Miodrag Ristic – The spatial image

The whole chapter in the art of the twentieth century is determined by the well known artistic principle whereby the life of the object begins with the first stroke of the paint across the canvas, before even it takes any particular, determined form. This principle was generated during the era of Impressionism and was concinously developed into different schools, which, in their turn, evolved into the Abstract art. Nowdays, it is possible to observe in the work of some contemporary artists the manifestations of the above artistic principle coupled with the experience gained through practical, fast happenings in platics during this recent period. 

For the past decade, which is the period of his introduction, as well as the involvment in the artistic world, though not particulary profilic, Miodrag Ristic has entirely dedicated himself and his art to the one single problem: how, on the one hand, to be able to define his own poetic expression while remaining true to the imperative of the authentic and specific creation of the painter’s object, and, on the other hand, to explore and question the very same principle, which had been stated at the beginning of the work. This retrospective, which selects a small number of Ristic’s work, unveils the intention to formulate a whole visual event comprising of the two, equally important components. 

Using the wrinkled space of the aluminum plate instead of the flat plane of the canvas Ristic legitimized his own necessity to extricate his art from the traditional views on painting, which is limited by th’e situation of the iconic representation, towards propositions of its two dimensional framework. This uneven space Ristic acquires by the means of different techniques: wrinkling, bending, rolling, etching, bending in of the aluminum plate. In this manner the artist generates a space in relief of different depth ranging from the very low towards the very high relief which, where it not defined as relief-painting, could represent a finalized sculpture in its own right. From the very beginning of such proceedings Ristic gradually undermines the flat plane, at first descreetly and almost unintentionally only to become obvious artistic attitude, which finally reaches an acomplished level of the authorship. 

The completion of the plate is followed by the layer of paint, rather the painting of this space in relief. At first Ristic was searching for the geometric solutions and for such forms which conjure up the visual aesthetics of Bauhaus. Later the changes his techniques of the colour execution in the manner which includes the repertory of various gestures: a forceful stroke of the brush, spjilling and sprinkling of the liquid paint, and finally, in the series of the most recent work rubbing in by the cloth, which, now gives a new sound, as well as more delicate and more precise and strictly controlled effect. In the later works only random organization of the amorpheous structure of his reliefs is noticable in such a manner that there appear to be rare, discreet angles and straight lines at the places where th.e aluminum plate is bent. With this circle is complete and the ring in the chain is linked with his earlier works in which the principle of organization stands above the principle of desorganization. 

The basis of Ristic’s artistic concept lies in the achievement of visual effect (with well known methods registered in the history of Modern Art) in the conditions of irregular space. In this example the chosen artistic method is perfectly attuned with the need, or more precisely, the aim of this artist to question and redefine plastic, formal and stylistic conditions for creation and existence of a visual effect in the final and prefect iconic, abstract proceeding which owes its life and value to the entirely inner artistic reasons. The usage of one of already elaborated artistic concepts on an unsuitable preadapted base, as it were, clear1y states that, at present, the contemporary art is undergoing a great deal of questioning concerning its meaning, value and aims, as well as its evaluation in accord with sensouous and spiritual demands and needs of the contemporary connaisseurs and public. 

According to the present day artists, and Miodrag Ristic is one of them, the contemporary painting has become a plane in which the notion of the pure visual experience is reflected in. The sources for this altered undertakings in plastics are numerous: almost all artistic poetics, both from the recent and remote past, is sufficient encouregement to make it the basic framework for research. Nowdays the art is, again, “the art of inner necessity”, and in this specific form, its picture was born from the pure creation and consequently unadultarated impression of colour, releasing its sound towards the protagonist (the work of art) particulary researched and executed artistic performance. Once again in this example we touched upon “the absolute zero” whereby, strictly speaking, the painting itself does not exist any more, but the stubborn need of the artist to find in this new creation the iconic presentation which is both the self determined aim as well as the self evaluation of the level of the authentic creative will. 

Jovan Despotovic 

ULUS Gallery, Belgrade, 1990, National museum, Kragujevac, 1991