The Painting of Drama and Passion

May — June 2010

The word of the author

The stimulus for shaping the thematic exhibition “The painting of drama and passion” was my deep and intimate need, not so much to give a chronological resume of the Konjović’s creativity during more than two decades (of his ripest creative period) but to try to present the way of deciphering his violent moves, the purity of artistic expressions, fire, passion, revolt and rebellion, which resulted in creation of dramatic landscapes of Vojvodina.

The pursuit for a different expression in Konjović’s paintings can be noticed even in the “colouristic period”. Partial abandonment of objectness and figurativism, and transposition of composition, shape, colour and form, where what is seen becomes just an impulse; indicate the new period in Konjović’s creativity.

Wheat and Poplars (1972)

The presented works, which were made between 1960 and 1985, with their intensive colours and strong rhythm, excitement and tension and violent moves, where the object is reduced to a symbol, sign, association and allusion, shape the “associative period”.

The creation of his visions on his own ground was the constant need for Konjović’s artistic expression. As the maestro once said:

“I paint Vojvodina not as others see it, but as I feel it…”
(Interview, Mladost, November 26, 1958)

Nebojša Vasić, academically trained painter

Stormy horizons

I keep the encounter with paintings of Milan Konjović and the later encounter with the maestro himself as one of many dear memories from my childhood in Sombor. Today, from a distance of several decades, I see that excitement evoked by art, has its origins in Sombor. While I was growing up, Sombor was considered the town of painters and this fact highly determined my later education and my interests. Through these lines and the opportunity I was given, I am mysteriously returning to my childhood, and the boyish trembling in front of the artworks doesn’t stop.

Wheat, Solar Eclipse (1973)

The landscapes of this exhibition supported what was said before. The motive is not the only tie that binds these works into a homogenous unity. In my opinion, more important is the component which has marked the majority of Konjović’s paintings — conscious avoidance of factographic and mimetic principles. This exhibition emphasizes what is typical in Konjović’s art — outbursts of ecstatic force over the painting surface, and it clearly confirms that these paintings are an echo of a psychological or inner landscape, despite the starting point or the inspiration in the painter’s surrounding. Konjović confirms that the inspiration process is a complex ego–system which is sometimes self-deceiving, but its starting point and outcome are always present in the creator himself. From the presented works we can also read his affective ritual of painting and at the same time the self–discipline of eruption in the organization of the painting.

Ripe Wheat, Slope, Maize (1980)

It is well known that on Konjović’s paintings there are no straight lines which are characteristic for the landscape of Vojvodina. The fact that Sombor, with its slow rhythm, has given birth to one of the most ardent Serbian expressionists, adds the spice of humour to this exhibition. The presented works can be seen as a step towards abstract painting, but it seems there was no courage or wish to cross the border further and sail towards the landscapes of pure reality spiritualization. However, Konjović’s stay in the safe waters of expressionism cannot reduce his significance. I hope that future explorers of Konjović’s works will be as uncompromising as his art.

Igor Rill, art historian

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