Postcard from Macedonia

13/09/ 2017 - 05/01/ 2018

On this occasion, the Museum continues the series of study exhibitions related to its collection, with a museological and individually curatorial approach. The idea is to point out some references to the area ​​depicting the view, but also to the general environment in Macedonia. The beginning is clearly marked by the works of the founders of modernism in Macedonian art. The postcard as a constitutive content in these works of art in which it appears as a complex of sights, symbols, and meanings touch the multiple critical areas that carry out theoretical excursions through the history of contemporary art, respecting the regularly mandatory aesthetic categories, but also those which declaratively move away from them.

The date of the “birth of modern” in Macedonia in 1925 (late or provocative enough for our environment) marked the beginning of contemporary Macedonian art. Our history of art constantly tries to demarcate the moments of the somewhat earlier accepted profiling of profane or sacred painting, without any specifically defined artistic tendencies. We have accepted and mastered them, in this case only with signs that have an illustrative essentialist worldview.

So through certain classical modalities, which leave behind or neglect the mimicry of literal meanings, this exhibition concept was started, stimulated, first of all, by the specific works from the collection of MSU, Skopje. The titles of the presented samples often initiate the theme of the exhibition, at the same time opening the possibility to add connotations derived from their visual impression, more or less tied to the concrete realization. We also treat the details used as key templates as benchmark inserts, especially when the status of the work is set to varying degrees in a role to distance itself from traditionalism, encompassed in a broad framework, with the intention of opening a relaxed attitude towards the world. D. Shumka’s Amphorae, Svetieva’s Cart, Stefanov’s packed ceramics have the clear purpose of demystifying the archeology of our environment. Such examples are frequent, but at least lacking in the almost clear remittances for associativeness of the subject entity, for example in Shijak’s Musanders, Shumkovsky’s Verandas, Anastasov’s Gates, Mazev’s Monastery Landscape, Velkov’s Bridal Jewelry, Shemov’s Oov Smoker, iconic challenges of Kondovski, Lozanoski’s Tobaccos, Risteski’s Nivjeto, Gegoski’s similar landscape vedutes, Beqiri’s Grey Line (Blace), B. Nikoloski’s Machine, etc. Ornamental depictions, tied to ancient characteristics, mark the art of a generation that is not burdened by any time interval. The works of Tsapev, Kondovski, Grchev or Vrentsovska are united in the established….? visual conception.

The implementation of relatively “fresh” events on the art scene complements the thought tied to the real view of the “appearance” or representation of Macedonia. However, we often find it in the relation of regional events, as a kind of reaction to P. Nikoloski, B. Maneski, N. Prlja, Vangeli, etc., but also as individual examples that possess close visual reflections.

From there arose the dilemma of how to determine the title of the exhibition and how to follow the itinerary of the exhibition. In the collection we find examples that do not neglect the concrete, mostly landscape view and register the moments in a certain period tied to the past century. As an example, we were first served by the works of foreign authors who mostly only experienced the atmosphere in Macedonia in a moment: Hisleitner, Svechnjak, Stancic, Teleri, Augustincic, Gert… For each of them there is a story, an imaginary representation of our space. Around 1932 Emi Singer Hisleitner, a painter from Austria, traveled the Balkans, so in Skopje she painted them with a record passion, choosing the old Turkish core of Skopje, which she later gave away. The Croatian painter Vilim Svechnjak, who is known as a member of the Zemja group, had a similar trip after the war, in 1948. stayed in Skopje and routinely registered the old architecture of the city. Stancic was inspired by the earthquake and painted the destroyed center of Skopje. Telleri prefers the Yugoslavia-Macedonia relationship and through a symbolic representation determines the difference between these two locations. Augustincic, loved to ennoble the image of Tito. Tito was the president of SFRY, who for almost half a century, and even today, is a cult figure in our environment (by the way, the two documented interventions of Bužek: Tito-Bužek), so he donated this sculpture. Although with a manner of academic realism, he emphasizes the striking features of his character. Gert has friends in Macedonia and he recorded moments from Galicnik with his camera. Similar relations exist among the artists who left Macedonia: Petlevski, Avramova, Damjanovski, Stefanov, P. Nikoloski, etc. Thus Petlevski, although he lived in Croatia, painted one of his most impressive works, Macedonian Village from 1957, and B.Avramova also sculpted the Mountaineer from the Tetovo area in Zagreb, while Bojidar Damjanovski, who has lived for a long time in Belgrade, painted the fresco of Archangel Gabriel from Kurbinovo . Despite everything, they kept coming back to topics related to her. It is important to mark the persons who constitute, first of all, the cultural, less often the political landmark. This was particularly the case with Tsitso (later also in Mihailov’s caricatures), although his predecessors Martinoski, Lichenoski, Kodjoma, Belogaski, Vladimirski, Aceski or Todorovski recorded the moments characteristic of the Macedonian region or a person who lives and survives in the long and stormy transformations of social reality. Ethnological signs are observed through the works of Temkova and Protuđer, and the “recycled” reality of Karadare is also close, followed up in the hyper-realistic characters of Frangovski’s everyday life.

This kind of presentation works and gives results even outside the framework referred to as factography, which moves along the path of independent respect for the analytical discourse. As a conditionally accepted illustrative material compared to the examples listed, the exhibition itself stands in parallel, which includes photographs by Janevski, Dimeski, Veljanov or Blazev, a little more involved with Manchevski.

In fact, this exhibition produces results beyond the presented implications. The content of the exhibition is determined through the material from the Museum’s fund, and of course its meaning and consequences are established precisely through the selected samples.

The expected already modified presentation approach (chronological, thematic, formally aesthetic) is slightly respected, but the moment of preferring unexpected effects through works that are not enough in the specific context, and yet in a role to assimilate the dynamism of this setting. For example why Picasso and Calder? They are part of the process of establishing the image of this Museum and the city, and they directly or indirectly through donations addressed the citizens of Skopje and its earthquake tragedy, so they are rooted in the local collective memory.

Do these briefly elaborated and constituted processes in the acceptance of the offered views complete the idea of the Museum, to re-actualize the act of solidarity, understood in a wider context. Through the preconceived settings, they practically reflected the sense of the meaning of this moment, with the intention of devising the literal final benefit, especially from the earthquake. In fact, this time too we start from these reference impulses, which through an enigmatic path leads us to a forgotten act of introducing real codes.

The different use of the “postcard” as a dominant content is set in the works of our numerous fine artists: Avramovski, Traikoski, Perchinkov, Lulovski, Penushliski, D.Manev, Hadji Boshkov. Starting from traditional manners, through pseudo-modernist mystifications with an expanded scope of this term and the role of this topic, it also penetrates into current art in which a new freer or complex artificial existence of the art object with a postmodern sign is allowed: V.Blazheska and B.Grabuloski , Atanasoski, Pavleski, Cvetkov, O. Musovic, Jankuloski, Janashlieva, Tosevski, Ivanovska, Chalovski, the already mentioned Vangeli, Prlja, etc.

Each of them makes the step with partially universal references, simultaneously shaping the image of the current situation in society (elections, rhetoric, anthology, globalization, integration…). Postmodernism, i.e. post-conceptualist discourse, opens the spectrum of a different look at the situations they themselves face and react to.

This, however complex presentation, marked the goal in which it is inevitable to explain an artistic theme, so that these examples also illustrate a small historical retrospection of modernism and postmodernism with strong connections that can obviously show “how Macedonia looks” despite the use in the imposed reduced manner.

The concept of what is presented is within the word “postcard”. It is understood as a general view of something specific – a city, an area, a landscape. The choice of the specific motif must be an act of choosing something that represents itself and refers to the presentation of something that is wider than it, and that, the chosen motif, is a representation of that which is wider than it. That is why the “postcard” must be some kind of “condensed” general representation. Its structure is generally applied in the mass media as an element of the “sweet world of desires”, but with this exhibition we wanted to show that this peculiarity – the peculiarity of condensing some representations and relations – can also serve in presentations of a different character.

The view of Macedonia in such a set conceptual overview is based on the logic of postcards (already an anachronistic product of postal communication), which are positioned mainly as a separate “staff” that may also be in the function of advertising. In this sense, is this criterion satisfied, or is a wider spectrum of absorption of impressions that are insufficiently explicit enabled?

Marika Bochvarova Plavevska, senior curator


On the cover: Nehat Beqiri, Grey Line (Blace), 2001, mixed media on canvas, 101.5 x 121.5 cm. Work from the painting collections of the MSU Skopje, reference no. 04158


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