The Twelfth Retrospective Exhibition
The most complete presentation of Konjović’s artworks has been realised by presenting them through retrospective exhibitions. About 150 works of various techniques guide the visitors throughout his works which covers nearly the whole 20th century. Most of them were created or shown in Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Cassis — in the south of France, camp in Osnabruck, Brač, Dubrovnik, Cavtat, Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci, Ledinci, Rakovac monastery and art colonies in Vojvodina — Palić, Bačka Topola, Senta, Bečej, Ečka and finally in Sombor which was his general catalyst, his foothold and the main driving force of his inexhaustible creative potential.
The 12th retrospective exhibition in “Milan Konjović” Gallery has been accomplished in a year that celebrates the 4th decade of this renowned institution. It preserves the chronological character of the previous ones made in the sense of the conception of the first exhibition and monography author Katarina Ambrozić in 1966. It points up the homogeneity of his work, as well as the consistent development of his art. Furthermore, the exhibition emphasizes the strong individuality of Milan Konjović that was recognized by critics in Prague and Paris, and — after his return home, by native ones like Milan Kašanin, Todor Manojlović, Momčilo Stevanović, Desimir Blagojević, Đorđe Popović. The exhibition particularly emphasizes the artist’s innate sense of colour and form. “Matter is colour” — Konjović used to say expressing his personal experience and relying on his deepest instinct.
The exhibition points up the thematic diversity of the artist, particularly his devotion to people. Painting them in a very up-to date style, he gets through to the person’s character. Not only people, but ‘red–hot’ wheat fields, ‘whirling’ sunflowers, ‘drunken’ streets and old farms are presented too. His powerful flower and nude paintings offer a great spiritual and sensual pleasure to the real art lovers. Perhaps, someone will find his last pieces revelatory as Dora Vallier, a prominent historian of art did, during the exhibition in Paris’ Grand Palais. These “Byzantine phase” paintings attract people with their freshness, fullness, expressiveness and simplicity.
In the exhibition, there are pieces from the legacy of the artist’s daughter Vera Konjović Amidžić. They especially enrich the presentation of his early works, a period of studying and exploring — in the 1920s in Sombor, Prague, Vienna and, at the very beginning in Paris when he fixed the ground of his unusual art.
We can follow the works by stages, in the selected sheets of graphic works, drawings made in pencil, ink, chalk, coal chalk, crayon and sepia — all in forms of precise studies, cubist experiments, brief and vibrant drafts. These sketches, often made on the back of some invitation card, envelope or piece of paper, meant a great challenge for the artist. They were his stimulus for making a new creation “in a breath, without later treatments”.
The exhibition would not be complete without the artist’s pastel works. Abundant in calmer nuances, with the velvet–soft contours, they testify to the large range of his abilities.
Unlike the pastels, which were created during and after the Second World War — a time of a poverty and lack of painting materials, his water paintings came from his early years. With their lightness and wavingness, they were a great contribution and a stimulus to attaining summation and synthesis in the art of oil painting.
Not only are there selected works which have not been exhibited for a long time, but so called “key paintings“ too. Such ones are “Wood” from 1913, “Self–portrait” from 1933, “Sunflower” from 1942 and “Nature Morte from 1953 which were seen by the audience in Paris, Moscow and other metropoles because they have been inevitable models for presenting Konjivić’s art.
The memorial part, that is a part of exhibition, contains the artist’s personal items and photographs from the family album. There is his navy T–shirt, a symbol of adventure, which he used to wear, or if not, to throw over some chair and that often can be seen in the canvases. There is his linen cap, a sun protection when “the Panonian Giant” fought with the motif like a fencer in the middle of a wheat field, in a hot summer afternoon. His scarves, worn around his neck were a colourful mark and a counterpoint to the harmonized colours of his clothing. Paris’ pigments — his paints, are displayed as well. He used to mix them by himself, after his own recipe. There are also his brushes with which his hand transmitted his “vision of reality”, a vision that came from passionate love toward the life.