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The Opening of Aleksandar Paunković’s Exhibition – Limitations of contemporary man

The exhibition “Limitations of contemporary man” conceptually and thematically builds on the previous “Viziers”. Both series of works problematize different pictorial and logical ways of reading one’s vision of reality. It is impossible to see the characteristics of the attached portraits and their personal attitudes without the personal and socially determined context of the observer himself, who himself enjoys only one of the possible realities. The observer learns about the person portrayed through direct contact, face to face. By exposing facial expressions and gaze, without descriptive elements, the artist skillfully avoided a specific mediating role, leaving us to our suggestive nature in building relationships, when meeting. Cross-examination is unquestionable because of the high coefficient of the relativity of experience and perception.

 Alexandar almost completely annulled the background, leaving it monochromatic coloring without content, trying to free us from additional values ​​and parameters, directing us to a single-line track. It brings us back to the beginning, to a cause, to nature, most close to Bergson’s philosophy of the domination of intuition over reason and intellect. Only in the first works from the formative period (painting Self-Portrait and painting Hope), he constructs a dark background, re-examines the possibility of a relationship and balance between a baroque painting and a portrait and self-portrait as a contemporary fact. The contrast of light and darkness, the contrast of the modern and the anachronistic, ignorance, and curiosity are the initial impulses of the research. He makes a step towards the figure as a whole, with a substantial and illustrative background, expression of hands, emotional gaze, builds the character of a man, telling his disturbing life story with very expressive poetics (painting Stole). His nickname Stole unequivocally indicates the minimization of his life and work, his painstaking and unnoticed commitment to a simple professional vocation, insufficiently socially noted.

Limitations of contemporary man is the hyperrealism of both artistic and total reality, as its uncompromisingly naked representation. He chose a functionally adequate visual language for placing a topic from everyday life, this time, but also at any time. Small lives, intimate confessions from the artist’s environment, works breathe unconditional simple-minded sincerity, and thus evoke humane sentimentality and empathy. The painting Hope is a portrait of hope and faith in the resuscitation of an exhausted and missing species – Renaissance personalities, versatile interests, and various occupations. Images Limitation of Contemporary Worker, Portrait of a Father, and Portrait of a Worker are portraits of workers, people without academic education, lower position on the ladder of business hierarchy, but with brilliant and concrete ideas for improving work. However, their innovations are not valued, their mastery for pragmatic solutions is challenged and concealed by authorities with higher competencies. This is not about the negative influences of mechanization and robotics of modern society, but about bad, contaminated interpersonal relationships, about the inability of a man to overcome vanity and pride. The portrayed individuals of society, both erudite and manual workers, are equally quoted, because only with their knowledge do they place and promote themselves, we read dissatisfaction and helplessness on their faces. People without manipulative abilities, faithful to their basic ethical principles, are more susceptible to social alienation. The catchphrase Mind your own business is unusable and non-functional in the current distribution of values.

The portraits of children (paintings Little Aca and Contemporary Childhood I and II) are very reduced descriptive information, only certain types of visors (glasses) they use appear, which symbolically actualize potential problems caused by modern technologies on youth development. It remains unclear for an indefinite period of time, uncertainty about the potential consequences in their later years, after consuming new age products.

The painting Jelena is an iconic painting, a synopsis of an intention narrative. A completely reduced portrait of the girl, without painting relics that would socially mark the artist’s identity, testify to the public in which she is invisible. The arbitrariness of her future affirmation on the professional level is under the weight of already seen limitations that are similar for workers in manual activities, as well as for workers in culture – artists.

The artist opted for the classic definition of portraiture, quiet and unobtrusive facial expressions, modest gestures, the observer encounters withdrawn characters of strong, compressed emotion, noticed in the eyes. “Little people” – big formats, small destinies – global consequences, opportunism and honesty on the seesaw of normative values ​​are painted with precise, sharpened and meticulous artistic performance of Aleksandar Paunković.

Mira Vujović

Art historian

Translated by Mira Vujović

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