Gordan Nikolic

Plastic poems 

Former definitions of the origins, as well as the interpretations of the meanings of Gordan Nikolic s pain.tings-draivings, followed the sharp wake ofhis original creative intentions. At the beginning of his voluminous and continual cycle, there was in fact a certain photograph ofthepop-culture so characteristic of his generation, particularly rock music (as established by B. Buric in 1985). This primal formative scene of Gordan Nikolic – the mask, constilutes the thematic background of his overall creative work, a long-lasting work in progress (J, Denegri, 1994), exactly according to the well-known diuision to ftgural/figurative for the pourpose of constituting a pseudo-objective visual state. His status ofan absolute master of rhythm (Lj. Gligorijevic, 1993)puts him in direct relationship to the.pion.eers of gestural painting from the 1950$, and thuspoinls diretly to his method of re-constructing a fully defined pictorial quality ofhis works. 

But this principle of Nietzschean perpetual repetition today must unavoidably (in the practice of the present day artists) be corrected in its basic, methodic stratum, easily determined as a repetition with alterations. This aesthetic principle, so characteristic ofthe recent art, is crucial in differentiating the inherent poetics of the time from other simultaneous processes. Toward the end of this period, which is in a way a specific summary within the main artistic phenomena of the new episode, and the preceding phases of Modernism as well, it almost becomes euident that everjthing is both continual and alterable. This duplicity of aesthetic ualues in contemporary art can be observed in nearly all individual examples ofits main stream. 

Lyrical abstract art was formulated, in practice and in theory, toward the end of the 1950s. The phenomenology of this painting rests on a discharge of psychological improvisations in a swift process of gestural movement over the surface of the canvas. Such unconscious, motoric strokes made the well-known coloristic arabesques in the very interspace between painting and drawing. By observing the structural contents of the new paintings-drawings of Gordan Nikolic, aformal analysis could yield almost identical conclusions, which would then connect the artist with the classical style oflyrical abstract art. 

If one took as the initial matrix of the altered interpretation the structuralistic postulate by which a poem is a verbal icon, and if one applied this to the visual arts, one could make an analogous statement that a painting is a visual poem. I am inclined to believe that the overall aesthetics of the lyrical abstract art could be reduced to such a definition. 

The methods recently developed by Gordan Nikolic, also in a big cycle of paintings-draivings, in the semiological sense follow the idea of reductionism, of contracting a scene to a sign. Therefore the potential deftnition of a painting as a visual poem should in this case be supplemented by the notion of its contraction, its deconstruction and the frugal use of its means, which lead directly to its meaning, like in a compact haiku poem. Although the artist possesses great energy which matches the stamina of his physique, exemplified in an enormous production of works within a short period of time, one should, nevertheless, bear in mind that each of the paintings-drawings has several layers of the basic color in order to be invested with ever new visual meanings. Gordan Nikolic has recently introduced in the scene a compressed pictorial field reduced to a basic plastic sign, to a lapidary form whose contents are closed within an elemental structure, and the meaning is open to numerous individual interpretations. This kind of an interpretation of the interpretation, this semiology of the pictorial state of an object of art, confirms that here we have a case of non-projective painting, again opposed to its historical examples of lyrical abstract art and gestural painting which are expressiuely projective in the main stream of the familiar spirit of Modernism from the 1950s. 

Deconstruction of apictorial scene, as a speciftcally inversive procedure in relation to the strategy of the precursors used as models – patterns when the pictorial quality was attained through a lasting process of constructing and reconstructing, lies in the process of the reading of a visual text and is simultaneously a strategic discipline which tries, within its own medium (the language movement – text, or writing), to find and establish those aesthetic elements that are by definition formative, primal and fundamental. In this case they are not the final issues of aprccess of paining but an initial state, so thus, and therefore, they stand at the opposite end of their original stylistic configurations. From this standpoint, one could conclude that the twentieth century Modernism has finally run a full circle, in fact, a spiral curve because one knows that art has, in each of its stylistic formations, in its alterations and repetitions, raised its own textual contents to a higher level, and now, in the era of the postmodern paradigm, it begins its backward movement as if trying to use certain minds to read just to the already determined inventory transferred like a legacy to this final moment of ultimate, decisive determination ofthe elements which constitute the language of its medium. Twentieth century art history is in fact the history of those strategies and methods that construct and deconstruct the very text – the pictorial language of visual modelling. 

Jovan Despotovic 

Gallery Zepter, Belgrade, 1996