Kosta Bogdanović’s Byzantheme

Modern art questiones and relates critically to many artistic phenomenons. Some were even denied by creating wholy new forms adjustable exclusively to a new age, its own structures and aesthetical cathegories. Parallely with new generations of iconoclastic promoters, all of them defined Moderna’s essential positions like Kandinsky, Malevich or Duchamp and acted in an aggressive and very impressive way, some new promoters (preachers) of icons – iconophiles, acted with their own practice defined basics of a representional art, its substantial and ontological strata. Among leading artists in this group were Sezanne, Picasso, Tatlin. Occurents in the actual art of XX century diverged mostly in between these extreme positions making a vivid image of multiple movements, groups, styles and simple artistic contributions to active creative atmosphere. 

It was just that these extreme oponents marked the art history, in early periods they often stayed concealed behind heavy stratas of theory and interpretation, first the sacral than only too worned and at last, bourgeois dogmatism. The most famous interprets of art from the church circles, like all most famous philosophers concerned with a nature and objectives of art, gave credit to a persistent spirit of continuity always doing their utmost to find new aesthetical categories by applying their own which were more modern caracteristcs always coinciding with traditional philosophical and othertheoretical systems. In this concern, the fundamental dogmatic theological systems remained basic for a permanent categorization wich could not be sidetracked or avoided. It is valid until our time. According to these systems of art cognition in the Christian corpus of knowledge there are two basic courses in the aesthetic field. Western, Roman – Catholic constantly showing interest for changes which followed global philosophical and political circumstances. Eastern, Bysantine-0rthodox remained very much inert and unchanged, so that even today in the visual arts they have discussions based on unchanged aesthetical canons. 

If we take into consideration all that is mentioned above, for a contemporary artist coming from this part of the world of Serbian-Byzantine tradition, it is only uniqe, guestion of participation in the iconoclastic or iconophil aesthetical dispute. The guestion of respect of the subject of art – paintings, icons, sculptures, came in various arrangements until today. If we follow the discussions that arose in the new art (i. e. the famous dispute over Ortodox fresco painting in 1886 and 1887. among Valtrović, Maletić, Steva Todorović and Đorđe Krstić) we can summit up on that antagonism, even on to the guestion of modernism in the Serbian contemporary art which was alwys up to date and promoted from the fifties. We can take this as a turning point for experiences in connection with the place and the objectives of pictural presentations either in the sacral or secular art. A place and a role of the art subject in the sculptor’s experience of Kosta Bogdanović are also defined by these relationes. Byzantine aesthetics is of course only pretext of auxiliary gnoseological discipline for understanding of that role of art subject, and only because of that, this discipline acts with its inermost codes, productive determinantes and physical will for creation. These concepts can be explanied by the afore mentioned systems of (re)cognition and on the other hand these concepts are liberated due to modern experiences that Bogdanović recognizes perfectly. Moreover, the practice of blending is evident in his art. Which are his ways of understanding and interpretation of Byzant through Modernism or his way of understanding of Modernism in Byzantine way? Ambiguity of shapes in the art of Kosta Bogdanović shows very effectively and in materializing way that touch of unconnectable. As an artist, sculptor Bogdanović is in search of limit of a form. This is a prime structure of pentagon which has an origine in a pure experience of this shape which in the nature forms different ways and always has same function: efficient in its own structure and energetic interferences with environment. This prime of effectual shape for Bogdanović, as contemporary artist with different experiences of visual perception, has as well an element of suggestion of third dimension, that sensative moment when “sketch” mental activity, becomes a body, an object, a fact of phisical activity. So, for a number of years in the art of Kosta Bogdanović, pentagon repeats itself as a particular individual “design” explained in many ways. And, at last, oeuvre made by contemplative artist, Kosta Bogdanović, for whom it is always itringuing and open the guestion of aesthetic sense, could be explained by theleological Byzantine experience. According to that a shape, a painting, and eventually a sculpture is a question of transcedency: an spiritual substratum of will for making finished object, therefore an exchange of will what is secondary role and in extreme cases (i.e. in Conceptual art) unnecessary. 

Hence, the art of Kosta Bogdanović clearly shows that ambiguity, relativly speaking through its predominant spiritual activity as a wish for creativity of shape and as “necessary fact” and aesthetical shape itself. 

Observing the art of Bogdanović it is possible to find a host of elements wich prove relations mentioned afore: tnaterials he uses (wood, metal, terracote), their differences and various methodes of use; colours (blue and natural colour of the material) wich incidentaily points to paralel Moderna – Byzant, and in the byzantine transcedental themes framework as well as the existance of the opposite categories of the spiritual and physical existence; particular reflex of light in combination with shades of relief which becomes necessary transcedental and speaks of a presence of an extramaterial existence, or sends an interpretation towards symbolic and painting substance of his work. 

Very instructive study written by Victor Bichkov “Byzantine aesthetic” is certainly substantial for understanding of connection of Byzantine themes with modern art, with these art objects reffering to the aesthetics. The impression is that Bogdanović’s art can be explained in that category. Among other things Bichkov cites an idea about “usless use of aesthetical ac-tivity”, when he speaks about Byzantine artists. 

Do we have here in the creative will of Kosta Bogdanović as its inermost intention, case of “useless enjoyment in love”? 

Jovan Despotovic 

Salon of Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, 1992