Katarina Radulovic

       What happened to the picture? This semantic question that opens a new chapter in the art opinion, is plentivuly represented in the works of Miodrag Ristic. We are increasingly awared that art should be seen as a phenomenon and a phenomenology. The work of art is becoming more established in its phenomenological basis as a matter of essential givens. Thus, this question will initiate a series of questions and phenomena such as: What happened to the surface?, or What happened to the level of representation?, and therefore the understanding the work. The picture is not just a pictorial entity which presents dimensions within itself, nor it is an illusion of dimensionality. It survives as a real object, but also as a real dimension. Hence, the picture becomes tangible physical performance of dimensions. From this follows that the space is a fact. This is a development path to Ristic’s „spatial images“. At the time when this term was applied to the works of this artist[1], his pictures did not look like today. Nevertheless, the term is not only functional until a suitable is found, but is permanently marked and codified in the works of the author.

       The first surface fractures were formed on the wrinkled, laminated canvas and paper glued on aluminum. Noticeable drawing liberation shows that the drawing firstly came out into the surrounding space. However, firstly liberated was the line, pushed off from the surface and beginning to scribble after more real space, leading the art object toward the position of installation. In this procedure, we do not see only dimensions of the formed work, but also dimensions of the opus, viewed as an integral organism and well harmonized concept. Parameters that clarify oeuvre primarily represent its size, consistency and causality. Through decades of exhaustive work, the artist cherishes the space around the picture, and takes care of the process of its creation. Art presentation is therefore a result of the process that has its duration. In this respect, each subsequent stage of the same picture is inherent consequence of the former. Analogically, the causality of the oeuvre is noticeable. Permanent relation between lines and surfaces, wires and space, specifies the artistic language. The surface that begins to vibrate is the cause. The drawing becomes more complex, while the aluminum, being light material suitable for plastic molding, stays adamant. Such material will during the nineties assume the wavy structure, showing the balance and, as a result of such bending, a certain movement in the central part of the performance will emerge. The surface will continue not only physically but also optically to vibrate, while the central backbone develops the core.  In this sequence, the image actually represents an opinion of the surface. Thus, the considered surface and interaction of the line and the surface are realized from the „spatial image“, through sculpture in the expanded field, up to the spatial geometry and centrally positioned recess, hence up to the position of the picture as an object. Even the first fractures of the surface seriously penetrate the space, creating the volume, that once conquered will never be abandoned. Broken alloy facets, brought to the sculptural propositions, will then soften around the curved configuration that vibrates to the center, producing the space within itself, where the wire would be inserted. This way observed the creative thread of Miodrag Ristic indicates that commitments to the detachment of the picture have been detected very early, and that the analytical manipulation on relation picture-space is a serious indicator of holistic oeuvre from the critical position.

           Ristic’s work demonstrates the qualities of gestural painting, multiplication of moves and action painting. By introducing dynamic colors and small strokes, the surface shifts on illusionistic, optical mode. It will actually move and twist, while retaining the properties of optical art and dynamic scene. Visual researches in a cycle that was last created are moving towards minimalism, towards the reduction, and further towards the abstract form, while the content is being enriched by the mental flows, due to which these works of art are understood as meta-structures.

         If the term „spatial image“ would be adequate in the interpretation of early works, terminological syntagm of „centered concave spatial configuration[2] would be suitable for the wave-designed forms, created in the nineties. Furthermore, following this path, the last intervention on aluminum are considered as imagesobjects. It is a series of related artistic interventions brought to a strongly developed concept. The surface has become active to such an extent that it has produced a core within itself. Entry into the picture is deepening, the forms become cleaner, and the energy of the artist concentrates on creating a proper circular recess, on modeling the void. Thus focused energy on picture’s core – object is affected by another question, and new instance in the work of the artist – is a moment of contemplation. The recess becomes essential, the topography of enhanced communication void is created with the desire to be fulfilled. This particulary articulated spot is a space of energy circulation, existence of sense, and represents a topos which best reveals the sensibility of the artist. Filling the cavity is also the search for meaning and satisfaction of need for situating the substance. Surprise factor is also activated, because such cavity is not always immediately visible. It requires a closer look, followed by reaction of tactile properties of the observer. There are many works created on relation: picture – object. However, they are remembered by the subtleties of bringing the surface into the third dimension, by a delicate and tactile fullness of core, and by sensibility of the concept, but also the craftsmanship. The line is multiplied and organized by illusionist effect. And the wire will replace the line in the real space. As the wire becomes thinner, the network becomes denser, and quality of cobweb as something untouchable is being fathomed. The picture depth weakens towards the edges, helping to create an impression of plunge. This plunge into the picture is a breakthrough into its essential appearance, but also an auto-suggestive plunge of the artist into the question of art, the creativity and the wider questioning of the creative and living doubts. The said contemplative moment is in a close relation with these chasms. The picture is created on the mental platform and becomes a meta-structure. The artistic intervention becomes physically deeper, the author’s aspirations are demanding, and the picture resides as a mental space – a place of reflection. „Plunge“ is the name of the picture, made in blue tonality, which in the most convincing way endorses the position of the image as a meta-space. Blue and green are used as organic dyes, as well as some pre-coloring or coloration of mighty nature. Central, particularly articulated place, even here appears as a space, where meaning is grounded, and can be seen as a fundamental part of the structure, which brings us back to the phenomenological grounds. An important name, that can greatly aid in the understanding of this area, is Gaston Bachelard. Aura of artistic presence spreads from the site, specified and developed into the core, leading us constantly towards the question of essentiality – What actually happened to the picture itself? The picture continues to exist on other grounds by proposing a modified method of interpretation. The creation is seen as a permanent activity of the human spirit. What remains is a constant need of the artist to continue working. This necessity makes him the presenter of sense, but also forces him to plunge into self, into his own core areas, and possibilities of their removal.

       Forming a central point is phenomenological position of researching the space, which Bachelard considers calling to the filled area, and its protective character. The recess place is a protected area, since the sense strives for a safe place to dwell in it. Bachelard considers that this space must be experienced and that the sense connotes protection. By linking the area with the substance, with house, with habitat, with topography, which belongs to the intimate being, it will tell that „every populated area carries in itself the essence of the idea of the house“[3].

      Finally, the origin of sense is to live, to dwell, to find a void where to insert and show all the beauty.

Katarina Radulovic

[1]      The term ‘spatial image’  is owed to the artist.

Miodrag Ristic, Spatial images, exhibition catalog, ULUS gallery, Belgrade, April 1990

[2]    Jovan Despotovic, Miodrag Ristic, exhibition catalog, ‘Zvono’ gallery, Belgrade, March 1999

[3]    Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Kultura, Belgrade, 1969

            Gaston Bachelard, The New Scientific Spirit, Zoran Stojanovic Publishing, Sremski Karlovci, Novi Sad, 1991

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