Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Importance of role models

Anima the Dreadful (Conan) - Oil on wooden board, 70X50 cm, 2015. Private commission.


Back in the eighties, when I was studying art at the Novi Sad Art Academy in Serbia, we had a teacher of Art History, an elderly lady who told us that, once in her youth, she had met Picasso, and even had got from him one of his famous painted vases as a present. She mentioned this little anecdote often, and not without a certain amount of pride and self-contentment. This little lady used to say:  “No one is born without a mother and a father”. The message of her saying was obvious -  every person, creator and artist, has his own roots, his creative parents, his springboard. We all had teachers, mentors and role models at the beginning of our art career who helped us and showed us the way, motivated and inspired us. Nothing comes out of nothing! As human animals, we begin the process of learning by mimicking others from our surroundings.

People often asked me how, or where, did I learn to paint. Well, as mentioned above, I did study painting at the art academy, but although the time I spent there was not wasted – on the contrary, it was extremely important for my artistic development -  I can’t say that I have learned how to paint there. The prevailing approach to art and painting at that time was still very much based on and driven by the modernistic dogma that favored free expression above the technical skills. Therefore we were not encouraged to spend time and energy on learning the technical aspect of painting, but rather to open ourselves to free expression. Focusing on learning and developing the technical skills was not exactly prohibited, but many did look upon it with a contemptuous eye. 

I learned to paint mostly by studying the works of my favorite artists, my role models, and by trying to learn from what I was able to see and understand. Some of my most important role models included Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Gerard ter Borch,  Ilya, Repin, Paja Jovanvic, Uros Predic, John Singer Sargent, Viktor Vasnetsov, Ivan Bilibin, Aksely Gallen-Kallela, Walt Disney, Arthum Rackham, Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, Alan Lee, among many others. 

Conan by Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta


When I was about 12 years old, I began spending more time on drawing. I copied works of various artists, mainly comic artists ( I was at that time very much into comic art, and wanted to become a comic artist). My mother used to drive me crazy by criticizing my urge to copy other artist’s work. She would say: “You copy too much! Why don’t you try to do something out your own imagination”? Her remarks were disturbing to me and have often hurt my feelings (hence I never forgot about it). It was frustrating. On one hand, I knew she was right. On the other, I felt I had to copy in order to learn. I was so unsatisfied with what I could do from my own imagination. I did not like very much the results - my own drawings seemed to be so imperfect, lacking in all sorts of things and qualities. The  copies of other people’s work which I did looked much better, more convincing and mature. Little did my mother knew  that I would later become quite myself and unique in my artistic expression. Somehow I managed to escape a dangerous trap of becoming somebody else’s epigone. I don’t know when, or how it happened, but it did happen – gradually I found myself. Moreover, I even became a kind of “preacher” of the importance of going after your own uniqueness, and becoming utterly yourself in your artistic expression.

However, I never forgot my role models. From time to time, I revisit their art in search of inspiration, motivation and consolation. Sometimes, I do cite them in my own work, or, now and then, even paint a homage to some of them. But I never copy their work anymore. I just allow myself to be inspired by their creations, but then let this impulse go through my own artistic inner prism, and try to create something uniquely mine…. as much as I am able to.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Symbols, Archetypes, Metaphors



St. George Killing the Dragon - 63X50 cm, oil on MDF board, Private commission, 2016.

There is one particular subject matter that has kept me quite busy for the past few years, which is  the importance, or the relevance, of mythological symbols, archetypes and metaphors in Art and Life today. It is quite obvious that we live in very turbulent times; times marked by many changes -  some of which are quite fundamental and dramatic - times that are characterized by a process called demythologization of life and society.

An important question that is presenting itself today is: except for the purpose of entertainment, can mythology still be relevant to our lives? The answer is - of course it can! Moreover, it is needed today as much as before, and perhaps even more today than before because we have lost our collective myth (I am generally referring to the modern western society in particular). 

Rapid scientific and technological developments and the subsequent changes it brought into the world, have made some of the basic functions of mythology quite irrelevant (according to Joseph Campbell there are 4 functions of mythology). Especially its second, the cosmological function has become outdated. The first, metaphysical function of mythology seems to have lost the battle against our rationalism and materialistic approach to life. It’s third, sociological function is now mainly controlled and governed by the various secular state institutions. It seems that only the fourth function of mythology, the  psychological one, is still pretty much alive. In other words, the way to make mythology still relevant and practically worthwhile to our lives is through psychology. 

Why psychology? Simply because the world of mythology is not some kind of a fantastic, imaginary external realm reserved only for Gods and other mythological creatures, and therefore inaccessible to human beings. On the contrary! Mythology basically reflects the stages in the development of the human psyche. Man has created the mythology - or better said it arose  spontaneously from deep within him, from the unconscious (according to some scholars) - and, now, this mythology tells about him, his condition and his journey. 


The psychology  offers a prism that enable us to "break", interpret and better understand the hidden meaning of symbols and metaphors that make up the language of mythology. There is no better way to express the fundamental truths about man and the existence but through the metaphors. Things change their outer appearance through times, but their essence stays the same. One of the main characteristics of these universal preconditions of existence is that they cannot be appropriately expressed through words, for they greatly transcend the language and its cultural and social limitations – sometimes they even transcend the intellect itself. The use of right (living) symbols, archetypes and metaphors is proven to be the best solution to this problem. However, being as  dynamic and as elusive as the very phenomena they are referring to, these symbolic interpretations are not the ultimate solution, for there is no ultimate solution to this problem, no final answer to the fundamental questions of existence, only temporal indications, for Life is fluid, and the Self is incomprehensible. Still we don't have a better way to express the inexpressible but through the mythological symbols, and archetypes – the metaphors. 

So, the metaphors are not supposed to be taken literally - they are no facts, they are just metaphors. They are no lies either, they are metaphors. They do not try to define, nor to describe, but to indicate the existence of these illusive fundamental principles of our existence, and to inspire a birth of a certain notion in the mind and the heart of men, so that we can develop a clearer and more comprehensive vision and attain enrichment and realization. They offer a necessary support to our psyche, and help us create a solid ground under our feet. 


Therefore, our own imagination and intuition plays a crucial part in this process. Because in its very nature, all of this is both individual and collective, there is no universal formula that can show us how to deal with our own symbolic life. There are only indications, “guideposts”, inspiration and the great mystery of Life, and the Self.
  
However, it is through these symbols that our deeper Self tries to communicate important message to our conscious part. This often happens in our dreams and fantasies. Ignoring and doing nothing about the message presented by the symbols that spontaneously arise from the unconscious leads almost certainly to some type of neurosis. That is why our intellect, from a certain point on, has very little to say about these processes, except, of course, for the subsequent and important work of integration of the suppressed contents from the unconscious (often indicated by the symbolic meaning of the metaphors) into the conscious life.


Well, that would be all for now. I would like to end this entry with some unsolicited advice especially to those who found this article inspiring:
  
1 - cherish your imagination and intuition, for Life is a miracle, and true Art, being one of the most genuine emanations of that mystery, is a miracle too. 
2 – read and educate yourself so that you can have a better understanding of the symbols that you use, or that spontaneously appear in your art.
3 -  meditate for a while on the following quotation: “When Intellect comes in, Art goes out.” – Harvey Dunn.

Have a good day!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

St. George drawing


"St. George" , pencils on paper. A preliminary drawing for a new painting.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Anima the Dreadful


Oil on wooden board, 70X50 cm, 2015. Private commission.
 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Circe and the Odysseus' Pigs

Oil on MDF board, 70X50 cm, private commission.                         



 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Prince Marko and the Fairy

Prince Marko and the Fairy, Oil on MDF board, 100X70 cm. Private commission.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Book of Giants


The Book of Giants is about to hit the wider market. So, here are some options for ordering the book.

The book can be ordered through the publisher’s website, Flesk Publications. Flesk is the only place where you can purchase the Deluxe Edition!!
http://fleskpublications.com/flesksite/


Or you can order through amazon.com
 
Some options for people from other parts of Europe are:
amazon.com.uk; amazon.de; amazon.fr

bookdepository.com is always an option because of the free delivery worldwide.

If you are from Serbia I think the cheapest option for you might be Book Depository
Ako ste iz Srbije mislim da bi najpovoljnije bilo naruciti knjigu preko Book Depository

I hope you will enjoy the book.
Thank you!