Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not all giants are ugly!

“Are all giants ugly? This question has been tormenting  me for some time. According to my wife, I have been waking up in the middle of the night, bathing in sweat , and shouting “Yes”, or “No”, depending on the answer that prevailed in my dreams that night, I guess. This torture went on for months,  until the last Sunday afternoon when I finally found the right answer to this crucial question. In the far corner of my mind, where the remnants of the mythological mind still exist, I found a sample of the giant’s race that could be considered as pretty. A funny looking fellow of the considerable proportions, who was aware of his “prettiness”, which is a bit unusual behavior for a giant, for they think that when one is big and strong, one does not have to be pretty or clever.  He also had a good feeling for esthetics and detail, the characteristics quite alien to the giant’s mentality. The little skull-button on his collar testifies to that…”
(from the unwritten and unpublished book Giants – the purpose of their existence and their function in the modern-neoliberal-consumers' society.)

Just pulling your leg!…I have no problems or nightmares in connection with giants whatsoever. There is no book with that silly title either (at least not yet!).
The drawing from above was done in one of the copies of the Serbian edition of Steel Bashaw. A client purchased a copy of the book on my website, and also commissioned me to do a detailed drawing in it.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the Serbian edition of Steel Bashaw with a detailed drawing, please contact me through my email and we will discuss the price and the details of the commission. I still have about 12 copies left in stock.
As for the giants, and without kidding this time – “ The giants are one of my favorite subjects. They are wonderfully grotesque, and I like to draw and paint grotesque things. They are extremely inspiring as a form, as well as a content. In their appearance they are such a good reminder of the inevitability of transience and the deterioration in life. The people who are lucky to reach the old age will eventually become a kind of giants themselves. Well, certainly not in size, but in the physical appearance; big nose and ears, mouth without teeth, bent posture, often grumpy in attitude and with that worn out expression in their watery eyes…sad on one hand, grotesque on the other.
To give my giants the right character and to make them appear more realistic, in a certain way, I have searched for the inspiration among the old people, beggars, drunkards and even the mentally handicapped persons.”
These lines are taken from the bonus section of the US edition of Steel Bashaw. The funny thing is that, when James Gurney posted the information about the publication of this US edition on his blog, beside some nice comments about the illustrations, he also referred to the last paragraph from the text from above. Some people, who left a comment, made a kind of fuss about that, accusing me of not being sensitive enough and being disrespectful towards the old and misfortunate people that I used as the inspiration for my giants. According to them, it was not “politically correct” to treat the less fortunate members of the community in the way I did. Upon reading these comments I was a bit shocked, especially because I never thought of making these old or unfortunate people ridiculous. On the contrary, in my opinion I showed the respect by paying the attention to them, in my own way. Fortunately James came to my rescue, kindly and intelligently, by on one side showing the understanding for the opinion of the politically correct “critics”, but at the same time stressing the importance of the artistic freedom. Some other guys who also defended my approach noted that it is not unusual for an artist to search for the inspiration among the weak and the fragile members of the society.

Well, as for the political correctness and Art - we know that this marriage is an unfortunate one, doomed to fail, sooner or later. Think of the 20st century Soviet Art, so called Social-Realism, and the things that happened to those unfortunate artists  who have not been sufficiently politically correct in their artistic expression.
More samples of not politically correct art… 



  1. Petar - I think what we are talking about here is caricature and that is a very old drawing style practiced by all the great artists including Leonardo and Michelangelo. If you like drawing people of course you are going to exaggerate them and play around with design variations. Perhaps those that believe in political correctness would have us only drawing happy faces.

  2. Looking at the faces of the giants is like looking at a mountain or an old tree: There's so much more to see than in the more idealized, smoothed-out faces you see in a lot of images. One thing I love about these drawings, Petar, is that they make me slow down my eyes, encouraging me to take more time to notice all that is there. I am reminded to take more time and care to notice everything around me.

  3. I despise this Playboy mentality with its craving for smooth, soulless plastic-like bodies. Who's to say that "civilized" Westerners are more fortunate and happy? I think most of peoples living in pristine traditional societies would laugh at that notion. Some of your drawings remind me of Indian ascetics with their weathered faces. They are such beautiful people, their indomitable life force blazing through their eyes.

    Keep up your good work, Petar! Never mind the political correctness.

  4. Without the grotesque there is no beauty. An artist, such as yourself, should portray all aspects of life. There will always be people with negative things to say, but don't let it bother you in the least. There are those of us that fully appreciate your work.

  5. Larry – You are right! Often when drawing people I feel the need to exaggerate their features, the “bumps” and curves on their faces. Let us be honest – all we are, in one or another way, a caricature of some kind…And, to realize that can be painful…

    Jeroen – Helaas, op dit moment geef ik geen lessen. (Unfortunately, at this moment I do not give lessons.)

    Stephen – You’ve said it beautifully! As an artist I could not wish for more than what I got through your comment. To make (help) people see things around them in another way, is perhaps one of the most important aims of art, if not the most important. To know that your art has made such an impact on another person, is the greatest compliment you can get as an artist. For when it comes to great art, it is all about the shifting of the boundaries, or the raise of the level of awareness - This is my strong conviction…Thank you, Stephen!

    Aljoša – Also a beautiful and certainly thought provoking comment. I am, too, often intrigued by the huge difference between the rough, weather-beaten faces of some people (Indian ascetics are a good example), and the vitality of their inner energy, the pulse of life within. Remarkable, indeed. I guess that is one of the reasons that I like to draw and paint grotesque things, the giants in particular. Thank you, Aljoša!

    Lefteris – wisely spoken! An artist is making his art for himself and others. Art itself can only exist if there is a kind of interaction between those two. It is not easy to deal with critique, but at the same time a wise person would not pay too much attention to it. He would hear it, think about it, make his conclusions and then go further his own way…Easier said than done. It’s an important lesson from the art of living, right? Anyway, thank you very much for leaving your comment, Lefteris.

  6. I love your work its just wonderful.

    Debie x

  7. You, your work and your book a something of a legend in the art world. The way your sketches exaggerate and reshape human features takes a great knowledge of anatomy and human form. It is only in understanding the figure that you are able to manipulate it so convincingly. I can only begin to imagine the lifetime of dedication that required - so thank you for sharing your talent and passion.

  8. Hi Wren – Upon reading your comment, my wife remarked: This person understands…!
    Needless to say, I agree to her observation completely.
    Thank you very much for your kind words, Wren!

  9. Great article! I had no special relationship to giants in the first place. but this was really interesting