Domesticated marvels of Vojo Stanić

Exhibition of Vojo Stanic

Unlike rarely any contemporary artistic universe, panopticon
of Vojo Stanić combines the intimate, distinctive
proximity and strange, elusive dimension of existence.
At first glance, the extent of his imagery has solid
ground, clear base, mind-suggested volatile illusion of
surface on which objects and doables are placed, through
which displayed imagery coasts, but already on a
second glance, those walls are open to infinity, things
floating in the air, the background consumes everything
in its way, and reality of the captured moment shines
in its uniqueness, resisting, with the fragile stoutness,
quite imminent threat of evanescence.
However, in efforts to avoid invoking pathetic registers,
not to touch the wires of futile arguments, let’s focus
on the substantiality of Stanić imagery and try to grasp
the surroundings in which partly prosaic partly completely
incomprehensible, undefinable and inexplicable
events are taking place. First thing one can note is that
a large number of images plays with the relativization
of interior and exterior, as scenes in rooms usually lose
that ‘’fourth wall’’ and allow access to external spaces
similar to the scenes on the street or the square always
intruding into rooms in an almost “voayeuristic” way, or
force themselves through the window edges into the
intimate spaces or captured physiognomy of presented
figures, faces.
Besides the apparent, good part of the paintings refers
to typical Mediterranean scenes, coastal scenes with
the sea in the background (sometimes in the foreground)
intertwined with the summer, vacations or weather
wise pleasure grasping moments, a conclusion
that imposes itself - if by anything – then by the almost
inevitable repetitivness of mostly female nudes. That
obvious light-hearted detachment from work habits
and commitments, smiling and carefree faces of the
agonists, streaming or levitating of number of bodies
only displays Stanić intent to depict an inner film of a
clear memory, wiggly rememberance, quirky mention,
sentimental honoring, self-taunting conformation, witty
reverie, lithe evasion of the rules, logic, gravity and ‘’all
of the similar’’ ...
Getting closer to one of the most realistically and most
mimetically conceived and rendered images. The piece
called ‘’Park’’ (2006) shows two pensioners playing chess
on the bench. In the background one may notice, the
couple in embrace between looming trees, two people
walking, two on a distant park pew and the solitary figure
on the right.
All relations are seemingly standard, normal, just as the
pion in the foreground is proportionally enlarged, as
above the heads of the protagonists strange emanations
(energy spots and lines) appear, in the middle of a
tree a circular crown breakthrough occurrs, black and
white disc of polarized light, it seemingly appears that
through the ‘’hole’’ in the system the overall credibility
of the scenes could somehow leak into the beyond.
The chess motif leads us to perceive the world as a
game, respecting even very specific rules of presentation,
including the geometric perspective, that is traditionally
best represented with a chessboard. On the
bottom of the checkerboard Stanic performs possibly
the most fantastic of his art works, the painting ‘’King’’
(2008), where of all playing figures only the Queen is
represented, while others are not only alive, but mostly
anthropomorphized and moving briskly, where the idle
king sleepily lays in his seat - the throne. However the
peculiarity of - not only this - painting consists in dimension
diversity of the represented characters: some are
twice the size of the others, and heads that pop out
(one of the rectangular box in the middle frame, one
behind the door that leads into infinity) are precisely
Goliath-ian or Gulliver-ian in relation to the overall context.
Playing cards (spades and hearts, red and black)
are scattered over the surface of the checkerboard, which
magnifies tremendously the ludicrous component of
the scene, and the bare symbolism of the abyss where
everything indicated takes place cubes its significance.
Let’s take a painting ‘’Discussion’’ (2010) as an example,
where the table (which has a checkered tablecloth, again
like a chessboard or illusionist ‘’net’’) two characters
from the background are in the middle of discussion, as
the naked woman approaches them with a bottle and a
glass in hand. Although the left and right image are of
the same proportions, first mentioned in the suit, with a
funny mask slung over the hair balancing a spiral object
with the index finger, while another one is undressed
and as carved out of a piece, but differentiated by a
pipe in the mouth, glasses and tiny little hat on top of
the head. Alienation of individual figures and relations
among them render the painting quite an unusual feel
in the apparent ordinary genre of the scenes.
Painting ‘’Stairway’’ (2010) is an emblematic building of
the solid structure in the lower part and free imaginative
expansion in the upper part. Namely, the walls, floors
and fences houses are painted solid forms, hard shading,
and the steps by which the character ascends with
a hat in the air, indefinitely, are introduced as disembodied,
presented only summarily in the barren signs.
But besides these dichotomies, the painting has other
contrasts and paradoxes, both in proportional sizes and
ways (figure that climbs is voluminous and heavy, though
floating, while the woman’s head that pops out in
the plinth is totally flat and hypertrophied) as well as in
the illusion of the horizon (celestial background of the
larger part of the image is green and airy, however the
breakthrough through the doors and windows of the
house points to deep and dark blue waters, crowned by
the moon glint).
Painting ‘’Terrace’’ (2009) shows a man at sea, gazing at
the TV that hampers the view of the sea, while relatively
overlaping with the views imposed to his eye.
Put aside the fact that the man is holding remote control
in hand, whereby he could choose a different scene,
or the fact that on top of a television there is a generic
figurative sculpture (let’s not forget that Stanic studied
sculpture, and that to every form of art of his he “breathes
in” the plausibility of modeling, statuarity and
static of volume) and consider the most authoritative
element, certain evidence of sameness of the open sea
panorama and TV screen panorama, as the broad green
sea contrasts deep blue sea and intensely blue sky.
Dalliance with frames, perceived as blending and exceeding
different levels of evidence is certainly one of the
fundamental Stanić strategies. For instance, the painting
‘’Window’’ (2007) in the midst of endless space in
which humanoid creatures levitate opens rectangular
window niche with a figure which relies on the window
frame; the painting “Kras’’ (2006) in stark mountainous
landscape of bizarre rock formations, highlighting in a
way a square hole in the middle of a cliff, flanked by
golden gallery-type frame, through which the looming
blue expanse of the space is accentuated with pale lunar
disk; the painting ‘’Stairs’’ (2009) contains even few
of these breakthroughs, where the rectangular door leading
into the room that housed the marble or plaster
torso and humanoid window contours are emphasized,
through which we contemplate the vastness of space
and a spheric celestial element in the center.
Vojo Stanić does not require neither erudite references
nor legitimacy to historically artistic situatedness. Nevertheless,
occasionally he can not resist associative,
allusive touch. Painting ‘’Clouds’’ (2007), composing
thereby strict orthogonal elements’ relations, building
a perspective suggestion of square structural particles,
has added along the edge of his imagery that something
that indicates strong resemblance to Mondrian. Putting
together a very complex ‘’Composition’’ (2009) he had
unfolded an interior cube both through the ceiling that
leads to heavenly heights and the wall in the bottom of
the perspectively guided spatial box. Furthermore, the
act in the foreground holds a framework with diaphanous
or mirroring floor line, while on the lateral walls of
the suggested space he had basically ‘’hung’’ two scenes:
standing on the left would be a black and white
portrait of a male, standing on the right is an abstractdecorative
rhythm of triangular surfaces, which seems
to be borrowed from the art repertoire of Jasper Johns.
Paiting Temple’’ (2010) clearly recorded humorous attitude
towards the whole art tradition: the colonnades
are funny and the tympanum is not just a paraphrase
of ancient classic morphology and their naked ‘’metaphysical’’
or trans-avant-garde audit, recreation, citation.
It suffices to notice that behind the temple, a majestic
brass band performes, while in the foreground a humped
shadow emerges.
Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of spatial imaginative
combinations we find in the painting ‘’TV’’ (2007),
which multiplies the central scene - in their own way,
and modifies it, certainly reduces, removes, deepens it
- ad infinitum.
Besides the mirror projection, there is a snail shell,
not incidentally, and through bending and swirling of
the helix we are entering the dimension of the infinity
glimpsing thereby into the ‘’black hole’’ towards the
One would require an opulent narrating talent to be able
to adequately measure the entire art “Decameron”-ism
of Stanić. Each painting has its own narrative summary
and corresponding custom-formed plot.
Hence, in lieu of contemplating the origins of his artistic
impetus, we would hereby like to commend a number
of other achievements such as the ‘’Moonlight’’ (2010),
‘’Door’’ (2010), ‘’Light’’ (2008), ‘’Night’’ (2007), ‘’Cube’’
(2008), ‘’Reader’’ (2007) and ‘’Composition’’ (2010).
Many indeed might be fooled by the apparent ease and
relaxed undeniable expression of the painter, while others
will be more intrigued by the plot-line sparkle and
curiosity of his figurative work.
Considering Vojo Stanić the creator of non-sense world
of characters and creator of original, imaginative absurd
visions, paradoxal situations, it is easy to understand
how he found the appropriate way of - seemingly relaxed
but deeply pondered – art introduction, the genuine
correlative of modest luxury or lavish modesty of
life in quite rigidly set yet complex, compensatively expanded
conditions of Mediterranean climate. Derisory
wisdom and mature unpretentiousness, combined with
the partial approach, made it possible for him to master
a domestication of miracles.

Tonko Maroević

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