Lyrical Processes – Aleksandra Popović

11/10 - 26/11

The painting of Aleksandra Popović

Even though Aleksandra Popović’s painting has been described in numerous texts as sublime, we might claim that perhaps it is beyond the division into the beautiful and the sublime. As Barnett Newman states in his essay “The Sublime is Now,” American abstract painting attempts to free itself from the burden of European culture and to answers unobstructed and without taking into consideration questions of beauty. The heritage of American 20th century abstract painting influenced Popović before and after the time she spent in New York. Her paintings, liberated from the imperative to “represent” anything become dynamic compositions bearing meanings that may be completely personal to anyone standing before them. The spirit of Abstract Expressionism is felt in the brushstroke, which is somewhere between being whimsical and controlled, in the composition that reveals the inner tension between order and chaos, and finally, in that it completely diverges from the starting point mostly expressed as landscape. Building the painting comes first, as the legacy since Cézanne, and is followed by liberating the composition of firm structure brought about by American abstract painting, and ultimately, balancing between structure and intuition as it occurs in the contemporary approach. Colour is a particular and one of the most important dimensions of this painter’s work – it is carefully combined to maintain both strength and lyricism, while its fine nuancing softens the raw power of the gestural. Motion is another important dimension of her work – gesture, from De Kooning and Pollock, Frankenthaler and Mitchell, has become a symbolic signifier of artistic freedom to be engaged exclusively with form. As Motherwell finely put it: “There is something splendid about the form of motion, or, more exactly, motion formed.” That exceptionality is even more pronounced when motion, as in Popović’s paintings, is both subtle and intense simultaneously.

Nevertheless, paintings are not completely lacking in reference. The templates for paintings showcased in this exhibition are often landscape photographs with water. The qualities of water are evident in the approach to painting. Dynamics and permanence in constant transformation have, since Heraclitus, attracted the interest of philosophers and artists. Water is a symbol of impermanence as the quality of natural processes. Just as water flows continuously, so we cannot encounter one and the same natural process. Heraclitus says that nature tends to its opposite and from that creates harmony, not from the same, and obviously, this is what art also does by imitating nature. Dan Bergman has called Popović’s painting a study in contradictions, because it encompasses also methodical studies of the drawings, composition and impulsivity of expressionist gestural painting. It is precisely in this successful attempt to encompass contradictions that we find the quality of painting before us. Today, it is especially important to keep complexity and contradictions in mind, because banality and simplification can only lead to even greater aesthetic and social discord.

Showcasing the works of Aleksandra Popović at Novembar gallery shows that abstract art is not dead, that it has managed to avoid the seductive challenge of kitsch and nostalgic sentimentality in terms of historical movements. It succeeds in showing that the world the artist perceives and feels has many color values, and the photographs we endlessly produce daily may serve as the starting, but never the final point of thinking about ourselves as well as nature and artistic form. The paintings before us bring us to a halt, slow down time and take us back to ourselves.

Curator and author of the text: Ana Simona Zelenović