Painting with Nature

Đorđe Stanojević’s art exploits those potentials of the humanistic

and utopian heritage of Moderne Art which attempt to reconcile in

different ways the antagonisms created in the relationship between

nature and culture. Syntagmas painting like nature or painting with

nature assume a confrontation with the core of these forces and

their intersections in an attempt to establish a new delicate order

of balance.

 

Based on the artist’s initial experience with Nature, it seems that

this artwork, in its beginning, reflected a kind of instinctive and

tempestuous youthful rejection of the omnipresent corruption of the

advertizing industry and culture of consumerism the artist directly

works for. Initially, it is possible to understand these processes of

reconciliation with nature as a kind of reaction to the “other side” of

culture and its protocols as well as a form of escapism from that kind

of (non-)culture that “petrifies” the vital processes of a community.

However, in time, only when the artist appropriated the experience

of direct cohabitation with nature was he able to achieve a more

authentic connection with an alternative culture of work, tentatively

uncorrupted and an open structure of artwork. The artist only

gradually developed his major idea around the “energy of artwork”

– in this specific case an art object that is constructed around the

rudimentary material of earth and the procedures related to the

creative practice and ergonomics of the land.

 

At first glance, and according to the artist’s own interpretation, the

impact of Joseph Beuys, the apologist of the healing power of matter

and the founder of the idea of Social Sculpture in art, on his work

is understandable. However, because Stanojević’s art never reaches

the threshold of socially or politically engaged art, it may seem that

post WW2 avant-garde movements such as the Italian arte povere

influenced his art to a grater extent, especially the work of Giuseppe

Penone – who actively reflected in the past decades on the dialectics

between nature and culture and insisted on the work-in-progress

concept doing so in the context of evocating the primordial power of

the telluric or the magical in art.

 

Conceptually this art is organized around a few basic procedures

which can, for this occasion, be named as “painting with earth”. By

approaching actions of creative practice of a given circumstances and

the time of earth – the phenomena of active time spent working with

earth and the earth meditation that inspired so many philosophies, in

this particular case – the work of the artist in the studio corresponds

to the daily activity of a worker or peasant cultivating the soil. The

gradual abolition of the vertical plane on the painting positioned on

an easel on account of the horizontal one and integrating the earth’s

material, its rudimentary elements like: the soil, mud, excrement,

chaff or iodine – creates a concept of an artwork series of newly

created paintings-objects functioning as cartographic diagrams of

earth and its history or a geology of the pictorial matter that subtly

thematizes each individual existentialist experience. By interposing

manufactured tools in his ground arrangements as objets trouvés

the artist poetizes the connection with the vanished pre-industrial

cultures recreating the life of a community organized around

harmonized ergonomic structures in an almost palpable way.

 

A parallel evocation of the energy of vital processes such as:

fertilization, growth, harmony, erosion or fossilization – thematizes

subtly in Stanojević’s works the apologetics of the telluric together

with the idea of human existence. Although the anonymous living

matter of earth shares this fate of the time of earth and resistance

of matter, traces of lost cultures and their activity - it however has

its place in the artist’s work as a vital counterpoint to the cultural

vestiges. In his attempt to overcome the dichotomy between

culture and nature, manufactured production and biological

growth, Stanojević creates a kind of utopian projection of a world

in which man’s trace in nature would accept the formal organization

of living matter. Or maybe it is the other way round: this utopia

would evoke earth’s living matter, always in a process of renewal,

through the most unusual biological and geological formations of

initial growth – ascending, uncontrolled upward growth, rotation,

spiral or crystal formations, fossilization – gestures that seem to be

obeying the implicit rules of an inner order recreating the measure

of existentialist opposition or instinctively following instructions of

transcendental geometry.

 

The artist establishes, by a creative revival of working with earth, a

meta-language that reveals hidden procedures of activity in nature

and constantly connects them with the processes of his own growth

or the growth of the anticipated social utopia. Stanojević insists

more on the creative process than on the object itself thus creating

not just one being but one becoming. Our notion of the world

and space is sensitized by contact, creative activity, imbuement

of elements of the initial order of nature and man’s intervention,

organic rapid growth and the controlled activity of the hands that

passes through all strata of the earth and its history, through traces

of resistance to matter and its civilization heritage. Space itself,

always redefined by a new exhibition, is brought to life in the context

of the artwork’s open structure - an imaginary archeological site of

magically entwined human gestures within this sensitive balance of

coexistence between nature and culture.