Milena Jefric Niceva Kostic – Paintings and installations

Even though Milena Jeftić Ničeva Kostič’s latest plastic interests seem to be inspired by the spirit of the present Return to Painting, characteristic for the eighties, they are basically a direct continuation of some of her earlier artistic convictions. Namely, right from the beginning of work, Nićeva has been interested in the surfsce structure of a work, in the first place in its material moulding which apart from the visibile variety seen over the years, has remained a permanent characteristic. 

At the beginning of the eighties Milena created unusual artistic performances, which though they were spiritually familiar in the figurative-poetic expression of the Belgrade circle at the time, were in fact due to her interest in materials, in the structure of a painting, in a manner that was directly reminescent of her costume designing activities during this first period of creativity. It was clear then through certain elements of such work, that her palnting was organized according to the laws of »genre« scenes; a continulty in defining such figurative compositions soon brought about ths beginning of a entirely new stylistic expression. The basic precepts of structure were still combinations of optical phenotnena with ever present textile design contents, undertstandable considering the author’s creative inspiration. But, since we are now dealing with a kind of »pure« peinting, all problems within the work are solved through the use of one artistic element – colour. Through the specific use of her palette, Ničeva models the composition, she complies with the needs set down by the subject (most often animals, whose fur is a specific pattern), colour is in itself the context of the painting, chromatic contrasts enliven the flatness of the palette in such a way as so effect visible optical sensations which in reality do not exist. 

Our attempts at a clear perception are disturbed when we attempt to recognize subjects, and this is trought about by the artist’s desire to stimulate our attenticn, to achieve a higher degree of concentration or directed attention. Perception is made more difficult by a specific placing of the scane which is divided into two planes, so that we are brought to our goal by recognizing the specific »patterning« intervention, or rather, a special kind of op-art with unusual colour rang. Both in its formal layout and in the general impression it exudes, this painting is close to some of the solutions oi so called Pattern Painting. 

From these two ways of building up a painting’s scene, Milena Ničeva has brought off a new series of works during the last few years. Now we are offered »Wheat« which at first glance fortns an unorganized whole, but which nevertheless, follows the strict laws of gestalt, or rather, perception of form. Along with paintings in this latest stylistic series, Ničeva has developed a specific mise en scene in her work, into which she has introduced environment elements, and to the percept of her work she has adiled real space. while the general phantasmagoria of the scene has been uplifted through the use of some non-airtistic elements. In this way Milena Jeftić Ničeva Kostić has come full circle in her interests, beginning with the problem of material organization of a work, through visual experiments, to an artificial scenicness with complex allusions and humorous characteristics. These last works are in fact, a final conclusion of her entire creative comittment. 

Jovan   Despotovic 

Contemporary Gallery – Zrenjanin, Zrenjanin, 1986