The Opening of Teodora Rakidžić’s Exhibition “Signs by the Roadside”

The inevitable, indisputable, and logical association of the name of the exhibition is the book by Ivo Andrić. The connection that the artist makes is based on the act of making and keeping a diary, which can be realised in written or artistic form.

A diary, as a separate concept, originates from literature and denotes a work in which the author records their thoughts, feelings, observations, and events. Given that it is a type of autobiography, there are similarities it shares with a memoir. However, unlike memoirs, which imply the subsequent recollection of certain periods of life and their observation with temporal and emotional distance, the diary consists of records that are created under the immediate impression of what was experienced. Its filling often takes place continuously and becomes part of the routine for a long period of time.

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The homage to Andrić lies precisely in his recording of everyday life and his environment, which he “depicts” through the told stories of people or his own, which become universal and general because he frees them from accurate and precise identities. Situations and events are reflections of only one (his) perspective and impression, which can be completely different for the reader, thus defending its universality. It is precisely in this variability that they survive through the time that the writer provided for them and are additionally refined with his gift to convey potential sensibility, his or someone else’s, personal or overall.

The backbone of the writer and painter is the documentary nature of their works, which is only an initial idea, and it is upgraded with artistic handwriting, personal sensibility, and energy charge. Artists visually or narratively document the experience, simultaneously making memories of it that connect the past and the future and participate in temporality and certainty. While a writer may narrate from the different ages of his characters, an artist processes time through the different periods of a day’s life through the changing dimension of light. This is precisely where the fluid potential of light shines, which is interesting and inspiring to her in her technical and artistic research. Teodora instinctively chooses the frame she encounters, after she feels a special connection, she freezes it with the camera, that photograph stores the moment of realisation and recognition, it becomes the point from which she creates her work. Photography is not a spontaneous and thoughtless click-moment, it visually unites the interior of the artistic being at one moment and the environment that emits identical transcendence at the same moment. Teodora records her comment on the photograph with her painting capacities and creates an artistic composite that goes beyond initiation itself.

The dynamics of one work are more complex and vibrant through the displays of contrast and duality. Here we see it through the diversity of structuring and the materialisation of surfaces, where the relief is achieved by adding sand to the paint, and tactility is also an important component. On the other hand, flatness is achieved with subtle glazes. In addition to that difference in surfaces, there is also a contrast in the combination of swirling, elusive light and rigid, solid architecture. In addition to these two most dominant elements in the works, signs (beside the road) appear in this series, which are formally traffic signs but also have an ideological and symbolic function.

Although Cuca Sokić and Nedeljko Gvozdenović often represented interiors as places of intimacy, in addition to the conditional visual impression and poetics that can be relied on in their works (through the closeness of artistic recognition), the artist succeeds in transferring the lyricism of the intimate to the public space. With that, she built an aura with which that outer space emits something personal, secret, and hidden, like an inner (space).

A self-portrait in the form of a shadow often appears in some of the first works. Later, it formally disappears, abstracting it while managing to depict its presence in environments that exude the atmosphere of De Chirico. Teodora’s spaces hide the secret of “passers-by” and reveal it to those with an open and sensitive sensibility. A mystical and mysterious moment is the one before sunrise or sunset, the subtle struggle of light and darkness in its finest performance becomes a ravel and peace on her canvases.

On the way from one feeling or state to another, Teodora draws signs with her paintings that will always bring her back to a certain manifestation, show the way to herself, or at least to what she could feel, realise, express, and then show to others through her paintings.

“Sometimes this whole colourful daily reality of our life hangs like a thin curtain and we, for a moment, see what is behind it. It makes us dizzy, we get carried away by a light faint that quickly passes, but after that we keep a long memory of that moment, as a knowledge that invigorates us and gives us the strength to endure this reality to which we are condemned.”

Ivo Andrić, Signs by the Roadside

Mira Vujović

Art historian

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