Glances and Observations

Svetlana Radenković


July 31st – August 16th

The exhibition titled “Glances and Observations” by Svetlana Radenković is comprised of small format paper-based collages, large canvases with printed collage and the video work titled “How to explain paintings to a living art theorist.”

In the creative process, the tactile and physical relation with the work represents an important aspect of the artist’s work. With that as one of the starting points, she constructs a complex artistic system. In the series of collages, the artist quotes Robert Rauschenberg’s parable, in which he extracts the artistic term “combine” from the multifunctional agricultural machine of the same name, in a way metaphorically comparing the complexity of the painting process with the complexity of the machine.

The core of the small format collages represents the use of archival, inorganic material, more precisely pieces of catalogues from the sixties and seventies on the topic of industrial design in SFRY (Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia), which is the same period of industrial prosperity. The blue paper that appears as the most common base (background) in the collages, represents the basic symbol of the industrial, archaic and inorganic. Besides the characteristic blue paper various types of schemes, prospects and algorithms are also encountered.

The nature of collage itself is tightly related to re-contextualization. In this way in Svetlana Radenković’s collages, industrial and archival material that is used is being re-contextualized, losing its original meaning, where the material transforms into part of the artistic expression. The representation of nature and its organic features, appears as another important element in these works. Drawing is the main subject that underlines the inorganic and organic as the new artistic totality. In drawing, the deconstructive part is also inherent. Apart from the industrial prints and landscapes, the textual parts can also be seen, while anthropomorphic forms symbolically emerge through the numbers and geometry schemes, as faces without eyes and expression. We almost talk about Orwellian poetics, where man in modern society becomes a number and the political – social utopia collapses under the inspection of the Big Brother.

The large canvases are in a sense, recreations of the small format collages. By recomposing particular parts of the smaller formats, the artist creates a new artistic entity, although originating from existing works, now continue to ‘live’ on their own. The artist examines countless artistic possibilities that could be made by repurposing fragments of already existing works.

The video work “How to explain paintings to a living art theorist” is a work where the author recreates Joseph Beuys’s performance “How to explain paintings to a dead hare”. In this work, the artist is mainly doing the same activities which Joseph Beuys performed in his in 1965 piece, but with the difference of the artist replacing the dead hare with a living art theorist.

By referencing the modernist artistic practice, the author is creating her own universe, where she touches on subjects such as the complexity of creation, the artistic process as well as the subjects of reception and interpretation (performance). However, in her own works she doesn’t assume a crudely defined stance. What could be interpreted as a position of critique is in fact in Svetlana Radenković’s work rather mild irony and humor (in case the of the performance), or a quest for an artistic problem and new ideas. Constant search and experimentation are things that characterize the works of Svetlana Radenković. Continuous change of context is what opens and spreads the path open for the author. Perhaps this is exactly where the greatest value of the displayed works lies – in encountering experiment, investigation, play, searching… in glances and observations.

Text: Anđela Milinković
Photo: Boris Burić