May 28th – June 13th
Blazes the eyes yet shades. It’s hard and pleasant at the same time. Whitening blackness. Ljiljana Šunjevarić’s canvas-scenes are laid before the eye just as a view through a window. Usually of a larger scale, it could be the window of a train or a bus that is moving, occasionally stalling or slightly accelerating depending on the route that always through the night leads to dawn. Distant dimmed landscapes are passing by or light strikes in the close-up forcing the observer to flinch. Anyone who has passed that road will clearly sense that the artist leads the observer along the Ibarska Highway, towards Kosovo and Metohija. Through this artery of departures and returns, travels through the landscapes where road stations alternate and entwine with industrial depots, bridges, towns and cemeteries, strongholds of human life and death – its continuation – the existential relationship of an artist and observer/accomplice with the space in which they live is being established.
Every journey is a small migration. And everything that moves does not pass if to pass means to disappear, to cease to exist. It’s all there. Witnesses of existence are irradiating from a dark background, and those gleams awake from slumber, they do not allow the eye to become unsighted. As all words are contained in each of them, each is inscribed in each and each is weighted with the meanings of all the others, which are not its property and yet belong to it – as a burden or as a secret force. Just as there is no hour without all the previous ones, nor this sight outside the overall context, there is no new without everything before, everything current is burdened with everything previous. The burden bestows with meaning and harmony.
The atmosphere is filled with silence, an impossible one. More than the roar of (Ibar-) water, which always finds its way, more than the rattling of wheels or the engine humming, silence is disturbed by muteness. Only in speechlessness, the miljkovicesque one, lays the true meaning of a word. Black is the color of silence, all other colors have melded into it, and from it they slowly spill over the canvas, only giving a hint of the full capacity of color. Its magnificence, we will be assured of as soon as it dawns.
Life lasts as long as the memory lasts – it is carved on a monument in one of the new Serbian towns. Memory is the absence that is present. Memory is a presence that is absent. Everything that is includes what it is not and without which even what is would not be/exist. Memory is like an amputated limb persistently felt by the surviving body, often even suffering the phantom, merleaupontian pain from it. Thanks to the pain, the subject is still whole. But just as there is no memory without the one who remembers, there is no scene – the one that is revealed to the eye – without the one who sees it (every eye appears to observe what no one else sees) and sees through. For Ljiljana Šunjevarić, a work of art does not exist without one who encompasses it with his eyes. The observer is an accomplice and only with him is the fullness and integrity of the artistic act achieved. Neither literary, nor musical, nor artistic work exists for itself and in itself. However, she goes a step further: the painted canvas does not become a work of art through the eye of the beholder, but the painted canvas and the observer together form a work of art. That is why the uniformed persons (aren’t we all uniformed? Are you sure?) included in the scene that they themselves observe are not law representatives who supervise, control, record, interrogate, but are accomplices of creation. The observer fathoms the aura of the work of art not only with his eyes but also with his body, physically and becomes his inseparable part.
Art does not belong to everyone, but through artist we all belong to art.
Vesna Smiljanić Ragelov
Photo: Ivan Petrović, Milorad Mladenović