Journey Through White Spaces

 Anto Kajinić - Journey Through White Spaces

Prologue to Anto Kajinić's painting

We are on the eve of the centennial of one of the most programmatic works of world art, White on White (1918). According to Kazimir Malevich who painted it, this work marks the ultimate point of reduction in which painting is deprived of colour as its fundamental specificity: “In a pure coloured motion – the three squares also point to the extinction of colour, by which it vanishes into the white.“ According to Suprematist understanding, the given work is actually “the last painting“, an achievement that marks “the death of painting“, or surpassing of the same,and a shift towards immaterial, or mental and spiritual existence.
I deliberately mention the entire century between us and the radical precedent, with the paradoxical feeling that “white on white“ has not yet exhausted the potentials of its layers and harmonies, and with an equally strong awareness that painting – even when it uses material and physical particularities of its means – necessarily strives to surpass them in favour of the conceptual and spiritual, or non-present and otherworldly, beyond the given and visible, thus: the metaphysical and transcendental.
At first glance I put Anto Kajnić's paintinginto a historical context it does not belong to, I engage it in a dialogue with the historical avant-garde, bring it into relation with maximalist programs, although I very well know that it appeared only in the late seventies of the last century, actually it was more prominent and defined in the early ninth decade. Indeed, Kajinić's real start coincided with the crisis of the neo-avant-garde, with the fatigue of intermedia projects and saturation with installation and assemblage exhibits and with the related longing for “the return to painting“. Thus, he entered the scene on the wave of “New Image Painting“, Transavantgarde or post-modernist reaction and from the start he was welcomed by the most important Croatian critics and accepted by the appropriate promotional institutions and exhibiting occasions.
However, already forty years divide us from Kajnić's graduation, from the moment he resolutely set off on his own path, which he never strayed from. There were shifts and developments, he varied technical and performance possibilities of expression, however, from the very beginning he hasstuck to a very specific, seemingly narrow, imaginative streak and primary, elementary way of creating. He abandoned a wide chromatic register and pompous gesturality, heoccasionallyworked with the contrast of light and darkness, and occasionally, more often, with their mild and successive gradation (merging).On the other hand, simple figurative signs, concise and rarely direct outlines of objects and characters from the environment and imaginationoften made way into his images.
The chronological coordinates we marked (early date of the historical visual arts “lighthouse“ on the one hand, and the worthy continuation of an individual creative journey on the other) should satisfy the historical considerations and obligations, but it is like Anto Kajinić's creative share is not conditioned either by the avant-garde or neo- or retro- or anti- premises and challenges.In fact, his world has long ago been singled out from the current movements or needs (not to say: necessities) of updating, exclusively gathered around the core of obsessive motifs and convincing ways of expressing them. In its autonomy and self-purebredness, Kajinić's world of symbols and creation also acquired the right to be anachronous, beyond the demands and limitations of a specific period.
After all, the choice of white as a dominant shade of all the backgrounds and layers in itself signifies both the idea of beginning and end, or abandoning the logic of linear development. Whiteness signifiesthe elimination of everything that is redundant, with the purpose of addressing the primary, but nothing less, and it is a clean slate on which the flow of intimacy with the stillness, silence, language of the primordial,naturally continues. Excessive visibility of external phenomena fades and disappears in the whiteness, but the restrained beauty of inner visions is also born and harmoniously emerges from this whiteness.
There is no doubt that Kajinić's understanding of space and form is extremely free and unconventional, non-mimetic and far from any gravity.His images contain lines and blotches, sometimes grape-like or finger-like clusters, and sometimes even zoomorphic or biologically suggestive mini-units or assemblies of irregular squares, triangles and circles which could represent parts of a house, car, roof or wheel. Kajinić's fields of vision are wide and spacious, one could say that they jealously nurture their dominant central emptiness, here and there allowing only a few feathers to land, a few flowers to spring up, a few birds to alight, a few vehicles to stroll in, a few steps to come trudging...
The relationship between traces and signs in the image is not defined by unique proportions or an integral distortion system, but only by the dynamism of the energy exchange of more elementary and rounded particles. The effect, of course, also depends on the nature of the backgroundused (which can be paper and transparent foil, wall itself or treated chipboard), but also on the character of the applied material(from oil and varnish to polycolour and watercolour), but in any case, seemingly meagre and poor means will be skilfully used in the way that makes them show offthe maximum of their distinctive lines.Brighter and darker shadeswill differentiate in the multi-layeredness of layer stain interventions, concave or convex penetrations, illusionist or purely material effects.
When paintings of a uniform format are arranged next to each other, they may also appear as sequences, phases of an ideal animated event, or they can complement each other in the direction of – if not a narrative, then – an associative concatenation, that is, a more complete witnessing to the ontological connection of all natural phenomena and existential challenges of existence. Like primary imprints or lapidary scratches, figures and outlines on Kajinić's paintings represent pars pro toto of archetypal, auroral perception.
We might say that Anto Kajinić found a way not to be descriptive or illustrative, and yet to remain referential and allusive in relation to the world around him and life he is imbued with and the experience he is rich in. Instead of dealing with mimesis, he focused on devoted contemplation, which is manifested in the concentration of a focusedartist, even ready to intake the flows of necessary improvisations and penetrations of aleatoric motives. In this way he has preserved the immediacy and purity of the execution, encouraging us to emphatically react by following the threads of his unrestrained and playful vigilance.

Tonko Maroević

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