerely and directly reveals the doubts and the faith of Petković in the essence and the power of the painting he’s been knowing and was dedicated to maintain in the time when it became rather obvious that things were moving to different directions. Sharing the same dilemmas Tomaž Brejc noted: “Maybe that ontological effort of the art of painting was just the last ‘religious’ attempt in the world which has become profane to that extent that it does not care any more for the essence of the paintings, it does not care if the painting reclaims at least some of the domains, or an attribute of sanctity, experiences of special values which can be retrieved only by the artist and not the ideologist, or if you wish, the electronic machine.”15F

#15 Starting from 1994 all the way to 1997 Petković had been occasionally working on a quite simple painting which obviously required a lot of his time to decide and declare it completed. Its title is Ellipse (pl. 50) and it consists of two black canvases with “sand” texture dominated by a simple white line which outlines a vertically set ellipse and which undoubtedly reminds of a vulva. There is a slide of that painting which shows that the diptych at the beginning consisted of white and black canvases with the same ellipsoid figure of vulva outlined against the contrast of the backgrounds; a black line on the white background and a white line on the black background. This first version of the painting is a synthesized version of the concept of the “petrified gaze” in the series of black and white canvases, where the ellipse had the same integrative function as in Noesis and the installation Simbio: the idea of connecting and reconciling the contrasts and the erotic connection of the “blood system” suggested by the ellipse from The Joy of Life. The final version, however, shows that Petković distances from this, inappropriate for him, kind of rhetorical interpretation of the problem of the picture and returns to the body of the painting itself, revealing it as a compressed symbol, as something similar to the black cross on white background of Malevich, a “zero ground” as the beginning of the reflection of the being.
#16 The display of the black and white paintings in the installation Simbio in 1995 was the last significant public appearance of Petković. His later work was rather conceived in his intimacy, in his constant occupation with the drawing, almost on a level of an intimate, diary-like note. Such are the numerous blue watercolors with the ellipsoid, Courbet-like direct suggestion of the vulva which sometimes turns into an eye, into what is its other identity (pl. 51-53). Such are the peculiar and preciously hand-made slides with the central ellipse (pl. 55 – 60). In that period Petković worked on two series of paintings, where in successive change of the form, similar to the film frames, he deals with the idea of motion and time in the painting (see pl. 46 – 49 and 61 – 64). And finally, the motion, the vibration or the existence of the painting in the rhythm of the pulse and the breath marks his last series of drawings with color pencils, made and labeled as Dialogue with Monet (pl. 70 – 83). In his home and studio there are still groups of paintings which were obviously a preparation for starting a painterly dialogues with Monet’s quivering of the lotus, the symbol of fertility.

14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

AuthorZoran Petrovski
2024-01-28T13:03:20+00:00 March 3rd, 2009|Categories: Reviews, Gallery, Blesok no. 64, Blesok no. 152|0 Comments