Artistic Freedom: New Reality


Igor Marsenić an artist from Belgrade presented his new monumental paintings executed in the oil on canvas technique at the exhibition "New Reality" held in Gallery Zvono. Abstract motives of the circle, the form that symbolically represents the divine, infinite and perfect are repeated on Igor Marsenić's canvases in the form of a freed geometric "pattern" and can thus easily trick an inexperienced or impatient observer into thinking that they deal with design, decorative art or graphic print.

Immersing oneself into the diversity of seemingly similar forms that create a certain rhythm by their position on the canvas, like an abstract musical code one discovers the meticulous, committed and exhausting artist's work, an endless series of brushstrokes and the artist's desire to set into motion a psychological drama for himself and thus embark upon a path of revoking the conscious ego, of metamorphosis and catharsis by repeating the same motif as a kind of mantra or prayer. Thus, Marsenić's paintings cannot be positioned within any known artistic or social context but they represent a reality for themselves a "new reality" that the artist seeks on the other side of thought or feeling.
Marsenić himself says that one should approach the process of painting without any prejudice and that one should paint "incorrectly" and differently from the way one was taught. Paintings should be allowed to "self realize themselves" and not to be created. As a samurai who before a battle enters the state of mushin – state of "no mind and no ego" Igor Marsenić "battles" with the challenge of the white canvas during his painting process and thus separates his mind from any kind of thought and ego, allowing the hand to freely draw the (im)perfect circular forms.
Thus, Marsenić's circles evoke yet another Zen Buddhist tradition: enso a Japanese calligraphic form, which is drawn in a moment symbolizing the Absolute, the Universe, and the Divine Emptiness, as well as being a creative expression of the moment when the mind allows the body to express itself in a way that simultaneously reflects the aspiration towards and opposition to the ideal of perfection.

The universal language of Igor Marsenić's works is certainly one of the reasons why the public appreciates his paintings not only in Belgrade but also in Paris, Moscow, Vienna, Miami and other cities where he had solo shows or was presented within the programme of Gallery Zvono (that exclusively represents him) at several fairs of contemporary art. “New Reality” will be remembered as one of the most outstanding exhibitions held in Gallery Zvono this season.

Ljiljana Tadić

From Pop To Op

The recognition and acknowledgment of abstract painting in contemporary art world is mainly attested by numerous institutions that, during of 2005-2006, exhibited it is as a part of their program thereby legitimizing it.
Paintings of the Frenchman Robert Malaval from the seventies were rehabilitated during prestigious Lyon Biennale, while the great retrospective exhibition of the artist made up the first historical exposition at the most progressive Parisian institution-the Palais de Tokyo. At the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic at the MOMA P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre as part of The Painted World exhibition, a selection of the artists of different generations were presented (Wayne Gonsales, Yayoi Kusama).
These artists appeared to be more concerned with how the world felt then with how the world looked. Very similar to Malaval, but by far more geometrically precise, Marsenić's canvases testify concentration, the devotion to painting abstract circles and the abandonment of figurative art. Like certain selected American artists, Igor Marsenić establishes his own principle, offering a sensual understanding of space and accustoming the perception of the viewer. Marsenić's opus developed from pictures inspired by popular culture that were wrapped in plastic bags and reffered to the ephemeral character of everyday life in consumer society, across the deconstruction of mass media images achieved by reduction to pixels, to complex optical illusions that manipulate space.
Although always affective, the materialization of Marsenić's pictures is never complete, because the dimensional play acts as a mecjanism of constant deconstruction that is repeatedly reactivated and, therefore, extends the intake of the work itself. Different approaches towards art, either as of a founding principle, or as a momentary experience aren't in conflict inthis case, because Marsenić's molded and recognizable action enables the manipulation of atmosphere and transcending the environment. Even though it is possible to draw a parallel with the rigid aesthethic framework of sixties minimalism, the atmosphere his pictures create is completely individual. Reffering to the sixties in one of the titles, Marsenić reminds us of the period during which ideas on modernist design were shaken.

Opposite to modernist design which was considered to be an autocratic, faceless movement that aimed towards mass standardization and ignored the needs of the individual, Marsenić's paintings incline towards the wild and colorful spirit of innovative and revolutionary sixties, which were determined by a complex network of cultural and political events. Without any direct opposition of socio-political concepts, Marsenić has, in the last three series of paintings, been focused, if not on the creation of a new reality, then at least, on the individual contribution to the process of shifting the exsisting.
The fact that abstract art amphasizes sensory impressions on the account of ideas makes us think that Marsenić's paintings aren't ethically or politically defined. However, if the sensory experience is considerd to be an incomprehensible state, then it is possible to construct political subjectiveness different from the one defined by the here and now.

Maja Ćirić