Mirjana Petrovic – Images from the planet tape

Memories fo the Present Times in Mirjana Petrovic’s Notions

Sarajevo ’80s
(An autobiographical note) 

Sarajevo, as a geographic centre of both the first and the second Yugoslavia, gradually became a centre of other occurrences different from politics and ideology, relating to culture and art, especially noticeable during the eighties. This town reached its zenith point in art during the second half of the previous decade. Enormous creative energy, generated in the exciting multicultural and multiethnic contents of this place, appeared in this for the Vugoslav art interesting surroundings at the every and of peace. This “Sarajevo epoch” was a short period of creative conceptions and participation in the Vugoslav cultural circles, also characterised by the international promotions of Kusta, Brega, Braca, Jusuf, “Bell”, “Audition”, “No Smoking”, “Surrealists”, etc. Sarajevo had a lead role even in the Vugoslav fine arts; great exhibitions such as “Documents” or “Art/Critique of “80s” attracted the extreme attention and this town became a meeting place (?) of the most interesting artists and the most serious theoreticians whose work was dominant during this period. 

During my last visit of Sarajevo at the end of ‘ 80s, after the opening of one of the mentioned exhibitions, I was invited together with other guests from Zagreb, Skopje, Ljubljana, Belgrade,…, by to host to have dinner in a very unusual restaurant, called RS, close to Skenderija, i.e. Collegium artisticum where the exibition was held. And though I had visited all Yugoslav cultural and artistic centres, and seen indeed the most interesting places and local attractions, I am sure that I shall never forget this restaurant, as it is obvious today, was a sign and a symbol of the time which was inevitably disappearing. The interior of the sarajevo restaurant was completely in spirit of former “new primitivism”, which, as a defined aesthetic category was the most profoundly cherished especially in Sarajevo, and was also recognisable in fine arts, film, rock music, theatre, literature, etc. achieving a very vivid, local appearance within a great movment of post modernism. Several different rooms were differently decorated: completely different laid tables and chairs were placed in a room with some rags hanging from the ceiling reminding of washing. There were not two same chairs, while wormeaten tables were covered with garish, tartan tablecloths and textile. There was a constant danger that the guests would fmd themselves on the floor in the middle of their meal. Glasses, plates and silvenvare were completely broken up as if they had been borrowed from other restaurants. Another room – “booth” was decorated after the style of cabinets of high officials of  ’50s with massive leather armchairs and desks, wireless sets, worn-out carpets from some other times, framed official TitcTs photographs and busts of politicians brought from who knew where. The meals served in plates of unusual shapes, although of familiar taste, were specially decorated, streaked according to garish new primitive paintings hanging on walls or stretching out everywhere all around with no order. 

Mirjana Petrović was a student in the class of the professor Radoslav Tadić, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. Although war circumstance brougt her to belgrade, her recent paintings are according to their symbols and meanings still based on creative atmosphere of artistic bloom of Sarajevo during the late eighties. 

Tough her previous painting differed, to a great extent, from a general appearance of plastic arts which enabled priority to this circle within Yugoslav relations, it is obvious now, that her creative development occurred in such iconographic ambient of aggressive colourism and individual mythologies as the most important artistic characteristics. 

The new paintings and “toys” by Mirjana Petrović are completely left to uncertainties of their inner plastic and symbolic events and even their results – their appearances are unintentional and intetional at the same time. They are unintentional as they come up  from deep, often consciously uncontrolled layers of her creative will; forms, images entities, creatures of her intimate and imaginative worlds suddenly uncontrollably and elementally swarm from these layers and abruptly become a part or entirety of plastic visions on the painting. They are intentional as Mirjana Petrović searches for such creatures, provokes them in her own imagination, invokes them and finally “copis” them on the surface of the canvas. Colouristic abundance increase on her canvases an reduction of number of her creatures to one or two types are, in fact, the artistic balance which provides to her works the necessary state of the aesthetic tension not allowing them to slip neither to excessive chromatic chattering nor to senseless semantic logomania. 

Out of such artistic visions, as a particular “spawning place”, numerous “toys” pour from canvas surfaces as an art-handicraft product scattering around, suddenly re-animating the whole space where paintings are placed, creating a total ambient. Due to their spreading these little “toys” became individual object-sculptures, spaced out figurative images of equal meanings and artistic values, but of highly elevated general conceptive reality and subjected impression of the truthful presence of imagination. Obviously, nonexisting, imaginary worlds of Mirjana Petrović’s became open incarnated objects as a part of now our, mutual physical reality. 

It is not difficult to interpret these new paintings, “toys” and sculptures by Mirjana Petrović in accordance with linguistic categories of “joyful” artistic renaissance or of graphite-art style. But one should be careful and deeply observe numerous staring “glances” and “eyes”, and think about these sometimes delightful, sometimes horrible sights which literally come out from the paintings, one should about their significance, origin and meaning in relation to artisitc and life experience of the author. Their simultaneous optimism and ironic, almost humorous appearance can be understood as infantile paintings, but they are also a part of real, not at all imaginary biography. This art is easily fitted into the Belgrade art scene of the recent period according to many plastic values, but at the same time it is of different origin. It has been developed in other time and other realm. Brought by these pain.tings this time and the realm are defmite past and spoilt possibility, only a part of vivid memories on such a presence. 

Jovan Despotovic

Antique shop, Subotica, Art Gallery of Cultural Center, Belgrade, Cultural center ’Laza Kostić’, Sombor, Art meetings Subotica, Subotica, 1996, Contemporary Gallery Zrenjanin, Zrenjanin, Gallery ’Nova’, Pančevo, Art Gallry ’Belvu’, Bečići, Art Gallery Concordia, Vršac, Pavillion ’Veljković’, Belgrade, 1997