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Emir Dragulj

During the four decades of his creativite practice, Emir Dragulj, printmaker and professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, achieved a striking aesthetic and lyrical poetic discourse in the domain of new figuration with his achievements in the corpus of printmaking of the second half of the 20th century. Proving the Latin phrase nomen est omen, Dragulj's oeuvre is a treasure trove of etching gems (Serb. dragulj - gem, jewel; t/n), and as a devotee of the Hamaguchi brotherhood, he was dedicated to the demanding technique of mezzotint. The author's conception is rooted in the technique itself, in whose expression one can read the meticulous author's handwriting, polished to perfection. The energetic potential and magical atmosphere of Dragulj's prints are condensed in that perfection; through a concentrated composition the artist sublimated everyday local impressions in the spirit of native paintings into a metaphysical space of tranquility and timelessness. In his pedagogical work, Dragulj gained the reputation of an exemplary professor, and the reflections of his fluid artistic voice continued, as an echo, in the modified creative art forms of his spiritual relatives in the next generation.


E. Dragulj, portrait; E. Dragulj, Parents, 1973, aquatint in color, 65x50 cm, Great Seal Award; Catalog of the exhibition of Emir Dragulj at the Graphic Collective in 2007.

In the beginning of the 1960s, Dragulj, like most artists of that time, belonged to the structuralist orientation. Never fully entering the realm of abstraction, the figure in his early works was part of an ornamentalized foundation. Later, he developed a more narrative and symbolic approach, somewhat naïve and strange projections of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian idyllic setting, with which he constantly examined the existentialist themes of duration and transience. Through the oneiric and nostalgic elaboration of motifs like home, family, heritage, landscape, Dragulj approached the tendencies of neo-romanticism. The atmosphere of his works is created in deep tonal modulations, especially in still lifes; criticism noted the formal and conceptual closeness to Eastern miniatures embodied in the art of the famous Hamaguchi. Contextualizing the work of Emir Dragulj, art historian Ljiljana Slijepčević pointed to the origin of the artist's expression, deeply embedded in the mentality of the environment from which he came, "in the tradition of its filigree and silversmith craft and, of course, in his personal potentials for which he used all the acquired experiences reformulated into an impressive metaphorical expression."


E. Dragulj, Untitled, 1983, intaglio, 76x93mm; E. Dragulj, Untitled, 1997, mezzotint, 99x69mm; E. Dragulj, Two horses, 1998, intaglio, 163x99mm


E. Dragulj, Flower, 1987, mezzotint, 110x100mm; E. Dragulj, Dali, 1990/1999, drypoint, 168x127mm; E. Dragulj, Untitled, 1991, mezzotint, 64x80mm

After his debut exhibition at the Graphic Collective in 1965, Dragulj became a regular participant in the May Exhibition of Printmaking and the annual Small Format Printmaking exhibition. He is the laureate of the Great Seal Award for the year 1973, for his print entitled Parents, and the jury consisting of Miodrag Miša Popović, sculptor, Vladimir Rozić, art critic, and Marko Krsmanović, painter and printmaker, pointed out that Dragulj's work "represents a quality step forward in his distinctive artistic work in the field of printmaking. The award-winning work stands out for its strong graphic expression, which manifests a feeling for compositional conciseness and very subtle light-dark values, to which color contributes very functionally.”
A posthumous exhibition of Dragulj's small-format printmaking was organized at the Graphics Collective in December 2007, at the initiative of the artist's daughter Ema. A selection of around 100 prints from the artist's studio was presented, mapping the poetic changes on his creative path over 40 years, confirming that he was a master of the small printmaking form. The exhibition was opened by the art historian Irina Subotić, who pointed out Dragulj's virtuosity to transpose small objects into a lofty world of simplicity, harmony, silence and chastity, a kind of escape and refuge from the tyranny of reality, all through complex work and a sense for detail, tactile and layered meaning.

Translation: Dunja Karanović


Photos from the opening of Emir Dragulj's exhibition at the Graphic Collective in 2007 - the exhibition is opened by Ljiljana Ćinkul and Irina Subotić (left); Ema Dragulj (right)

Emir Dragulj (1939, Mravinjci near Goražde – 2002, Belgrade) He graduated in 1963 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, and in 1966, he completed a special course for printmaking, class of prof. Boško Karanović. He specialized in printmaking in 1966/7. at L'École de la Cambre in Brussels. Since 1964, he had numerous solo exhibitions (Belgrade, Brussels, Solingen, Ljubljana, Paris, Ankara, Stockholm, Vienna...) and collective exhibitions in the country and abroad (Belgrade, Mostar, Sydney, Berlin, Prague, Paris, Cracow, Buenos Aires, New York, etc.). Selected awards: ULUS/AFAS Gold Feather, 1964; Golden pin of ULUS, 1966; Award for printmaking at the ULUS/AFAS Spring Exhibition, October Salon Award, 1969; Third prize for drawing at the exhibition The World We Live in, Belgrade, Prize for printmaking at the sixth exhibition of SLUJ, Sarajevo, 1973; First prize for printmaking at the exhibition ‘NOB - People’s Liberation Army in the works of Yugoslav artists’, Belgrade, 1976; First prize for graphics at the Yugoslav portrait exhibition, Tuzla, 1979; Second prize for drawing at the exhibition The World We Live In, Belgrade, 1980; First prize for graphics at the Second Biennale of Miniature Art, Gornji Milanovac, 1992, and numerous other prizes. He was a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade.



Graphic Collective Gallery, Dragoslava Jovanovića 11, Belgrade, Weekdays 12 - 20h, Saturdays 12 - 17h, Sundays closed
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