essence of life
“They are not objective, but emotional. They are reflections, memories and dreams combined with his reality. Like in his poems, he is seeking for the essence of life.”
Courtesy of the artist.
BY ABRAHAM LUBELSKI
Davor Vukovic’s work is incredibly connected to his sense of environment and home, close to the sea. He describes his paintings as a recurrent image of islands and coasts. In a way, this description of his surroundings goes deeper than representation. They are not objective, but emotional. They are reflections, memories and dreams combined with his reality. Like in his poems, he is seeking for the essence of life. Over time, one notices that his paintings are existential: he finds the essence in life itself. And his varied experiences become elaborate motifs.
Stylistically, Vukovic finds his way between abstraction and action painting. His use of color is parallel to the way that French impressionists such as Monet tried to evidence the shades, the hues in the air and water. And in some of his paintings he even dabbles in a neo-cubism.
As far as influences are concerned, one can also notice similarities with the work of the Serbian painter and Vukovic’s friend, Milan Konjovic. And once the artist de Kooning was quoted as saying that “I don’t paint to live, I live to paint.” It is a sentiment that seems aptly suited to Vukovic’s personality. But influences aside, Vukovic has remained loyal to original approach, a self-educated technique. And few artists compare to his signature style.
I recently had the chance to interview him to learn more about his work and life.
Abraham Lubelski: Tell us a little bit about how you became an artist. Did you always know you would be one?
Davor Vukovic: My art and my life are the same. I live my poetry and painting. That is my life style. Thus I adore Nature for its free gifts. My gratitude for life and creativity is unspeakable. With my paintings and poetry I celebrate Nature. Nature is a major artist. And it is so beautifully natural that the painter in me is compelled into an ancient game of representing it again and again. So I’ve come to realize that art and life is nothing but amazing game. Hence I try to share my joy with everybody in my exhibits. So, thank you for receive my overflow. Giving and receiving are the way to breath.
At one time, I had to run to painting as much as I could, and I was lucky to catch up with it. In fact, I never wanted to become a painter, I wanted to play football. From eleven to eighteen years of age I was the junior star in the football club from Split. I always knew I was a talented painter, but I feared the fate of painting, as I have already experienced some tragic.
AL: Your colors are incredibly vivid. Are they rooted in nature or in imagination?
DV: My colors have their roots in nature, but I don’t mimic the colors of nature.
My color is a reflection of my appreciation for the splendor and glory I see in nature of which I am an indispensable and vital part. My colors reflect the state of joy of my being.
AL: Do you see your works as abstracted landscapes or as pure abstractions? Does it matter how the viewer interprets them?
DV: My recent paintings are a combination of classical, modern painting and action painting.They are vivid as I am and I totally do not care whether people will perceive them as a landscapes or abstractions. If they recognize the splendor and joy of life in my artworks, the deeper message is conveyed.
AL: Where do you find inspiration for your work? Do you have particular influences that you go back to, artists or writers or musicians? Are you planning any major exhibits this year that we should look out for?
DV: My inspiration is inexhaustible, because I am completely open to nature and life that current of life flows effortlessly through me. And I am always surprised by the final outcome. I can only paint one image once, because it is unique, so I can never make two identical paintings. Right now, all of my efforts are in the planning of my future exhibition in October at Broadway Gallery, NYC. I also have an offer for a solo exhibition at a London gallery and plan to exhibit there in September of 2013. I have achieved my domestic and international success thanks to my talent, hard work, and the continued support of my community.Particularly important is the support of Zapresic, Zagreb County, the Croatian Ministry of Culture, Zagreb and many other sponsors. As we anticipate Vukovic’s future works, readers can glimpse some of his most significant works to date as a preview, right here.
A moving work, Archipelago in the Night, translates as a deep blue sea, ferociously waving during the night. A touch of deep blue induces that required ray of hope. But behind the untamed waves, there is more agitation: explosions of color under a surface that is almost impermeable. This work captures the romantic impulse with stunning results. Its nature is that of appearance and concealment. It helps us identify our place in the universe as well. This work ultimately has a transforming agent in it, as we come to understand ourselves viewing this piece, and realize that nature is a dynamic presence. From an artistic point of view Romanticism dominated the last decade of the 18th century and moved well into the first decades of the 20th century. Originating first in Europe with the “Sturm und Drang” Movement of the 1770’s to its vibrant first flowering in England in the 1790’s to its importation to American soil from the 1820’s onward, Romanticism has exerted a powerful hold on Western thought and culture. And it makes perfect sense that an artist as cosmopolitan, well traveled, and talented as Vukovic has picked up on its resurgence. As Western culture has entered into a post-industrial and increasingly virtual channels of communication, Romanticism posits a return to basics. Those basics being preoccupied with articulating the personal experience that becomes, in turn, a representative one. With all abstract art, the interpretation of the audience becomes a part of the artwork. And in Vukovic’s painting, the spectator really gets sucked into the vortex of color and emotion. Especially, the pristine white, green, orange, yellow, maroon and turquoise contrasted by the subtle pink, which brings balance to this piece. This work is intense, brooding and sweetly melancholic like a Whistler or Van Gogh.
In Wind, we notice a more abrupt division in the landscape. There is an assertive, transcendental power, an ethereal field that is conjured up by this piece. This comes thought via the colors. Therein, a consoling blue haze brings peace to the canvas. The lower part of the canvas is akin to a reflection of evening light on a pond. Deep blues and bright oranges are remarkably present. Underneath the light blue brush strokes, purple and olive green dominate. But, most striking about this work, is that the whole piece seems like it is soaring. Composed of gestural hatch marks that resemble birds, it creates an effervescent, rich atmosphere that conjures up the majesty of flight.
Most unique is his work, Gentle Archipelago. It is spontaneous, more freely painted and the color palette, mature. This works captures the sensation of early morning dew or the first frost. Its cooler palette mixed with darker forms creates incredibly marked divisions. But it is his work entitled Africa, which is full of wonderful experimentation and endless imagination. Albert Einstein once wrote that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” This work encircles the viewer in a refulgent, gleaming sensation that highlights the immense creative capacity within Vukovic. This work is all about play. It is obvious that this landscape wasn’t based on the artist’s surroundings, at least not entirely. There are no signs of islands or the Croatian coastline. The artist is less familiar with this environment. There are fewer details. The heavy layer of white paint has different nuances. The mélange is still white, but less banal. It feels like part of the earth is falling, collapsing onto the sediment below. This powerful tension is present in all of Vukovic’s paintings.
Vukovic’s work is visceral, challenging and full of endless wonder. The tangled webbed lines and spatters ruthlessly slice through thick ones in a show of bravado and excitement. His work captures the human drama with his masterful use of light and dark, chaos and anxiety. And his story continues to inspire.