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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 64 | volume XII | January-February, 2009



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 64January-February, 2009
Gallery Reviews

A Victory of Language over the Act of Looking

p. 1
Miroslav Popović

Shut your eyes and you shall see
    James Joyce, Ulysses

There is this question – the one which doesn't force us to provide an unequivocal and immediate answer – what is the specificity of a black painted surface? When we are looking at the canvases of Dragan Petković from an ideal point of view, that is, from close range and under the sweep of a side-light, we will notice the exquisitely rich facture of his paintings. Therein, in the techniques spanning refinement to that which is spontaneous, raw and crude, one may experience the neat, nigh fused brushwork, the traces and sediments of paint as well as ridges remaining from the previous, unsatisfactory and partially scrubbed-off layers. By that, the material body of the paintings proper is reaffirmed as it is by resorting to frequent reworking and perfecting touches until the desired result and the air of time is attained. As if by the rule, a twofold dating appear on most of the works wherein the later date indicates that the pictorial result adequately met the painter's exacting criteria.

    In front of these black painted surfaces we feel as if we were in front of a dark, somewhat disturbing space which is virtually impressing upon us the evocation of a “negative theology”. Moreover, there are these titles such as, for example, “Deaf” (Sordo) or “Disturbance” (Astasia), which are aćordingly denoting the apprehensive nature of the artworks.
    The opaque surfaces wherein “there's nothing to see” while, at the same time, “there is so much to be looked at” are standing as an iconographic “Ground Zero” in want for their referential strongholds. Their detachment puts into question the very act of seeing, as well as of its aesthetic, psychological and ethical implications. Thus, moving the centre of gravity towards the act of seeing proper, appears to be a logical consequence which is actually confirmed by Petković himself: “… the vision is changed and upgraded when it touches the matter. The paintings – as a final result – are leading an independent life irrespectively of the explanations and narratives of their author”.[1]

    “That with which we see is important to us and is present in our eyes – only because it concerns us (or because it looks ar us)”.[2]

    In the mentioned work of Georges Didi-Hubermann there are two distinct types of “viewers” and two unfit comportments. The first type of viewer is always prepared to believe, as


1. Interview, Nova Makedonija, 26.04 1988., p.9;
2. Georges Didi-Hubermann, Il gioco delle evidenze, Fazi Editore, Roma 2008;

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