Monastic fidelity to the chosen path

Armed with years, he changes his style a little. What fascinates Voj Stanić's work is the creative freshness that time has not tarnished

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Self-portrait of Stanić, Photo: Red Peristyle
Self-portrait of Stanić, Photo: Red Peristyle
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

(Continued from last Saturday)

Certain innovations, immanent in the given concept and manifested in the visual and content structure of the picture, were noted after Stanić's stay in Italy during 1973. The primary factors of the modality on this level are the direct acquaintance with the problems of the masters of the early Italian Renaissance and the adoption of some postulates of metaphysical painting. George de Chirico - "paint of silence". Narrative ephemerality in relation to the elements of fine art, a smaller number of plastically shaped and partly distorted figures, a synthesized drawing, a freer color palette with pronounced shading and light intensity, form a roadmap for new creations. The previously expressed tendency of development in relation to the problem of the construction of the spatial world is now characterized by architecture as a scenography and an interesting perspective, which is sometimes the result of geometrical research, and sometimes the expression of "emotional effects", with reminiscences from the heritage of surrealism and the metaphysical Dekirk process, especially in establishing relationships figures, objects and spaces. The space is sometimes treated Magritte-like, in fact as a "region of deceit". Elements from the metaphysical-surrealist context are especially present on canvases with Roman squares, the imaginary stage of plebeian entertainment. Those creations are very reminiscent of Fellini's anthology film Amarkord - a satirical drama with a series of surreal sequences amidst the "circus of social rituals." Namely, "as in Amarkord the whole life takes place in one square in Rimini, so in these paintings the square is the place of the great performance of life."

Great square, a canvas from 1975, is an essential set of dramatic images from the precipice of a dream, which confirm the fact that Stanić does not hold exhibitions in order to integrate various motifs into the framework of his paintings. A series of details essential for the overall meaning and artistic conception are the peculiarities of a great score, created by creative imagination and refined language. The tragedy of life's vegetation and alienation of man in time and space is presented in a darkly humorous way. The head of a cripple with crutches, framed by a black frame, is reminiscent of a death certificate, and makes this episodic figure the center of attention. This procedure is repeated in several works, giving the impulse to the figures to emerge in the foreground, with the illusion of leaving the frame of the picture. These seem to be the rudimentary steps of mirror formation in some later works, although not completely completed in the sense of the Dutch painting tradition, in which the mirror enables the doubling, actually the interweaving of the levels of reality.

The evolution in the treatment of the human figure - from a dose of anonymity, close to a naïve manner, to a complex characterization - was greatly encouraged by the adoption of the characteristics of Renaissance portrait painting. With subtle psychological immersion and concentration of attention on physiognomy, he reveals types of temperaments, realizing them in the level of "emotional realism", with mild recurrent deformations. Sharpness and precision of contours, along with cohesive modeling, now characterizes the processing of various types, in principle taken from the authentic world.

The portrait carries neurotic tension and tragedy A woman who drinks, from 1975, provoking a sense of unease with its vitality and relentless clarity. By researching the anatomical structure of the bones of the head, with a face chosen by time and vice, an elongated nose - typical of "ancient drinkers" - pale and stiff eyes, a strong characterization was achieved. A note of cold gray tonality contributes to the agonizing affectation animated by this character, which irresistibly reminds many typical characters from German art, which often evoke identical feelings.

In the theme, the landscape is more present, shaped in a range from modern-naive to neo-metaphysical vocation. The local color, previously emphasized, recedes and primacy is given to expressionistically expressed color in the scale of the author's sentiment. Sometimes they are Arcadian topos, realized with a harmonious tonality of yellow and slightly green, clothed in the nostalgia of light (canvas Red from 1982).

All the given registrations are a confirmation of the vitality, character and alchemical power of Stanić's painting. Armed with years, he changes his style a little. The treatment of the form has become freer, "the movement of the tail is larger, flexible and energetic." What fascinates him in his work is the creative freshness that time has not tarnished. It is exemplarily confirmed by the canvas Concert from the year 2000, woven like the others "between waking and sleeping". The marionette orchestra plays nocturne, standing halfway in the water, which, together with the sleeping city, slowly clothes them with the nothingness of time and transience. As a monk faithful to his chosen path, he thus built a painter's palace - the apotheosis of the power of human imagination, mysterious and magical - almost following the long-written thought "that only what is clear is not in memory but in eternity."

In addition to the already presented technical peculiarities of Stanić's procedure, it should be emphasized that the flawless performance is a confirmation of complete mastery of the craft; the calligraphic instinct in the drawing is in the function of defining the form and is not neoclassical; absence of color dissonance; the dominance of the basic tone; a series of miraculous staffages. Stanić paints directly with oil on canvas, more often with a brush than with a spatula, with a thin layer of paint, sometimes starting from drawings or colored sketches. He achieves a symphony of colors, in his own way "frescoed", with a spectrum of soft and muted colors and tonal nuances, especially yellow, whitish-blue, gray-green, brown and pink, which reflect the breath of the Mediterranean, its softness and light.

With numerous exhibitions in European and world capitals (Belgrade, Zagreb, Rome, Berlin, Prague, London, Oslo, Budapest, Moscow, Washington, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Dubai, Monaco, Venice - Biennale 1997), he built an international reputation as a great master from palette, at the same time affirming Montenegro, which with its history and its nature is almost destined for the liturgy of painting. His paintings adorn the walls of many prestigious museums and galleries, as well as private collections.

A humanist and progressive, immanent to the greats of spirituality and morality, he is always ready to respond to the challenges of the times with images and words, to stand on the side of freedom and justice, truth and beauty, as he did in the time of destruction and dehumanization in the area of ​​the former Yugoslavia, the time mindless. His publicly expressed shame due to the shelling of ancient Dubrovnik, decorated from time immemorial with the cult of beauty and the apotheosis of colors, received in time sequence the attribution of our moral patrimony.

In other words, with his ethics and his aesthetics, Vojo Stanić is a true sculptor and affirmer of the Montenegrin identity and spirit. The creations of this authenticum of time, unique spiritual wisdom and integrity, embody to El Greco thought: "Painting is not art, painting is spirit."

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