THE AUTHOR ON HIMSELF AND ON ART
THE VILLAGE is located on the east side of the foot of the Pelister, but in front of the village there is a section of Baba Mountain which closes the view from the side of the sunrise. Because of it, in Nižopole the sun rises one hour later. And on the west, because of Pelister, the sun sets an hour earlier. Well, where should I complain that in my childhood two hours were taken away from me every day and I watched the sun less?
VERY OFTEN we used to go and play in Maku’s mill, Pande’s father. I do not know why, but somehow it was nice to hear the rhythm of the clattering mill while it ground flour. The problem was that the path to the mill led by the village cemetery. And I was afraid to pass there, so I often ran by it.
In the mountain I could ramble all day alone and I was not afraid of anything, except when I went through a thick forest or in a gully, when I felt discomfort, some fear. I could escape that fear, but I couldn’t set free from the fear I felt while passing by the cemetery. It was fear heavy like eternity.
THE FIRST POST-WAR generation in school in Macedonian language. Naturally, we had no books and primers for learning, but we learned more verbally and without a program. Our first teacher was Slavjanka (a partisan); perhaps she had a different name, and this was just her partisan name, I don’t know. I just remember that she was dressed in a partisan uniform. She taught us fro a short period and we mainly learned patriotic and partisan songs. Since that time, I remembered only a few verses from the song “We Won’t Stand Your Yoke”.
AT THAT TIME there wasn’t any other gallery in Skopje than “Daut Pasha Hamam,” which played the role of a small Louvre for us. Very often we went there to be fed with fine arts energy.
IN THE SUMMER OF 1957, together with Naso Bekarovski, I went looking for shops in the bazaar to write logos to earn money for a holiday in the Youth Hostel Association in Ohrid. We went into a shop for dairy products which didn’t have any logo and we offered to write one and paint a composition of dairy products.
The boss, who was probably a good heart and wanted to help us, told us: “Look, kids, I don’t know what a composition is but let’s have it.”
VIGNETTES were not interesting to me only as a source of income but on the contrary, I expressed my inventiveness and freedom. And today I am glad to remember drawing these vignettes because they were like a valve to discharge the pressure of the dull school drawing and they served to me to accumulate certain creative energy within. It was a journey in my thoughts, a creation in which everything is allowed. That’s why the vignettes, although being the smallest art input, stimulated me most. Through them I expressed my creativity in this first year of the Academy.
IN THE GRAPHICS CLASS I met Jovan Dodig from Split, who invited me that summer on a holiday. Until then I had ever seen the sea and I gladly accepted the invitation. My first impressions were deep. I think that they helped me to take the sea as my constant inspiration. Everything I read or listened or watched about the sea was now here for me to experience in some way.
APPLIED GRAPHICS slowly became dominant over the artistic one. I often thought that in future it would be my main concern if I happened to have a job in a printing or a publishing house, or in the industry. I thought I would deal with fine arts only in leisure time and only to meet my needs for painting. I didn’t even think about earning a living by painting.
THROUGH REPRODUCTIONS I became familiar with some names of contemporary art that I had never heard before, because this topic was not present and the new trends in the Academy curriculum.
I met the great names of contemporary art suddenly and spontaneously. For example, I learned about Salvador Dali in the student canteen accidentally when browsing a magazine in which his artwork “The discovery of America” was reproduced.
SINCE I HAD NO STUDIO or any working space, for several months I used to paint in the laundry in the building where I lived with my parents. It was four square meters, and there I painted my first two oil paintings and some sketches and drawings. In those four square meters, in which even the view had no opportunity to drift across that small empty space, I was in my own world. I was thinking, ‘What now? How shall I begin to make my dream of 13 years ago in Resen come true?
WHILE I STUDIED, I prepared for even deeper plunge into the essence of applied art as my life’s constant preoccupation.
Since the beginning I had conflicts with the tastes of those who wanted me to do some graphic design for a poster, a label or any other graphics solution. Most of them wanted stereotypes and common graphic design, as they would say, “something with reliable and recognizable values”. Besides, the needs of the industry for graphic design were minimal.
This is how my dream for further development in this area of artistic expression began to fade.
DESPITE ALL the biblical legends or predictions for the future and all the scenarios for the fate of planet Earth, I wanted to believe that when the scars left by major events will disappear and only faint traces of the past will remain, but also new births come, new organisms, bright landscapes, so I wanted the darkness to be past. On the deserted beaches I inhabited new roots and organisms. The blueness of the sky and the sea with the white sandy beaches immersed in the yellow and orange sun and in the red colours of the organisms, were the first signs of the existence or the birth of new life. Probably the pre-beginnings of life occurred on the seashore.
THERE’S NO ART WITHOUT FANTASY. A painting without imagination is just a mechanical transfer of items from the reality on canvas, with no sense of life or communication with the viewer. Fantasy is necessary not because the painting needs to be fantastic in content, to escape from reality, from truth, but rather because it needs to bring a sense of life and reality into the picture. With the help of imagination we create a new reality.
MY INTEREST in the surreal or the fantastic did not come as a conscious process. I think that my search for the meaning of existence, my exploration of new unknown worlds, as well as the way of communicating with the audience, was best expressed with the language of the surreal, the language of symbols and the unknown. It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t express myself with any other artistic language, but at that time it was most suitable for me and so I began to use that particular language.
A DRY ROOT with a big hole in the middle was hanging on the wall in my studio. I felt like that hole in the root constantly wanted to look at me from the wall. I cut out an eye from a magazine and I mounted it in the hole of the root. Now the eye really watched me. Thus the idea for the painting was born.
HORSES do not constitute a special cycle that begins and ends in a period of time, but they follow all my cycles and occur in a different role and with a special purpose. For example, in the ecology cycle they bring the Apocalypse, in the roots and organisms they carry life, in the fossilized shadows they represent the traces of time, and in the energies in the space they are pure energy.
ABOUT 40 YEARS AGO I expressed my admiration of Ohrid and the Ohrid Lake for the first time with watercolors. I was especially fascinated by the Ohrid streets paved with stones, the old decaying houses scarred by time. And now again, after 40 years, I admire Ohrid, or rather think about Ohrid in watercolors. In my thoughts the Ohrid Lake is a sea captured by the surrounding mountains. Only the rivers can smoothly come into and leave the lake. They are the only real connection with the sea.
I MAKE water nails and I bind Prometheus to the rocks. The sun gives away the light, the heat, the shadows – it makes both the day and the night. I am thinking and sitting in one place, at one point, I am static with dynamic thoughts.
I LEARNED ABOUT THE WATERCOLORS in the fifth grade in Bitola. They were some colored pills, but I didn’t know how to use them. I remember, I was supposed to color a drawing with folk pattern. To dissolve the paint, I spit the tablet and then using a brush I colored the drawing which in the end, frankly, was a disaster. I have no idea why I didn’t know that they were supposed to dissolve in water, when they’re called – watercolors.
PAINTING A WATERCOLOR, you travel with elation, feeling that the journey will be short and the goal will be reached quickly and therefore you can fully focus on the act of painting with maximum concentration and with mood dictated by the atmosphere of the very image. Then your mind is relaxed, your hand is calm and steady. The color begins to flow from the brush. You almost don’t notice the mixture of colors; somehow they adapt themselves where to fit. The watercolors flow through the paintbrush like blood through the veins. The paper is no longer paper, the colors are no longer colors, and all becomes a picture – a painting of a new world that has just been born.
UNTIL ONE MARCH DAY in the 1980s, in my paintings there were many black holes, cyborgs and unknown aircrafts, bleeding wounds, dumping grounds with a stench of rotten iron, rusty fruits, stale waters in dead rivers, inhospitable landscapes and forbidden zones.
With the emergence of a new cycle “roots and organisms,” new worlds were born with a lot of light, a lot of blue and a wide range of warm colors that breathe with life.
THE IDEA IS NOT A FLASH that suddenly appears in your head, nor is it a clear vision that should only be transferred to the canvas. Ideas are the result of extensive sketching and collecting impressions of those things that excited me or interested me to see them as paintings. The sketches I collected many years ago, seemingly forgotten, just wait for the day to be realized because they are the sparkle which should fuel the fire of the future painting.
THE PAINTINGS don’t intend to compete with each other and to prove which one is better painted, more awarded or exhibited. Each painting represents the time of its birth, tells the author’s opinions and reveals what was talked or written about it.
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER I took such adventures with less preparation, with more unknowns and more desire to conquer the canvas. The empty canvas would stand on the easel for a few days and would wait for the fight to start. Sometimes this fight would last for several months. Often I felt like I was in an arena where there is no deviation, no escape, no surrender. There was only the fight and only one winner, there was no tie.
DOES ANY CANVAS or paper which have some colors, which should mean something and which is framed stand for a painting?
In the beginning, to me a painting was a part of nature successfully transferred on paper. The truthfulness of the transferred landscape on the paper was an indicator of the success of the painting. Later, it wasn’t enough, but also the skill and the ease with which the painting was created should be felt. Normally, then I began to analyze the painting and evaluate the artistic elements in it, such as the drawing, the composition, the color, the content and so on.
And now I wonder again: what is the picture? A transferred part of nature, a conveyed feeling, an experience, a dream placed on the canvas or a projection of the author’s visions from his subconsciousness?
I WATCHED THE PAINTING that was perfectly and craftily painted, with all the elements realistically conveyed, and the content was clear.
I tried to find a fault or some other imperfection, I wanted to begin some dialogue with it, but I failed. The painting kept me at a distance, didn’t let me make a closer contact with it. I watched it expecting it would tell me something, I thought it surely had some message inside.
But despite all its beauty, it remained silent for me. Then I realized that this painting was for viewing only, and not for communicating with me.
IF THE PAINTING you are watching doesn’t come out of its frame and doesn’t come into you, it means you have no dialogue with it. There are paintings that impose themselves at first glance, and some are accepted gradually and for a long time, just like archaeologists discovering artefacts. Then, others say many things, but when you separate from them, you forget them or you remember them for a short time. But some paintings speak little, and make you think about them for a rather long time.
THE HAND is the bridge over which thoughts and feelings pass on the canvas, and the eyes are the airlift from where the picture goes into the soul.
THERE ARE many different theories about the drawing, but it is indisputable that it is the foundation and the architecture of the artwork.
The lines in a drawing can be made with various drawing materials and different techniques. They may be technically rational or sensitive, aggressive or peaceful, timidly broken or continuously steady. In the drawing they can peacefully pass one over the other without colliding, follow the forms of objects, intertwine, disappear and reappear. And they can be arrogant, aggressive, uncontrolled or insensitive. That’s why it is said that you can see everything in the drawing, only if you know how to read it.