In Memory of My Friend Tomislav Baturina
How do we materialize thoughts and give them form, behaviour codex, guidelines for movement, and a set of properties for survival in the real world? How do we give them sanctuary and create a narration outside of a given context, a vacuum, empty space in which to measure a different weight of the kunderian unbearably light thoughts? The graphic folder of Josip Mijić belongs to the material world at the same time and leads us into a different space that opens itself up to the Plato’s exulted world of ideas. The paradox of representing the unpresentable in this world, cancels itself by taking away the primacy of logic and establishing dominance of the emphasized feeling – the feeling of pain.
The accumulation of pain that came about by layering the everyday acknowledging the fact of loss of a person, with whom the author shared his material world, managed to get through to the medium where the work does not stop when it reaches the end product. The emphasis in the graphic folder has been set to that same process, but not exclusively on the mechanical component of taming the medium but also onto the spiritual dimension of encompassing the whole piece: by layering thoughts, maturing of feelings, shaping one’s own knowledge. In the attempt to encompass abstract concepts and materializing pain, Mijić reaches for the art form that tries to set the narrative into one place.
The graphic folder, as possibly one of the most intimate shapes of the artistic medium which does not allow the mass consummation of content, but forces the viewer to face the intimate atmosphere of reading the medium, gives a wanted carte blanche in which the artist frees his monologue. The work is consumed by the divine and it is being read into the hidden Fibonacci’s sequence in 21 graphic folders, each of which has 13 pages, but also into the unrepeatability of the patterns that came out of the monotype technique. Even though one stencil connects them, and it gathers each individual graphic folder, the unrepeatability of the pattern is clearly visible and it creates the manifestation of one’s own individuality in each moment, the presence in the place and time where the Heraclitus’ prophecy of the tides as the only stable component in this world is realized. This unrepeatability carries a spark of the divine inside itself, the creator’s force that does not allow for multiple copies, but it creates a world of diversity with special care, a world where there is a given joy, and at the same time there is its counter weight, pain.
The pain, which in the author’s work is put high on the pedestal of the divinity of feeling, is susceptible to constant tides, carrying with itself a destructive potential. This potential is realized in the many variations on the topic of Josip Mijić in which one, deep pain as a stencil, remains ever present while out internal quarrels and attempts to make peace with reality, and the negation of this reality, realize themselves in the vortex that emphasizes the cyclical passing of time. In the Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera’s character studies the cyclical passing of time by observing a dog that runs constantly in a circle trying to catch its own tail. In this vortex, the dog, like Kairos, tries to catch a happy moment, its tail, but its time does not stop there because it constantly tries to catch its tail, its serotonin in a given moment. Man is not satisfied with a moment and repetition, and the cyclical time comes to one as death, eternal repetition without the possibility or sign of change. One constantly yearns for something higher, harder, something to fulfil one and in that yearning one feels itself. But pain negates that yearning, neutralizes our desire to seek and numbs the mind of the living person who feels that pain.
Because the real measurement of time in the context of pain does not exist, time does not pass, but constantly reminds the participant of the vortex of the destructive power of the repetitive feeling of emptiness. The empty time walks, that have no time variables, create rings of Mijić’s circles that take on stronger shapes in the outer membranes of the circle, alluding to the capability of the human organism to the unconscious, establishing of the defence mechanism by stripping away our feelings and creating a seemingly impenetrable membrane.
French writer André Malraux wrote about the unsuccessful beginnings of the revolution in Shanghai in 1927, in the novel Man’s fate, questioning the very meaning of life, dying, and dignity, wrapped into the spirit of existentialism. The thread that connects all larger questions of life remains in the all-encompassing feeling of pain that follows the fate of the protagonists of historical events, but this pain is another historical character that controls world events. In a seemingly passing sentence “Every man is like its pain.” Malraux will clearly point to the importance of pain that becomes a hidden subtext to each attempt of establishing dialogue. The man no longer feels only pain, but it also becomes inherent, one identifies with it and becomes its own pain.
But, how does one visualize the un-portrayable and the abstract, and, at the same time, multiply, reach the oxymoron state of repeatable uniqueness. By printing only one print, the artist tries to end the possibility of repeating the moment, the reliving of the same that leaves the space to progress, creating new forms, and the new reading of the same stencil. With the process of leaving the mark on empty pages that are filled with content and meaning, a kind of catharsis is done to the artist that introduces time as an important element of the art piece.
It is this very time line that acts as a point of diversification between individual pages of the graphic folder in which the transformation of pain from the verbal into visual language is always prone to change itself. By avoiding tan colours, Mijić does not close the pallet into an often used spectrum of color linked to the theme of pain, just the opposite, he contributes to creating abstract shapes with vivid colours. By leaving the figuration in the domain of thoughts, hidden from its own materialization, Mijić grapples with the creation of abstract portraits. These portraits are of a fickle psyche, soul movements that constantly vary, and perpetually writes its own self. Once printed, the pages are a witness to our own spiritual state that Mijić tries to stop and press the pause button in the everyday centrifuge of feeling after the painful experience of losing a loved one. Printed letters BOL (PAIN) on the cover of the graphic folder, witness the consequences this kind of experience leaves on the individual who is going through a hard time and who physically writes the word on to their surface. This person is changed after this experience and the pain becomes a part of their identity.
In his revolutionary book The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects, the American historian and sociologist Lewis Mumford, follows the history and the emergence of a city from the sociological and psychological perspective putting emphasis on the relations between people since the Paleolithic period, through the Neolithic period, until today. An important place in the shaping of cities, and the people during evolution, is the centering on the ceremonial ritual of death during which the human world is very different from the animal world. The ceremonial care for the dead which reflects itself in the careful burial and respect the man had for the deceased, according to Mumford, is proof of the living imagination and dreams of man. It is the deceased that gained their first permanent home, so we are left with temples and graves from the Egyptian civilization which, in fact, had the utmost respect for lives, but we are also left with the historical records and monuments that witness the fact that the travellers that approached a Greek or Roman city would first meet a row of graves and monuments beside the roads leading up to the cities. Mumford made a famous statement that the city of the dead is older than the city of the living. This historical thread is, even today, present in modern society that turns to ceremonies as a kind of catharsis where the collective is helping the individual to experience pain. Mijić consciously turns his work into a cathartic play of light and shadow in which hues of colour intertwine. It is those hues that witness life, the fluctuation of events, the yin-yang principle of living and feelings not easily portrayed, for they are lost in our shades of words, in the space between the said and unsaid, the portrayable and the unportrayable.
An additional perception of the hues is amplified by the thermal-chromatic ability of the print roused by the human touch that introduces a new dimension of the work of art. Changing of the art itself after the human touch, puts that touch on the pedestal of the higher exultation of life, the realisation of meaning in one, simple, light and short movement of the hand that gives a new reading of the moment. Death is, as in the ancient cities, rewritten into the fabric of Mumford’s historical communities, this time with the process of making monotypes. The lack is turned into a substitute, encouraged by the artistic work that has the ability to transform a painful feeling into a rhapsody of shapes with countless possibilities of repeatable uniqueness, an oxymoron juxtaposition that teaches us of the irony of fate that, like Kundera’s dog, constantly runs in circles playing with our comprehension of linear and cyclical movement of time. Mijić, was portrayed as Kairos in this time vortex of emotions, the god of happy moments, that turns a painful time into a creative force by portraying it into an extremely well-formed graphic folder.
The folder, in an attempt to summarize the intensity of emotions caused by the painful moment of the call and transmitting the painful news, manages to transfer its materiality into the area of metaphysics transcending the human fragility and giving it a higher, godlike dimension. Ironically, in the abstract work without figurative shapes, the artist completely bares his shapes, creating his own version of a Rorschach blot tha-t reveals the areas of the conscious and the unconscious and from which the audience can read a story. The story is that which happens on the border of all senses which the work questions and that witnesses the man’s need to run in the creative in the metaphysical space that accumulates all pain.
Mijić, in this graphic folder, does not use the word pain as a final destination, but it is represented as overture into a theatre repertoire given to the reader by request, the pain that does not hide into the spaces of the internal but emerges onto the surface revealing to the reader all shades of the transformative process.
This graphic folder contains 20 sheets of paper 30x30cm, 13 papers are prints done in the monotyping technique, screen printing, and linocut technique by dr. art. Josip Mijić, academic painter. The 7 remaining sheets were made in digital printing technique; 4 sheets contain the foreword by art historian Jelena Tamindžija, and the remaining sheets contain the cover page, Josip Mijić’s biography, and this imprint. The English translation was done by Nikola Oruč.
The paper on which this graphic folder was printed on is a 285g/m2 Fabriano Rosapina. Every author’s print has been made 21 times, each copy was numbered from 1-21. This folder has been printed one more time as a test authorial print, apart from the existing copy.