RADIVOJE ĐUROVIĆ

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     Belgrade, 15. october 1950 – 28. october 2008.

     Đurović graduated from the Academy /Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Department of Painting, in 1974 and completed his postgraduate studies in 1978 with Professor Stojan Ćelić.

     He was born in Belgrade in 1950 and died in 2008 and his whole life was dedicated to art. He lived in Belgrade, New York  (in the late eighties) and London (from 2001 to 2005), and did not have many solo exhibitions. Between 1976, the year of his first solo show of paintings and drawings organised in the Kolarac Gallery, and 2005, when he had his last solo (paintings) in the Gallery of the Association of Serbian Artists (ULUS), he had five exhibitions: in 1979 in the Gallery of Graphic Artists (drawings), in 1981 in Nikšić (paintings and drawings), in 1986 in the Kolarac Gallery (paintings), in 1993 in the Gallery of Graphic Artists (collages), and in 1999 in the ULUS Gallery (paintings), together with Zoran Grebenarović and Mladen Mićunović.

     From 1973 he participated in a number of group exhibitions in Yugoslavia and Serbia, in France, The Netherlands and Great Britain and received several important awards: the October Salon award for painting in 1989 and in 1986 was rewarded by the City of Belgrade Cultural Department for the best solo exhibition in the Kolarac Gallery.

     He painted, drew, made collages, helped in the execution of important mosaics; general design, magazine and book design were also within the scope of his activities. He used oil paints, acrylic, combined techniques, coloured pencils.

     In the late 1980s he worked on the mosaic for the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad and the Radio-television building in Košutnjak in Belgrade.

     He was a member of the Association of Serbian Artists (ULUS) from 1975.

   Đurović did not just paint, but he thought about his profession. In his recently discovered notes we find: „My paintings are the result of a profound and systematic observation of things that surround me. Therefore, the chosen motif is separated from the whole to which it belongs and when transposed onto the canvas it offers the unexpected, because we are used to see it together with other elements or happenings that accompany it and with which it makes up an entity that we recognise and remember... Objects separated from the whole acquire new qualities, new characteristics. When one considers those relations one could speak about these paintings as a view of the world. The surrounding world we pass every day without noticing it.“

     In the catalogue for exhibition RADIVOJE ĐUROVIĆ, OB BICYCLE TO A MODERN CITY, Bojan Burić wrote:

    Radivoje Đurović belongs to the generation of young people who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade (Faculty, after 1973) in a creative atmosphere that generated a number of artists who made their city in the 1980s a true metropolis of art. Although it seemed then that two exclusive poetics were dominant in the School, such as poetic or symbolic realism and abstraction – classifying students in a simplified way into rationalists and intuitivists – the creative potential lay in those who carefully fostered and retained their individuality. Radivoje Đurović was one of them and he was able to use in the best way the fact that he attended the prestigious class of Professor Stojan Ćelić and learned the methodology that helped him to build and improve his own sensibility and inform his own visual reflections. His creative self combined intelligence and intuition, asceticism and concision with creative hedonism that would suddenly break into flames of colouristic fireworks. During his maturation into a personally striking artist, discreet but persistently present on the artistic scene of the time, Radivoje Đurović understood his professor’s lessons: he applied them but also found a sovereign articulation of his own idiom. Very serious and dedicated to his painterly tasks and elaboration of plastic problems, which he recognised as constituents of his painterly world, he did not allow himself to be fascinated by the first successes but worked consistently in order to realise harmony between the minimal means of expression and maximum visual experience and effectiveness. He created his drawings and early painting with his chosen reduced syntax, with just the line or delicate hatching, monochromatic surfaces, a radical choice of confronted sharp geometric forms or curvatures, soft contours that define the relief. His narratives came from his immediate surroundings: the view from the window of his room or studio at the Academy or objects of profane existence – and in their relations he was not looking for symbolic meanings but for visual, plastic values and the ways they made up compositional rhythms.

     One of the key goals the artist placed before himself was to overcome the resistance of the coloured pencil which seismically recorded deformations of the geometric forms as reinforcements of the dynamics of movement within the scene and a gradual bending of space suggestively turning into fluid. All this is evident in his drawings where he worked out of what would certainly happen in paintings. The view as theme, the relationship between fragments and the wholeness of a scene, are always present as motives in Đurović’s works and represent his desire to harmonise the real and the abstract, as the place where the material and spiritual meet. Drawings/miniatures assume view finding, focusing and establishing a distance towards the seen and recorded in the depth of the artist’s and our glance. Therefore their real existence is drawn into the depth of the emptiness of the space, a white canvas or white passepartout encircling the consistence of the drawn scene of strict essentiality.

     In the eighties, when we finally achieved the temporal synchronisation with European and global artistic happenings, and the time of numerous creative poetics, Radivoje Đurović produced paintings with recognisable appropriations of op-art, pattern painting and neo-geo tendencies. In those years he was at the same time engaged in design, not only by implementing his high visual culture for “useable purposes” but with possible displacement of the decorative into another segment of creative activity – to get liberated from the formalism of modernity and keep the freshness and purity of his painterly expression.

     A precious experience was his engagement in the execution of mosaics because the work called for concentrated thinking about the relationship of fragments and the whole. The setting of particular pieces that endow the composition with meaning and the objectness of the mosaic image led him to a creative adventure of the production of collages and in the early nineties he made an exceptionally good cycle of works in this technique. They represent only one period in Đurović’s opus, one segment of his intensive engagement in an emancipated consideration of collages but also his overall re-examination of the limits of his painting in order to keep it in the spheres of pure pictorial representation. By cutting ribbons from different kinds of paper, mostly printed, Đurović created mono-elements painted in diverse colours as constitutive elements of his collages. A module is materialised colour where the artist makes interventions with the brush in order to create coloured accents. In the series of pictures/collages Stadiums Đurović set these modules/ribbons into the rows of the auditorium and in that way turned them in coloured slices of the body of the stadium. By laying the coloured ribbons in a geometric order the artist controls their visual cacophony and creates fields of different visual dynamics and energy effectiveness. By disturbing the strict geometric order of modules Đurović deforms the two-dimensionality of the scene and secures the objectness of that collage. This “systemic plastics” enables the movement from two-dimensionality to an object, by means of the structure of monads. A haptic space is realised and at the same time the front plane of the plastic happening is preserved. In the margins of some of the collages there are traces of extraction from the surface, thus securing in advance the depth of the happening in the lowest zone, where the diagonally arranged multi-coloured paper ribbons are crossed and fastened to the support only in several places. Seized and captivated by the texture, the shadows give specific dynamics to the scene. The optical polyvalance of these works, achieved primarily by different intensities of rostrum fields and their rhythm, led Đurović into the process of painting where the visual effects were directly related to the reflections and refractions of light in/on the painted surface. In his works made during the last ten years of his life, when he painted only stylised urban scenes, the main subject matter in fact was the phenomenon of colour radiation, his long lasting preoccupation.

     The series of almost monochromatic paintings produced between 2001 and 2006 is an extraordinary outcome of his overall researches and media adventures. The paintings emanate colouristic soundness and resonance of colour/s by restrained vibrant lineal structure; their gentle and accidental slippage from the geometric order and discreet tonal nuances deform and influence the suggested relief of these paintings. Executed with “a jeweller’s precision” the facets of these painted surfaces radiate a painted passion and satisfaction that rehabilitate painting as the medium, which survives despite all theoretical hypotheses...

     The following sentence is found among Đurović’s rare notes:

“My paintings are dedicated to the modern city, to segments of a modern city; every stroke seems frighteningly out of control and the next one deadly precise...”