The Opening of Zdravko Joksimović’s Exhibition “Art Therapy”

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Art Therapy

Within the exhibition “Art Therapy” in the Lucida Gallery, Zdravko Joksimović presents a selection of his new and already existing artworks in a new, but for his work characteristic, ironic and poetic context. The exhibition title tells us that art is a cure, but also that we all need a strong art therapy, to initiate the process of our healing. The idea that art can be understood as a cure derives from Joksimović’s work Art Therapy from 2014, which, according to the author, presents a mild irony on the parallel structured Irvine Jalom’s book The Schopenhauer Cure; in this eponymous exhibition, this idea, as well as the humour always present in the titles of his artwork, represent a common denominator for all works.

Under the auspices of this idea, the artist exhibits sculptures, assemblies, and drawings, presenting us with a different, alternate view of the world that represents the critical reflection of society, but it also plays with our perception of the world that surrounds us.

Along with the drawings, Zdravko Joksimović also presents his sculptures and assemblies on the walls of the gallery. A large wooden panel painted in pastel blue colour carries a whirlwind of leather in motion in the artwork Skin Colour Does Not Matter, sculpture Lying Nude represents an isolated stylized female sex organ and a part of the buttock seen from the lying perspective, plastically articulated of the worm-eaten wooden headboard of the ancient bed; A Thousand Times Because depicts a raised segment of the stylized metal spine on the wooden base in the shape of the pink colour cello, while Art Therapy, Wishing You Lots of Health and Consult Your Pharmacist display blow-up medicaments dozers that remind the sweets boxes made of seemingly soft lead, filled with remnants of the original packaging of drugs, Christmas round ornaments or plastic pearls that represent medicines – candies. Where Are the Glasses? anticipates the idea of introducing the interior of the apple fruit, seen by the eye of the artist in the glasses case and seeds.

From the drawings, the artist’s selection is consists of three studies of exhibited artworks and two variations of the Hockey Field. The latest two were created thirty years ago, but relate to the artworks mentioned above both formally, with their circular elements and the emphasis on different thicknesses and the line course direction as the primary expression medium, and conceptually, thus within this exhibition, they found their new context, a new life.

Zdravko Joksimović brings all his artworks to the elegance of the pictorial reduction of the sign.


 Collection – combinatorics – recontextualization

Zdravko Joksimović is a passionate collector of various objects – some of them he finds in a dump, neglected and discarded, and others he notices and buys in unexpected places. Everything that attracts his attention because of its design, but also due to its function and primary meaning, becomes a part of his collection of interesting forms, colours and possible allusions and metaphors of different meanings. He places and stores these objects in a physical space, but he also deposits them in the depths of his mind, from where they can suddenly escape the actuated by a visual trigger when the idea for their recontextualization and the opportunity for reuse arise.

His artistic creativity in recognising objects gives over to the sudden insights and the intuitive. The artist believes that “every part brings its formal and conceptual traits into the whole: form, colour, measure, function, a story, its history.” Within the artwork, these objects and their parts change their “ID card”, they get a new identity and different, unexpected meanings. Joksimović says that “each part has an important constituent role – their strong visual identity influences the formal sculpture arrangement; everything must come to unity because the statement without that unity cannot be communicated to the audience.”

Zdravko Joksimović uses utilitarian objects which he adapts with artistic interventions to each other, as well as to the independently created pieces of assemblages; by combining them, he articulates a firmly connected compositional whole characterised by unique, recognisable aesthetics. “Assemblages perfectly suit my need to combine, change and modify, add and subtract, to separate parts from the whole, to move them to another place,” says the artist.

Zdravko Joksimović finds pleasure in combinatorics and recontextualization, he amuses himself by matching the parts of his artwork as if playing Master Mind against himself, but his perfectionist side must be satisfied as well. Therefore the artwork is not completed until all the constituent elements are matched in a way that it looks like that their new layout has always been their natural state of existence.


Respecting the nature of material

Zdravko Joksimović understands, accepts and treats the material as a “living thing”. For this artist, material represents one of the essential elements of the sculpture, besides form and space; the choice of material reveals much about the artist’s intentions regarding the conception of the artwork, but also about the anticipated audience perception. The material is a medium through which the ideas are transferred, whether it has a dominantly representative role or it only conveys its quality to the audience. For Joksimović, the material can be the primary trigger of the idea for creating a particular artwork. Whether we are an audience or an author, the material reveals the manner in which we see it, but also what we recognise in ourselves by discovering it, the artist considers.

Various materials open up a wide range of possibilities for examining the form and displaying unexpected qualities: in the artist’s works, lead is thin and vulnerable as skin, the leather is light as a feather in the wind, and noble ideas on art therapy he represents with cheap plastic pearls and Christmas ornaments. He always presents material in a thoughtfully designed and carefully executed form. Zdravko Joksimović plays with perceptions, opinions and attitudes on everything that his artworks are consist of. Therefore he combines, at first glance, incompatible materials in a firm artistic unity, or, as he says, “I intentionally use the most sophisticated material with trash”.

In most of his artworks, Joksimović reviews their pictorial values. Colour is an essential element of his compositions’ visual structure, even crucial as material and form. The pre-existing colour of an object or a part of an object that the artist incorporates into its work he uses as an organic quality of the surface and allows it to affect the outcome of the work.


Artwork titles – the ironic thinking out loud

Zdravko Joksimović regards the artwork titles as their first and last name. He says that some artworks, without their specific names, would not be what they are. He believes that giving a name to works has all the characteristics of creativity. By naming artworks, Zdravko Joksimović adds that final, poetic element to his compositions, thus uniting them into a compact whole. The titles represent the artist’s thinking out loud of the artwork’s idea and intention, but also about the doubts that the artist has not managed to solve completely.

The titles explicitly reveal the humour, irony and cynicism that need to be formally discovered in his works, which are one of the distinct features of Zdravko Joksimović’s artistic opus. The artist does not give up on humour and poetry, because, as he says, they are “a part of my nature and the way I initially joke with myself, and then I try to make this reality more tolerable.”


Work, work and more fun

Zdravko Joksimović creates very carefully, patiently his artwork paying attention to every detail. The childish questioning, curiosity and the ability to identify and reveal a part of the visual identity of something completely different in the appearance of an object, lead this artist to the ultimate reaches of art. His perfectionist mind does not give him peace until the new composition becomes utterly self-sufficient, to the perfection of a pictorially shaped visual entity and until its irony finds the right balance between being too obvious and insufficiently clear.

Joksimović does not play safe, he takes risks, but very meaningfully, thoughtfully and imaginatively, by choosing forms and materials (in processing which he is a real virtuoso) to entertain his curiosity but also to engage the audience in the puzzling out these visual riddles. “I believe that what one does is equally important as how he does it,” says the artist.

Zdravko Joksimović is in the eternal quest for beauty phenomenon. Though he concludes that aesthetics is no longer in fashion, he believes that human nature still strives to observe harmonious, beautiful forms that, because of their features, appear susceptible. He concludes that the need for beauty, being one of the universal philosophical categories, will always exist and that in art it is necessary to strive for high aesthetic ranges, and not to run away from them.


The meaning – does looking for it make sense?

Zdravko Joksimović’s artworks are not stories for themselves – they are the main protagonists of the story, and the stories are around them, weaved from that, at first sight, invisible, that one has to distinguish, recognise, observe and perceive. In creating and reading these stories, both left and right hemisphere, logic and intuition take part. The ambivalent interpretations are encouraged by the unusual, at first glance illogical relation between form and content of his artworks, although in these interpretations the author leaves no place for any arbitrariness. As in life, the meaning of the artwork is never what it seems to be at first, nor does the artwork have only one meaning. “There is no too much mystification, what is in front of you, these are the signs that we puzzle out every day, and they are very easy to read,” says Joksimović.

In his works, the artist often uses metaphors and metonymy, the rhetorical stylistic figures that, as he explains, help him to organise his thoughts and feelings in a way that goes beyond the personal. “My sculptures are aware of the semantic potential of things,” the artist says. “Semantically defined objects form a complicated relationship within the sculpture – they bring with themselves everything that they are, know and can be, but also what they are not, or even did not know that they are. Sculpture reveals their other nature, their other self. “

By manipulating the established perception of things and social stereotypes, the artist entertains himself by bringing about a distortion in the observers’ judgment and force them to think.


Final thoughts

By his art, Zdravko Joksimović transmits into material his feelings and his current thoughts about the world that surrounds him. He believes that “with the sculpture, one can transmit the most subtle and deepest feelings, which do not come so easily to the surface – we need to find a new form that protects them as much as it has to and reveals as much as it can.” Feelings are the essential element that makes both person and art truly alive.

The art therapy is a process in which the artist, the artwork and the audience take part. It confirms our need to change and cure this crazy, chaotic world in which we encountered, or at least ourselves within it. Joksimović holds that the ultimate goal of any artistic work is its cognitive healing abilities, which can be useful to us in finding the answer to the chaos that surrounds us daily. Dealing with arts encourages us to continually re-examine our beliefs and feelings, to change ourselves and influence the changes in our environment. Therefore, the author claims that dealing with arts can be curative, which this exhibition confirms.

Ivona Fregl


All photos courtesy of Mr Aleksandar Rafajlović