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Slavoljub Slava Bogojević

Slavoljub Slava Bogojević (1922. Niš – 1978. Belgrade) was a remarkable figure within the cultural and social life of our city, an artist whose entire practice was based on a creative determination which could be explained by paraphrasing Descartes - I paint, therefore I am. Because of his deeply poetic sensibility, he was often described by critics as a poet among painters and a painter among poets, beloved by the entire bohemian society. His life is a confirmation of this; one of his first exhibitions was opened by Jovan Bijelić, and Milan Konjović personally intervened in order for him to have an exhibition in Sombor in 1971.


Apart from many critics such as Katarina Ambrozić, Pavle Vasić, Miodrag Kolarić, Marija Pušić, Lazar Trifunović, and Đorđe Kadijević, fellow artists also wrote about his works: Branko Miljković, Slobodan Marković, Mića Popović. Stevana Raičković’s poem „Verses for a Catalogue“ was published in a Graphic Collective leaflet devoted to Bogojević’s exhibition on March 31st, 1971.

He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, and made his first appearance in the local art scene in the Group “Eleven” exhibition in 1951. His artistic career reflects some of his autobiographical movements and significant locations - depictions of the fortress in his hometown Nis, portraits of children, motifs from Kosovo, the rooftops of Belgrade and Paris, riverbanks of Sava and Sena, a funeral in Raška… His painting was included in the selection of “70 Works Of Contemporary Yugoslavian Painting” and he was the first artist to receive the Golden Plaque award for painting from ULUS in 1960. As Miodrag B. Protić put it, he was never a part of any -ism, and as a painter of sensibility not theory he sought solutions related to a personal style of figuration and moderate abstraction, basing his forms on tonal values and material, sometimes leaning towards surrealism or geometrical approaches. The mild melancholy that permeates his works is probably a reflection of filtering the gloomy side of life experiences and projection of the world, as opposed to the jovial energy of Bogojević who adored the circus, as Miodrag Bulatović describes it in his text - as a place of unfettered entertainment and fantasy, an opposition to the formalism of official social context. "... I am simply considering the idea of founding a circus... A real circus, but small. So many writers and painters would apply to be performers. It is impossible to live peacefully, quietly. We have to add some stunts into our life. Galleries, clubs, songs, newspapers - you often just wish to send it all to - the circus ... ", Bogojević said (NIN, 1955).

He had solo shows in the Graphic Collective in 1957, 1961, 1962 and at the mentioned exhibition in 1971, unusual at the time for the concept and painting technique of the presented works - the exhibition lasted 12 hours (12-24h) on March 31, 1971 and exhibited paintings on the back of glass surfaces. With this exhibition called "Your windows", Bogojević marked the twentieth anniversary of his painting work, and the exhibited landscapes, after recognizable monochrome paintings, represented a shift in the direction of Rousseau's return to nature marked by bright colors. Almost in the verse, on the occasion of the one-day exhibition the artist himself said, "This exhibition is a small return of the debt of my student wanderings along the banks of our rivers and tributaries ... It is a memory of muddy shores, embraces of heaven and earth, overflowing stray clouds." On meticulously cultivated fields, forgotten paths and weathered ponds. On other people's mornings, my dawns, other people's evenings, my mornings. Meetings and farewells, afternoons and evenings. These thirty mischiefs or pearls, as I intimately call them, allowed me to go to a long-cancelled meeting in Vojvodina... "(NIN, April 24, 1971) The social position of the painter, the attractiveness and the outreach that the exhibition had is evident from the fact that 13 paintings were sold during those few hours of the exhibition. That same year was marked by a rich painting production and active gallery presentations (exhibitions in Belgrade, Stip, Rijeka, Venice), "I am bombarding everything with new paintings, moving the same exhibition back and forth is out of the question" Bogojević emphasized (Express Belgrade, April 22, 1971) .

In a study of Slavoljub Bogojević's drawing oeuvre, Gordana Stanišić spoke of him as one of the few artists of the post-war generation who did not succumb to social provocations, but belonged to a group of artists who researched purely artistic problems, aestheticism of art, and art itself, not by developing its ideological conception. "He was an artist of dreams and his own unrest, symbols and passions, an enthusiastic poet of space and a dreamer in whom, in spite of everything - the Dionysian spirit won," concluded Stanišić.

Translation from Serbian: Dunja Karanović






Graphic Collective Gallery, Dragoslava Jovanovića 11, Belgrade, Weekdays 12 - 20h, Saturdays 12 - 17h, Sundays closed
tel: +381.11.3285.923; tel/fax: +381.11.2627.785