” The shell must first be hurt so as to become a pearl, and the one who hurt you once does not know that by doing this they turned you into a work of art.”
Colouristic vegetation of Milutin Obradovic
Milutin Obradovic is above all an artist of exciting artistic expression. His canvases, in their nature carry something essential, passionate and eruptive, an explosive character entirely turned to the primordial life energy. He feels nature with open senses. It is a fatal power dramatically confined to a narrow space. When encountering these works for the first time you only feel that you have come across a colouristic bang which attacked you, encroached and overwhelmed you instantly making you feel conquered and a little bit feeble to take upon yourself such a coloured force. The technique is complex, the knowledge of art is rich and confirmed through experience. This artist possesses intellectual brightness with which he understands the world, but also the courage to rush into the deepest whirlpools of life.
Pondering solely on the technique, craft or painting virtuosity would mean everything else but getting to the point. A moment when both the rational and the words are unable to translate the forms of the artistic language occurs very quickly, because they are, first of all, psychological and then visual phenomena. Any valid conclusion cannot be reached without sense and emotional perception of his canvases. In the titles and the content of his works such as Returned love, Encounter is a boy just like me, Where we have forgotten our halves, Regrets are carefully listened to, Unfaithfulness is faithful to me, Yellow loves are red, And I do not have ordinary wishes and ordinary sins, etc. it is clearly noticeable that the emotion is the primary force of these paintings.
The artist paints a dramatic world, powerful in tension, sonorous in colour. Sometimes it seems that the ultimate problem of his being is to extract a red-hot inner core out of himself. It is an entire arsenal of the most different emotional states. He skillfully finds means and appropriate artistic language for joy, sadness, melancholy and successfully reconciles them with his feelings at that particular moment.
The colour is definitely the primary force, it has freed the nature of this untamed temperament and cleared the way for it, it is a releasing vent which keeps the artist unharmed. It is a colouristic fire which had to break out somewhere in a personal score-settling in the states of high emotional tension. The colours are mature, sonorous and marked, the colours of personal and instinctive states. This colouristic vegetation could only grow out of a well-soaked canvas. The artist is permanently intoxicated with colour, every tone is spiced up and accentuated. The colour moves freely on a painting, comes into being and disappears, springs and sinks underground, encourages rhythm and expression, calms down and provokes conflicts.
It seems that Obradovic paints only when it is 40 degrees Celsius, at noon. This is the art of painting in overripe, August colours which keep this painting organism in the state of tension and overfullness. These are the colours of ripening, intensive radiation, golden confluence, temperature changes, colours of passing summer and early autumn, these fresh colours make you take a deep breath.
Nevertheless, we wonder what is hidden behind this impulse which is followed by the torrent of emotions in its unstoppable development. Beneath this whirled up mass of colours, under the epidermis of a painting, dense matter, there is an area of a personal, sensitive, intimate confession. Although he paints with ease and inspiration, this colouristic relief contains complex paths. Behind this robust form a discreet personal poetry is hidden: countless coloured hills, turned over, irregular, full of sinews and cracks which allow one to glimpse at secrets that hide a completely different nature of this artist. All these reds, greens and yellows travel into an invisible world below where they come from, everything that happens on the surface of the canvas is fed by the underground waters.
The artist tames this wild colouristic mass which threatens to get out of control with long nervous lines. As if these white reins wanted to calm down the temperament and bring down the temperature, to divert the attention from the main events on the surface. His lines are without a stop, long, nervous, persistent, conquering, resolute and daring, precise and movable, they are this painting’s ECG. These are the prints of the same life lines on his palm. This stretched net is nothing else but a skeleton which supports the wild massive body of the painting. The drawing is pliable, precise and shows confidence.
The head of a horse is a dominant, unavoidable motif in all Obradovic’s paintings. It is there to tell as the other side of the story. It is not a horse for a parade whose strength lies in speed, emphasized massiveness and hemoglobin overfillness. It is a taciturn hero, modest, a bit shy, aloof, stooped under the load of colouristic occurrences. His strength lies in an unassuming and reserved wisdom, in silent breathing. His eyes are wise, touched with suffering, big Byzantine endless eyes. His trot is silent, unknown, but it has always been known that in silence we hear the most silent sounds, that only in solitude we come to know and learn the unseen and essential in ourselves. This head is the artist’s self-portrait, it is the Obradovic on his own, in the absence of others, in the silence of some white empty metaphysical room, where windows face the sea horizon, the horizon of underwater solitude. The head of a horse is the artist’s mask, because the artist knows that only under masks and tears one can mature and reach completeness under suffering and pain. It is the reflection of Milutin the man, but also Milutin the boy.
In the midst of all what is happening the horse is standing alone, isolated. He is pondering himself, listening, as if he had a strong desire to communicate its thoughts and experiences, to shout them to itself.
The entire scenography is completed with the childhood decorum. The origin of these dreamy visions should be looked for in Bijelo Polje, the place where the artist was born. Everything that sunk in the artist long time ago, oil paint has brought to the surface. His paintings are a spring of freed memories. It is needless to say how important early childhood and emotional experiences gained in this period are. These experiences turned into memories have become an inexhaustible source of creative inspiration. The artist’s loyalty to his homeland and childhood is unswerving. Today, he looks at the world with a diopter of a child. His surrealism is special, without borrowing others’ thoughts, created only in imagination and out of memories of tall, slim belfries, some unusual winged creatures from his boyhood dreams, chunks of white coasts, elongated shadows of summer holidays, broken windows of an old house, smells of clothes which he wore as a child. Obradovic’s paintings carry romantic quality and ornamentation characteristic of oriental rugs, they resemble a colourful prayer-book on which the Sun kneels.
This no longer existing idyllic world where he was born and raised, is crumbling under the influence of new times. Everything that is new has set the old in a place of honour. The meaning of visions shot through with melancholy and unquenched thirst for the past is annulling the real life, often indifferent and cold. Although it may seem at first sight that these are the pictures of topsy-turvy child thoughts, stirred up atmosphere without a clear order, still there is a lot of sense in all this, everything is there, everything is important and preserved.
The origin of this art should be looked for in the artist’s dual nature. Milutin Obradovic lives life in a fast lane both in reality and on his canvases. His paintings do not acknowledge time in their forming, as if they were created in a moment which lasted as the impulse itself. Milutin is a man of passion, of inflammable word, of fiery temperament. He looks at the world from a boiling state of matter. With a portrait of a horse he suggests the other, distant, shy, lonely, reserved side of his personality, locked in a treasury of his glowing eyes. For Obradovic the art of painting is not a profession but obsession, poetry and the most intimate confession. He does not paint in order to create, but in order to survive as a man.
A SHORT MEDITATION ON MILUTIN OBRADOVIC’S REVERIES
(not obliquely, not sidelong, but straight, right in the eye)
It is like entering a world, selfsufficient and real to itself. It is the world that annuls the aesthetic distance between the one who sees and the one who knows. There is you on the one side, overrated homo faber, narcissistic homo sapiens and expansionist homo technologicus. On the other side, which is the worldcanvas, there is a space towards which you have less and less courage to make a stride. Not because you do not know the meaning of this stride into the space of aesthetic excess but because you are not sure whether you will come back as the person that entered: overrated, unsecure and conceited. If you do not come back as such you will be no longer needed on the side where you came from. So much about the dilemma of the reader-observer. The opus of the painter Milutin Obradovic, the latest, from the period of obsessive insistence on the motif of horse, does not need a selfconfirmation through deconstructive digression on all those little and big truths about the world and the man, which overfill this heterogeneous (and even more and more heterogeneous) poststructuralist environment. This is before everything else and above anything else a completely new matrix which constructs anew a completely fresh vitalistic idea upon which everything that overratedness, narcissism and expansionism have destroyed and deconstructed should be built (again). The conjured world in the work of Milutin Obradovic does not have either the image of philosophicalnational levelling with the rest of the known world or the Munchist repugnance after the realization that man is a wolf to his fellow man.
His work juxtaposes historical narrative both vertical and horizontal with utterly subtle poetic idea of a man as a being who first and foremost likes to play. His horse is not a distillate of psychosocial stir of the atomic era; it is neither a cathartic version of Vemic’s Atlas who holds the world on his epicmythic shoulders nor Degasian residue of impressionistic symbols. Obradovic’s horse symbolises a new deity residing in the sensibility of a child who beautifully naively observes what has left of the world with the eyes wide open. And it has remained just enough to start it all over, differently, and if not prudently at least more beautifully. Obradovic’s horse will never carry a bride followed by the shotguns of tipsy cousins from the clan, it will never walk among the bodies of the dead and wounded in the ludicrous battlefields, nor carry the flag of the one who frenetically calls out a tsar and fatherland. That horse, the child, dijete, dete, dite* as the pointless naming requires, will only observe with its big, clear, awaken eye what has remained of the world. Therefore, in the canvasworld, it is never alone. It is never confined to the expressiveness of the portrait, but it is always the most exposed part of the plan made of the details in behind. And perhaps in the back, there are memories, maybe hopes, possibly even love which author places in a principled manner at the top of his values scale. There is another characteristic of the symbolical potential of the motif of the horse in the works of Milutin Obradovic. Namely, the motif defined in this way does not have the explicit meaning of the sex: it is neither male nor female, which means that it does not have a clear identity nomination based on the activism of Eros’s or Thanatos’ principles. That is why it is the closes to the uniting, synergic force of the cosmic or divine essence. This essence shapes itself or is selfshaped through the eye of a reader-observer, who can do nothing else but hope that there is a space where one can and must step into without reserve.
* The world child in three different dialects spoken in the Balkans
MYSTICAL ALLURE OF MILUTIN OBRADOVIC’S PAINTINGS
“It is like entering a world, selfsufficient and real to itself. It is the world that annuls the aesthetic distance between the one who sees and the one who knows.”
“On the other side, which is the worldcanvas, there is a space towards which you have less and less courage to make a stride.”
Yes, it is a timeless subconscious legend of Bucephalus, a bullheaded horse of Aleksandar Karanovic – the Great. The horse of the other world which carries the horseman through the dream to the fulfilment of the higher dream. You put the collective, the unconscious on the canvas and I admire your paintings which are not paintings, but a genuine meditative prayer. Yes, I am looking at them right now. There is a perfect balance in composition, theme and colour. You have matured in the firework of zenithal multi mysticism. You reached the top. There is nothing better.
I must be honest, I cannot explain it, but I envy you on your healthy approach and original work. Oh no, this is only a different cry of the same pain and clang and charge of freedom. You are a real rarity, a genuine one.
Obviously and undeniably ‘brill’. I do not have the proper vocabulary to describe the energetic attack of your works. There should be a new vocabulary for your paintings. The first thing that leaves an impression on me after the walls of Altamira, a millennial standstill, civilsational standstill up to your opus. Obradovic, it is evident that you were born with this and you render the art of painting as majestic, fulfilled and eruptive.
Fascination with the psychological meanings which pervade the motifs of Milutin Obradovic’s paintings define what makes his work recognizable. The connection between the exotic motifs and the mystic ones, and all this placed in a supernatural world – obvious and deliberate as well as carefully conceived and meticulously made, we can say is an excursion into a magnificent world of dreams filled with surreal and it shows young artist’s sensibility and his affinity for symbolic abstraction and developing visions. At the same time, affinity for various folk sources is noticed in his paintings, including a great deal of simplified images resembling a child’s drawing – archaic motifs which are characteristic of the indigenous people of South America as well as the motifs from traditional crafts of the Balkans and Middle East motifs present on the carpets, those from the countries of Far East – ornamental Saz style known for the compositions of twisting leaves and flowers combined with animals, most commonly birds, horses and dogs.
The motifs we see are completed with the painter’s palette which he uses to create his works and which gives them a special dose of allure and mysticism making the compositions assume a strong structural integrity and render an interesting story which makes an observer certain at some point that a particular part has been shown, but through a further analysis they can be absolutely sure that the artist, after all, has shown some different part, at the far end of the world. The given colours complement each other very well without dividing lines which is why they seem to emerge one from another increasing the mystical allure of Milutin Obradovic’s paintings.
With this cycle of paintings Milutin Obradovic shows a great creative energy and eloquence in the art of painting with a strongly expressed visionary force in a union with poetic and pictorial expression. When it comes to the concepts in painting he creates a work that consistently follows every moment of his life and poetic creating.
His paintings are about light where a horse symbolises power, glory, majesty, supremacy, beauty and faithfulness. Obradovic panes the horse simultaneously and successively connecting the real and the unreal, where the deliberate and the unconscious are mixed, imagination and instinct, he opens up his palette an records some sort of his own stream of consciousness or torrent of emotions. The rhythm of these scenes and their coloured surfaces seems provocative and the atmosphere is between a dream and reality, the present and the past. He creates paintings in a completely distinctive way starting from the seen towards the imaginary. Scenes in these pictures are connected with the dynamics of an object, painted with an array of symbolical marks, more or less readable messages. These messages and symbols are based on ancient and distant cultures (Byzantine, Islamic, Spanish), in this cycle the artist replaces them with the familiar culture of his own region and historical milieu.
The atmosphere and the content of the paintings which is done in minute detail resemble mysterious scenes. They have been painted in earthly tones, from ochre and blue ones to white paintings in fine tone proportion, and have become, as it seems, the identifiable mark of this painter. He also easily manages to maintain the unity of composition in a painting while the virtuosic and sinuous moves make the surface dynamic. This art is a metaphysical projection of some life and it deals with lines which flow like an arabesque with black and white, blue, red and grey linear rhythms which move bend and stretch across the canvas with such energy which we feel that could go on beyond the surface of the painting. He has come up with the concept incredibly rich in content and thus reached almost a poetic vision of silence that takes us into metaphysical space of memories and anticipation. He conquers the surface of the paintings with patient depicting, and when we look at the background there are meaningful and softened forms of a different tonality.
His paintings belong to the domain of lyrical associative abstraction, conceived to be of independent rhythm and playful, they seem monumental, mystical and solemn. Moreover, there are numerous small worlds, paintings are full of hidden meanings, premonitions and mysteries tightly connected in a unique nucleus whose pictorial values and graphics with their layered structure provoke remarkable visual impressions. Resembling some Renaissance paintings created in some artistic archaeology in which we encounter the past times, his paintings have been created with a dense linear repertoire of tone finesse, with virtuosic calligraphy of expressive intonation.
Obradovic creates marvellous paintings but also a rich, dense, full, reallife artistic language, language of love and painter’s passion.
RT SAGA OF PEGASUS AND INSPIRATION
When Milutin Obradovic’s work (Bijelo Polje, 1979) is comprehensively considered, especially examined from different points of view and deeply analyzed, starting from his debutant appearance on Montenegrin art scene in Petrovac (2002), then his presentation in Novi Sad (2004), Budva (2007), Sabac (2008) up to the current exhibition, a conclusion is reached that he has come a long way as a person, and thus, as an artist he has succeeded in a certain way to sublimate, conceptually define and visually articulate his starting creative art visions. After his academic studies in Cetinje, he set out on a journey of no return to an uncertain creative adventure with a quite solid artistic education and significant artistic knowledge. In his first romanticized works, between dreams and the realty, he juxtaposed geometric, stiff shapes with soft and lively forms of anthropological examples, insisting on warm colours and Mediterranean atmosphere in which the light simply dissolved attributive contours. During his creative work, Obradovic has permanently been developing his personal paradigmatics, significantly enlarging the number of protagonists and explicitly enriching the elements of his artistic sights. At the same time, Obradovic has left behind those already tried pointilistic set of rules and started animating the treated surface on the level of facture and building some sort of structuralism in colour. In such constellation, the drawn arabesque, among other things, becomes a lapidary element which coherently connects playful chromatic and oscillatory areas, while the warm and distinctive Mediterranean mood remains the constant of all his works.
Cultural landscape values, in fact, the area where artists were brought up, their home country, and especially numerous traditions they were raised up in, become an unfailing spring from which they keep getting inspired throughout all their working life. Milutin Obradovic belongs to this group of creative people – his grandfather’s stories are stored and banked up deep in his subconscious mind while a special place is given to a powerful and robust man’s friend, which was safely ridden, bravely ridden in battles and on which tyrants paraded around; which pulled both a plough and a harrow, and which, decorated in a particular manner, pulled a wagon with joyful wedding guests. This proud, solemnly decorated Pegasus, this simply, mythical creature anchored itself to many previous but also, to almost all the latest Obradovic’s canvases. Like a magnificent symbol of strength and power, it becomes the fundamental carrier of all his compositions whether it is only about a noble physiognomy of its head, strong jaws, sensual nostrils, sensitive eyes, or the entire body of great strength. On this extremely inspiring, bent form of the neck and elongated scull which occupies two thirds of the treated surface, Obradovic permanently writes, records countless intimate stories and his own states of intense emotions by painting and drawing. He simply has the same burning need which his grandfather used to have, to create with a powerful energetic potential and with the help of various biological and zoomorphic symbols the most miraculous, personal saga of love, suffering, longing and restlessness.
When distinguishing his current painting technique, actually, while analyzing Obradovic’s technical and technological method, several rather characteristic phases are noticeable. On a previously prepared linen canvas, Obradovic applies a fast drying neutral modeling paste in order to plastically liven the treated surface. After a short drying he intensively layers it with colours –chromatic liquid gelatin, which he later partially removes from the surface with a spatula. On this rustic and chromatic foundation, led by numerous associative contents but also intuitivereflexive motivation, Obradovic skillfully paints a diverse symbolic assemblage. There are numerous avian, piscine, floral and other exemplars as well as those of leaves, fruit and vegetables and alphanumeric signs and jagged ornamentation. Moreover, there are individual, solitary and, on the other hand, paired or entwined humanoid and zoomorphic miniature figures in some kind of humananimal communication. One can simply sense some kind of narration, secret recounting or mysterious storytelling. Obradovic permanently does chromatic enriching of all his magnificent scenes both by partial printing and stunning painting. The entire register of warm tones is used, the atmosphere is mature, and only individual, sharp and cold chords from time to time make a deep and contrapuntal sound. All the explicates of this current, explicitly figurative and romanticized display are baroquely exuberant almost to a crescendo. Every single scene reflects on its own an enormous amount of powerful energetic charge. Obradovic skillfully presents a truly richly painted, practically embellished central substratum mostly on a brighter background, but those on the darker one seem powerful as well. All in all, Milutin Obradovic’s recent work in the art of painting is undoubtedly on an upward trajectory, and it should be expected that it will transform in phases, logically flow and have further positive development.
The proven facts, tangible objects, physical experiences, sensual perception, the nature that is close to us, the living space, in short, everyday reality as the prevailing aspect of being in the world, is inevitable in man’s life, which sets us the coordinates and vectors of basic action and mutual relations. At the same time, each person faces another immaterial and unpredictable dimension of his being, with dreams, fantasy, unconscious spectrum of aspirations, imagination and trauma that escape his rational control. The crossings of irrationality, illusion and mental construction often find its privileged ground in artistic discourse, regardless of whether it articulates in literary, musical or visual form. Since this can be interpreted in many different ways, the visual language is particularly exposed, because for centuries it had represented the vision beyond the empirical perception of reality, the visions where the artist’s imagination was relived to feed itself and from the depth of memory and feelings revealed by states the labyrinths of the unpronounceable.
In the paintings of Milutin Obradović we meet with the imaginary, beyond the borders of the illusionist projections of bodies and objects, their usual recognizability and banality, their traditional symbolic meanings, interactions and associative relations are also questioned. Looking at Obradović’s works and identifying certain allusive fragments as parts of more complex entities, it seems to us that the ways and contexts of their appearance are arbitrary, even in obvious contradiction with the basic patterns of logical perception. It seems that the painter wants to establish his own order, which is not a transposition of natural relations between things in material reality, because it appears and at the same time disappears with the psychic stream, that always escapes control, the will of the mind and the harmony of space and time. Obradovic emphasizes the dichotomy of these two entities also with the simultaneous use of the contradictory visual allocations, figurative and abstract: the mimetic elements interweave with symbols, dynamic linear structures together with the associative parts of particular compositions create the feeling of horror vacui, the picture plane is extremely saturated, the chaotic effect grows, the gaze is confused while trying to find its way through the labyrinth of color traces, searching for the punctum, the relevant point of encrypted narration.
But what does Obradović encode? In his paintings, we often recognize the head of a horse with a wavy hair, as well as flowers and wide-open eyes, both animal and human, all of which can be understood in terms of their symbolic meanings within different cultures. The horse in ancient mythology is a symbol of the sun, in the Renaissance art is a symbol of lust, in Jung’s psychoanalysis represents the unconscious, the memory of the world that defeats the chthonic forces; the flower incorporates the passive principle, femininity, but is also, the archetypal image of the soul, the spiritual center, while the eye is the organ of discovering, intellectual perception, and at the same time the exteriorization of the inner vision, the look with the heart. The use of these symbols is sometimes deliberate, and even more often instinctive, because in representative contexts they appear as parallels, puzzle elements, games of chance in dream constellations. In Obradović’s paintings we find – more than archetypal or hidden symbolism – their energy charge, the violence of conquering the picture surface, that in some images seems to be too small to absorb all what the artist imagined: narrative and chromatic saturation are dialectically intertwined in the creative ecstasy, and as a thesis and antithesis generate the synthetic coexistence of their semantic contradictions and morphological unpredictability. From this point, the viewer, is essentially excited by the hybrid nature of the images, their always changing identification hints which keep him uncertain about the type of message actually encoded in them.
If we accept the definition that; the painting is the ruin that is being built, it certainly applies to Obradovic’s works. Their structural dispositions are constantly on the verge of collapse, but the painter always finds something to support them, introduces a new sign in the composition or indicates a constructive transition to another dimension with a dynamic brush stroke. Thequestion of form first appears on the level of deconstruction of the perspective paradigm, as canonized in the Renaissance, in order to return to the reversed perspective as known from the Byzantine tradition, or even more obviously, to the archaic flatness of iconic type, where modeling, giving the illusion of bodyness, is reduced to minimum, without the hierarchy of plans, everything is on the same level, the backgrounds are semantically irrelevant, most often they are just a chromatic counterpoint to syntactical playing on signifying registers. The questioning why are things such and not different, originate from ancient myths about creation, about original sin and expulsion from paradise, has long been a topic of philosophical and artistic issues, analyzed today in modern anthropology which again realizes that it is inexplicable, that is, its truth is relative, depending on reference circumstances and hermeneutical approaches. Milutin Obradović tries to explain with painterly means how he sees it, leaving the viewers to find their own answers in the stratification of various images. Far from the cold diagnosis of a Dali or Bosch’s phantasmagoric descriptiveness, a microcosm of figures and moves arises, introducing us into the harmony of light and darkness as the complementary parts of the genesis of the visible. Obradović’s strategies of representation is hybrid-in their orientation toward the intermediary state of consciousness of reality, before this reality is materialized.