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Radomir Reljić

Radomir Reljić, photo by: Vladimir Popović

Radomir Reljić, was a painter, university professor and member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU)whose art, vital spirit and lucid personality made him one of the great artists of our art scene of the second half of the 20th century. Among artists and friends he was known by the nickname Johnny, which he got at the Academy in 1956, as one of the few Belgraders who wore Levi Strauss jeans at the time. Reljić was a man of subtle creativity, with a social reputation of being a favorite but also controversial artist, who sublimated his delicate sensitivity to the phenomena of society / the time and his critical attitude into a visual vocabulary of symbols, metaphors of which irony was an integral part, which he used to say was, "humor of a higher order, it improves the conscience of the petty bourgeois, forces him to acquire a conscience. " His work is characterized both by a distinctive world of figuration (man, plants, skeletons, centaurs, aircraft…), a sort of creative reception of reality and an imaginative evocation of his childhood experiences and life in the then Great Bečkerek (today Zrenjanin). Eroticism occupies an important place in the long series of symbols in Reljić's painting and the female nude functions as a visual representative of life's joy and reminiscence of the archetypal state of human purity. He saw his dedication to painting almost as a priestly vocation that required asceticism, hard work, patience, renunciation and hope. His studio, in the attic of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, was a personal microcosm filled with family photographs and unusual objects that he collected. Instead of a palette, he used a porcelain plate jokingly emphasizing that he does not paint his canvases but feeds them from that plate. Reljić's work was followed and affirmed by numerous critical reviews. Aleksa Čelebonović said that Reljić would have been a great poet if he were not a painter. At the opening of Reljić's retrospective exhibition in the SANU Gallery (1996), Ljubomir Simović pointed out that his works depicted both the carnivalesque and hellish presenting at the same time horror and the joy, chastity and ugliness, the sacred and the grotesque, thus representing a genuine realm of the ambiguous.

Radomir Reljić's debut solo exhibition of paintings was held in the Graphic Collective Gallery in 1961. It was the beginning of a continuous dialogue with this Artists' Home, a rhythm of exhibiting every decade (1972, 1981, 1991, 2001) that provided an insight into the creative flow of this virtuoso of drawing and the founder of a special authorial concept of new realism in our art. The following exhibitions were dedicated to the medium of drawings, and in February 1972, he exhibited together with Slobodan Mihailović.
The poetic and problematic logic of the development of Reljić's expressive drawing ,where the existential, mythical, erotic charge and transposition of the absurdity of everyday life meet, was visible at the exhibition dedicated to Ana Čolak-Antić held in October 1981. Elaborating on Reljić's motifs and the way he composed the scenes, Bora Ćosić wrote in the catalog foreword about the "museum" layout and mise-en-scène based on the other side of profane life, about scenes with a "precisely organized commotion, structured chaos, constructed nightmare" according to the model of " Šejka's systematic disorder.” The written accounts also recorded that the exhibition was enthusiastically received by the art critics. Slobodan Ristić linked Reljić's unconventional editing process of partitioning, decomposing and decentralizing his drawings with the influence of film, comics and posters, and he recognized in Reljić's resistance to the anomalies of the modern moment " views of a skeptic, more prone to irony than criticism" (Politika, 3 November 1981)


Catalogue of the exhibition of drawings by Radomir Reljić and Slobodan Mihailović, the Graphic Collective Gallery, February 1972;
Catalogue of the exhibition of drawings by Radomir Reljić, the Graphic Collective Gallery, October 1981;

In November 1991, the exhibition Thirty Years presented two cycles of drawings Cascades, made on disassembled envelopes, and Study of Rebus I-V ,as well as several individual works. A figure with a hat dominated a number of works making it possible to recognize and interpret a self-referential /portrait element in Reljić's work.
In November 2001, the focus of the exhibition Hypnography was a drawing narrative of emphasized erotic and metaphysical individual style, whose main protagonists were a nude female figure and a uniformed soldier, with numerous historical, heraldic and literary sequences. Branko Kukić wrote in the catalog foreword, that Reljić was the loneliest person in contemporary Serbian painting, a monarchist whose kingdom was within him, a melomaniac, collector, centauries, Šejka's and Kiš's friend, a European in manners and ideas, an artist for whom art was a form of enlightenment, purification and initiation.

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović


Catalogue of the exhibition of drawings by Radomir Reljić "Thirty Years", the Graphic Collective Gallery, November 1991;
Catalogue of the exhibition of drawings by Radomir Reljić "Hypnography", the Graphic Collective Gallery, November 2001;


Radomir Reljić, The Officer at the Window, 1961, drawing;
Radomir Reljić, Herald, 1998, drawing;
Radomir Reljić, Artillery Officer, 1999, drawing;

Radomir Reljić (1938. Skopje - 2006. Belgrade), graduated in 1961 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade under mentorship of prof. Zoran Petrović and at the same Academy in 1963 he completed specialist studies under mentorship of prof. Zora Petrovic and Milo Milunovic. Since 1988, he has been a full professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade for the subject of painting and drawing. During his study travels, he stayed in Italy, Austria, France, Germany, and Canada. He was elected a full member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1997. He was a member of ULUS and ULUPUDS. He has held more than 20 solo exhibitions abroad (Belgrade, Valjevo, Nis, Zagreb, Split, Ljubljana, Florence, Geneva). In 1996, Reljić's retrospective exhibition was organized in the SANU Gallery. Laureate of several awards: Politics Award (1965), Award at the exhibition "Peace, Humanity and Friendship among Nations" Slovenj Gradec (1965), First Prize at the III Triennial of Yugoslav Art (1967), Third Prize at the exhibition "Werke der 2. internationalen" Malerwochen auf Schloss Retzhof bei Leibnitz ”(1967), Grand Plaque of the University of Arts (1988), Award of the XVIII Memorial of Nadežda Petrović (1994). He also contributed in the field of cinematography with roles in the films "The Master and Margarita" (1972) by Aleksandar Sasa Petrović and "Occupation in 26 Pictures" (1978) by Lordan Zafranović. During the last years of his life, Reljić has been engaged in the domain of socio-political activism.



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