Milan Stašević

He evidently dreams of the simultaneity of all worlds.

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The background against which these worlds meet, these heterogeneous stories, “castles and towns”, is the column, the printed page, our direct, quotidian eyeglasses. Dispersed worlds and their symbols, painted on the surface of what is most direct and, at the same time, most perfectly mediated: text. This does not lead us into a new order, a forced codification, but rather into a new unsurveyability. The most quotidian thing of all, the daily press, newspapers, text, becomes and unexpected semiotic background against which fragmented eternity dances its sepulchral, posthumous dance.

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Painting is a pair of eyeglasses through which one sees other eyeglasses… And that is not the end of the story. These other eyeglasses are also painting, therefore: eyeglasses through which one sees other eyeglasses! The gaze is a cipher, a code, an eyeglass prescription, and not “what is seen”. There is only a mimesis of mimesis commanded by the impossibility of final identity. And it is little relevant whether the eyeglasses are black or pink, abstract or figurative, classical or modern… It is necessary to adjust the instrument in order to get a new, polyphonic, polygraphic image of the world: a surprising multitude of worlds which hide and are discovered in one.

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There is no return to painting. Because we have never left it. Modernity did not do it, either. Its escapes from painting were only the flip sides of constant returns! The birth of the sign from the image and of the image from the sign is an event taking place simultaneously in cave paintings, the Sistine Chapel and newsstands. It is not any kind of new progressivism, it is rather the end of all progressivism: a reversibility of sign and image. The abyss of the other, repetition with shifts, with constant redefining, recontextualization, clashes, discharges… with a difference. It tends to deconstruction, to the decentering of “ harmony” in the center of harmony itself. In the center of one’s own artistic peace.

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His understanding of the painting includes making a sign/symbol visible, pictorial, therefore a basis for new transformations, for the creation of another sign/symbol. The creation of a sign is, in its radical gesture, the creation of the other sign. Or: the creation of other eyeglasses. From image to sign and from sign to image: these journeyes are equivalent and interchangeable.

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For him, this process – let’s say – seeing through the other has “philogenetic” and “ontogenetic” dimensions. Fragmentation, quotes, reminders of old letters, excavations, cave painting, Giotto, della Francesca, Klee, Miro (it is a great philogenesis of the visual, this history of objective gazes)… but also his personal, small, history, the ontogenesis: he himself, from the first or second “phase”… At the same time, this is both a “general” and a personal history of the sign. To see through the eyes/eyeglass of another, with the gaze of another (including oneself also as the other). Have we ever looked in a different way?!

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He has found a rather calm way of making his visual “ideology” – pluralist: through the multiple betrayal of classical and modern tendencies, against the background of apparent acceptance, and especially through the betrayal of that exclusivity which marked not only the relationship among these tendencies, but also their nature. Their exclusivism. His paintings, at that, were made either very quickly (being therefore pseudomodern) or very slowly (pseudoclassical).

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The necessity of questioning postmodern axioms belongs to the past. The turn of practice, or, if you wish, wandering, has now come. Movement in all directions is legitimate. Absence of  privileged center. Production of simulacra.

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There is no more promised and guaranteed visual  Sense. Mimesis is a gesture of wandering, definitely devoid of hard, metaphysical reliance-on. What is “imitated”, or better, repeated (“worn”) are eyeglasses, angles of vision, forms of perception. One frame is used to gaze into another one. Picture frames are always in the plural and hidden in the center of the painting, and not at its edges. The canvas is at the same time painting and passe-partout. The decentered frame/place of creation of the painting.

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To be the painter of the unsurveyable: this means to believe in painting which does not tend to its own truth, or “ism”. Which wishes to derogate within it self the very function of isms. Which wishes for the scattering of its own, and every other, gaze, in all directions.

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Without prejudices he testifies to the absence of a hard, inviolable (classical or modern) visual identity which “successfully” hides in itself its screen/eyeglasses, its gazes on the other and through the other. For him, the truth which searches for identity is necessarily subject to scattering and dispersion. In order to prove/paint this, it is necessary to use something akin to a procedure of  “quotation”, “grafting” and “bricolage”, or a “re-elaboration” (= new-old painting). Quotation or re-elaboration – whichever – equally testify to an “identity” obsessed with the unidentical, to a repetition commanded by difference, to a classical/modern dream dreamed through.

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He no longer believes in the originality of the image (in the final instance: image of the world) devoid of eyeglasses. There is no scene without and observer and an eye, which means, in a certain sense, without eyeglasses, too! Without the gaze-other, which we always take upon ourselves, but as a difference, a shift, a decentering, and not as an externally constituted, predetermined identity of the world: still life. The seeing of “things in themselves” or “nature” is not the neutral and original background against which visual mimesis is created. The gaze itself is a kind of primitive, raw visuality. A painting in embryo, in the process of creation. It is dominated by the iterability of vision. The economy of imitation.

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He has lost faith in the totalizing progress of modern art. At the same time, he has not lost faith in the modern gesture, technique, in all that was, and still is, unforgettable in modern painting! This fragmented, decentered repetition of the modern (as well as of the classical) has no dogmatic imperative in the future, no mission, no obligatory direction, no unavoidable progressivism. End of faith in the prow and the predetermined course. All or nearly all routes become possible. Except for, naturally, those which lead us astray on to the path of bad pictures, bad painting.

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                                                                                   Milorad Belančić