Rajko Popivoda

As compared with his early sculptures, the latest works of Rajko Popivoda, reliefs, objects and constructions, have undergone a visible transformation, they are somewhat stronger in form and there has been a mild correction in the domain of meaning and content. For a moment, we recall Popivoda’s earlier works — »the cages«, made from black plaster which heralded a plastic-constructive comprehension o£ sculpture which, already then, hinted an energetic inception of an authentic personalized and imaginative world of rich symbolic meaning. The author’s individual experiences, his states and psychological projections were materialized, at the time, through sculptures-objects to a general plane which invited a certain fear and anxiety, a palpable internal frustration of corporal and spiritual constraint, mildly toned by Popivoda’s ironic commentary with a touch of an unusual mockery of that universal spiritual state.

The works on show today continue to insist on similar experiences with a completely different, plastic and constructive interpretation. These space objects and wall installations in two colours, black and golden ocre, and two materials, trivial plaster lined with cloth and noble, polished bronze and brass whose contrast conjures Popivoda’s need to reveal curbed, hidden conflicts in their full splendour and the solemn glow of his consecrated objects.

The illusion of the puzzle of these spiritual labyrinths, the multitude of eyes that see all, individual bodily impressions and traces of work, the multitude of gynaecomorhous miniatures arranged in »golden« cages, alienated spaces in which they are chaotically settled and from which they lifelessly stare, prompt a certain anxiety the uneasiness of a true individual comment which coincides with the general external traits of the times. Of course, Rajko Popivoda does not directly comment on these outside characteristics, but he materializes them and transforms them by symbolic means adding quite a lot of his own cynicism and the absurd standpoint of observation. If he previously provided evidence that we were individually confined in ideological, spiritual and corporal cages that are firmly set around us and which most frequently determine our own errors and prejudices, now we suddenly begin to be aware that those boundaries are in fact internal ones, that they represent our overall limitations and shortcomings rooted in the depths of our consciousness, feelings and conceptions.

For Rajko Popivoda, sculpturing is a material, artefactual activity which inevitably leads to the creation of physical objects, but the ultimate objects are also visions, i.e. visual metaphors imbued with many empirical facts. Their rich narativeness, sometimes of simple and sometimes of complex meaning, materialness that has been given spirit, an almost surrealistic picturesqueness orient our associations towards distant worlds of collective memories and universal states.

Rajko Popivoda continues to remain aloof of characteristic plastic and stylistic formations of the art of the eighties. Although he belongs to the most topical creative transformations by the time of his creative maturity and his generation, Popivoda has only slightly touched the spirit of such times, concentrating on the demands of a little more traditional and stable judgement in sculpturing. Of course, he does not shrink from clearly displaying the stand that today’s artists view as more significant responsibility tovvards the creative act, towards the internal dictates of the language of forms, than towards some general characteristics of recent iconography and the current period’s art of new visions. Observed in that light, the work of Rajko Popivoda occupies a recognizable place in contemporary Serbian sculpturing which the young generation of artists has continued to nurture. The authenticity of the visual language, its consistent definition and symbolic profile in the works of Rajko Popivoda mark a separate individual position in the array of various creative conceptions of our contemporary art. 

Jovan Despotovic 

Gallery of Museum of contemporary art, Belgrade, 1988