The Black Field – Dragana B. Stevanović and Goran Jureša’s joint Exhibition

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We are pleased to invite you to attend the opening of Dragana B. Stevanović and Goran Jureša’s joint exhibition Black Field in Lucida gallery, 11, Čika Ljubina street, Belgrade, on Saturday, 14th January at 7 pm.


For the first time, Dragana B. Stevanović and Goran Jureša present themselves to the audience with their joint project named “Black Field”.

Dragana B. Stevanović‘s “black paintings” have been created consecutively over the past fifteen years. Although they have not been previously presented as a complete work, they were undertaken independently at the same time as her other cycles, representing a sublimation of formulated periods and experiences.

For Dragana, the physical aspect of her artwork’s dimension is important; usually, the size of her canvas does not exceed the range of her arms. The potential for free, continuate arm thrust, action and motion of the arm are important for her because of her artistic expression with broad, powerful draw, pursuing the anthropometry of her body.

In the predominantly black background of Dragana’s artworks we see stylised human figures, letters, words, or parts thereof, the reduced forms of objects derived with traces of white, yellow, red and blue colour. In her earlier works, painting material had an organic character of the internal states’ struggle, while her later works are based on the narrative of everyday situations of alienation, physical absence and death.

The human figure is the composition’s carrier. It is stylised, sometimes by simplifying its forms through the avoidance of representing all parts of the body, other times by multiplying, oversizing or substituting these parts (arms, legs, heads). Dragana’s representation reduces human figures to an omen of human presence, the presence of men and/or women, to the essential sign of civilisation. The presence of that mankind’s principle she also represents with the isolated, stylised human head in which the experience of expressive drawings and primordial character of the display intersect. Her human figures have some of the basic features of the sculpture of Lepenski Vir and Cycladic idols, but they also have something of fauvism, surrealism and primitive art.

By removing from the composition everything superfluous, unnecessary, and by cleansing it of any “excess”, narrative and emotion, Dragana purposefully places elements on the surface of the image, turning the picture around on all four sides to create a uniquely perceptible composition. As through a kaleidoscope, an observer can change the spatial orientation of the image, it can turn it the other way and thus enrich his experience with a new viewing angle that may bring him some entirely new insight, but the essence of the artistic testimonies inevitably remains unchanged.

Dragana’s figures have no predestined meaning, they do not constitute any symbolic representation nor have they primarily formal or aesthetic nature. They simply ARE. They are placed in the spatial correlation within which they do not communicate clearly with each other nor do they communicate openly with the spectator. They are located within some of their own dimensions, which functions differently to ours. They encourage us to identifying relationships within the compositions that can be described as records of inter-synaptic activities, such as a disclosure of that elusive, ineffable that appears to us, while falling asleep, in a sudden flash of lucidity in all its clarity and importance, only to be forever lost from the memory in the very next moment.

Each of Dragana’s black paintings, as a starting point, has a particular “event”; the “event” may be an experience or a thoughtful insight that initiates Dragana’s art expression whose end result often works for us as a complete enigma. Like Rorschach’s inkblots, Dragana’s black paintings also reveal us a part of ourselves.

For her black paintings, Dragana says that they are “condensed indicators of theme-thoughts that cannot be painted on another colour painted background. They are accents o the “events” beyond space and time.”

Goran Jureša‘s drawings belong to the cycle Hana Kšiževska, named after a tragic figure of the first of seven short stories from Danilo Kiš’s collection The Tomb for Boris Davidovich called “The Knife with the Rosewood Handle” and the cycle Von der Alten Heimat zu Neue Heimat (From the Old Homeland to the New Homeland).

In Kiš’s short story “The Knife with the Rosewood Handle” all the characters manifest evil, except Hana Kšiževska, who is the only innocent, pure and righteous character, and who, of course, is the only one who gets hurt, being brutally murdered in the second attempt (after an unsuccessful strangulation) stabbed with a knife with the rosewood handle, by which Kiš ironically indicates how something sophisticated and valuable can be used for the worst possible cause, for the purpose of the murder of an innocent girl.

This contrast is also present in Goran Jureša’s drawings, through the representation of a female nude figure and black heads-stains that attack and destroy, devour and disintegrate her before our eyes. This ontological conflict, as well as the inevitable connection between the binary opposites of good and evil, Eros and Thanatos, light and dark, Goran displays through the subtle relationship between figuration and abstraction, and thus, based on the principles of deconstruction, formally builds a dynamic composition. For his work, Goran says that “expressiveness in the drawing allows the dynamics that is, in my opinion, what this kind of scene needs. At the same time, the drawings are abstract enough to avoid the trap of narrative. ”

A female nude figure is the central motif of each drawing from the cycle Hana Kšiževska. The figure is stylised, reduced to a few powerful strokes in which we recognise the contours of a female body which volume is represented by expressive, feverish strokes of mostly grey colour, creating an internal dynamic, visual tension in the indication of a dying body that has already left to its fate and become prey. The black heads-killers attack in packs, like piranhas or hyenas, with no remorse, frantically gnawing everything placed before them. Goran’s energetic compositions on the edge of abstraction records the agony of murder, but they are free of any pathos, drama and other intense emotions; therefore, his drawings from this cycle rise to the level of a paradigm of the contemporary visual image of the suffering and killing of innocent and discriminated. Hana is a “the body-sacrifice model and as such a paradigm for all dismembered body/victims in today’s geopolitical world,” says Goran.

The creation of the other cycle as a cause has a geographic map which Fritz Freudenheim, then an eleven-year-old boy, drew by hand in 1938 when, as a member of a Jewish family, he emigrated from Berlin to Montevideo. By his child’s hand and the drawing reduced to a simplified composition of the geographical map of the world (Europe, Africa and South America), he accurately and vividly presented his family emigration by different conveyances from one end of the world to another, within a map named Von der Alten Heimat zu der Neuen Heimat! (From the Old Homeland to the New Homeland!). The map is kept at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

As in his other works, Goran begins with dismantling the subject to its essential parts, reducing them further with stylization to their barely recognizable form, then skilfully combining them as emblems, as the primary sign-bearers of an idea, in order to give them a new life through a visual “re-make” of the image that, for him, was an initiator of the idea in the first place. He uses as a wax block as a material that he applies to the paper surface with his hands, thus the drawing gains the volume and layering. The real plan is hardly visible, the expressive patches of colour conceal and make it difficult for us to immediately reveal the answer to the riddle which is still suggested by some inscribed dates, parts of a series of terms written on the drawings, as well as the titles of the works themselves, forcing us to stop and mentally solve that Jureša’s puzzle.

Goran uses “patches” as phonemes of his artistic language. Outlined with distinct contours, his patches epitomise in themselves the artist’s subconscious impulses transmitted through gestures; they are made up of dense matter of emotions and reminiscences containing all the intense of the artist’s strong expression. Goran places his colour stains in the forefront, to the surface of his compositions and he determines their exact position by feeling, depending on the ideological setting of the elements that had initiated the artist’s eruptive cognitive and emotional response at first.

Dragan and Goran say for themselves that, although each of them has a unique artistic language, they are both similar in the issue of their internal state because the spiritual space they share is identical. The global crisis and incidents, the exile of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, many of whom have ended up drowned on the shores of the Mediterranean, as well as the lack of sense in the functioning mechanisms of the environment in which they live have an impact on that spiritual space. Frustration built on these grounds is a source of their recent works.

The black field Dragana and Goran treat differently in their artworks – with Dragana it is in the background, defining the space and limiting the scene, while Goran place it in the foreground, in the form of patches voluminously accentuated by the deposits of coloured wax block, as one of the main characters of deliberately concealed, insinuated narrative. The black colour is one of the possible denominators of these artworks. Black represents the lack of light but also compresses all the other colours that still exist somewhere in it, even though we cannot see them. As a black hole, it draws into itself everything in its way, it thickens, but also gains the ambiguity. Black can reveal the state of the human spirit, his thoughts and actions, the situation or atmosphere of despondency, crime or cruelty, but it can also be a field of contemplation, inspiring thinking and discovering process.

Although the authors did not want their artwork to have any didactic character or to warn, but only to state the facts, studying Dragana B. Stevanović and Goran Jureša’s artworks, the viewer is absorbed into that world of theirs which will certainly provoke him to further reflection and research, whether the authors like it or not.

Ivona Fregl