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Lidija Antanasijević

These days, we have the opportunity to communicate on an international level in a virtual way. Now, the exchange of opinions, facts, knowledge, experiences or information is available to all. We do not even have to meet physically to find out what we think about the position of printmaking in the 21st century.
The year 2020 is marked by a global pandemic and an unprecedented way of life that inevitably brings new perceptions of the reality around us. The suspension of physical contact, movement and exchange has particularly affected artists and art institutions around the planet. While many exhibitions were postponed or canceled and economically unsustainable work challenged the survival of important institutions, they adapted to the situation in an incredible way and in a short time continued to work virtually. If this year is marked as the year of limitation, then the word adaptability tops it off. Museum collections, international exhibitions or individual studio achievements have become available worldwide via the Internet and social networks. I think that the exchange of information and communication itself eased the situation we are all in. Artists, curators and people working in the field of culture have demonstrated their leading role in creating and sustaining culture and art in society, locally or globally, at this moment or throughout history. Their work and effort are an exceptional testimony of the time and society. 2020 is the year that confirmed that.
In the today’s age of computers and digitalization, we cannot deny the important and extensive role of technology in the exchange of ideas and information. The younger generations grow and educate themselves technologically, they use the language of computers with ease and thus have an important tool in their hands. The use of the digital image is ubiquitous from photography via mass produced design to artistic prints. Artists with an authentic creative handwriting bring new knowledge into the potential of a creative use of computers in printmaking.


Vladimir Milanović, School, digital print, 2013, 80x60cm
Vladimir Milanović, Genre, digital print, 2013, 20x20cm

Vladimir Milanović skillfully implements historical pictoriality with contemporary social events and happenings in his artworks. He raises questions of reading the image, choosing to make parallel references, or to accept contemporary expressions of an artistic idea through an algorithmic matrix. His artistic research covers social events woven into the technical innovations of the time he lives in. An artist who has the ability and courage to enter new fields can bring discoveries and knowledge, be a bearer of changes in art and further development of individual or global artistic practice.
Artists, as a vital part of society and culture, are bearers of messages, catalysts for change, merging information and activities through time and space on a global scale. I use the term ‘artists’ without categorizing the discipline they are engaged in, be it painting, performance, sculpture or printmaking. For me, printmaking is a field of research and personal expression without the limitations of the adopted rules that the aim of printmaking is multiplication, that it is a process of imprinting or that the matrix serves as a basis for the production of a work of art. Other artistic disciplines today transcend the boundaries of standardized norms and formats of expression, so within a painting on canvas we can see, in addition to brush strokes made by using oil paint, an embedded print of a woodcut or of a photo procedure, or paintings arranged in such a way they become a three-dimensional object or sculpture. It is natural that the prints themselves go beyond the historically followed context of printing on paper. The traditional division among the media has been transformed into a multimedia creative activity.


Sumi Perera

Sumi Perera, for example, disassembles and re-assembles his prints made by intaglio printing into spatially conceived objects; thus we have a printmaking technique presented sculpturally or as a spatial installation.
The attribute of 'multiplication' attributed to the art discipline of printmaking is actually related to the commercial aspect, often seen as affordable art at a better price than, say, oil paintings, but nowadays the ethics of art fairs and international purchases by private collectors or museum collections force the market to ' multiply the original. So now we find ‘limited editions’ of sculptures, video works and photographs (here I mean works of art). Editions no longer have to be exclusively related to the print medium. Nor must the prints themselves have an edition.


Lidija Anatanasijević, Poem About Love, 1999/2000, spatial installation, etched rifle bullets, grass, sound

In the artwork Poem About Love the printmaking process of intaglio printing, more precisely etching, a key process in creating a ‘matrix’ is applied to the concept of an idea as a carrier of a message. In terms of conceptual expression, no other artistic technique would have a strong enough impact, as did the engraving of the features and name of the person who died that year during the NATO bombing of Serbia. In this work, the matrix carries the content, without being printed on other material.

Lidija Antanasijević, Treatment, 2019, video 31min (1min extract)

Printing or making an imprint, closely related to the printmaking discipline can be detached as a separate procedural work of art. The element of artistic procedures, the process of creating prints is mostly unknown to the public and no one but the artist sees or witnesses (in case the artist himself/herself prepares and prints his/her plates and not a graphic workshop) the beauty of creation, a specific moment in time and space when a work of art is produced. Thus, the video Treatment is an authentic performance recorded by the picture and duration in time. It is an artistic act, an intimate story about the process of making prints seen from the artist's point of view.
Of course, all of this presents my personal view of prints and the printmaking discipline at the present time. Printmaking is a field of artistic activity that is open to possibilities, from traditional approaches of printing on paper to multidisciplinary expressions of ideas. An open-minded artist is a potential initiator of ideas and catalyst for new creative paths. Printmaking has evolved over the centuries and survived thanks to its adaptability and ability to integrate the technical or technological developments of society and keep pace with the times.
Prints are present everywhere, whether its an applied version or a unique work of art, on paper or some other material, two-dimensional or three-dimensional - we are used to accepting it visually. As we read it - we must democratically leave it to the individual to have a personal choice whether to puritanically prefer traditional printmaking techniques or to accept new ways of perceiving printmaking art. Beauty is in choice and broad-mindedness.

Lidija Antanasijević
London, 31 August 2020.

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović

Lidija Antanasijević (1961, Belgrade, Serbia) was educated in Belgrade, Serbia. She received both her BA (1988) and MA (1991) from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. In 1991 she moved to UK. As a Serbian born – London based artist she explores theme of displacement, identity, cultural and political duality and differences. While predominantly working in printmaking medium her practice also stretches out into sculptural forms and installations. She is laureate of Great Seal, a national recognition for the contribution to printmaking in Serbia. Her work is included in public collections across the world among Museum of Modern Art in Belgrade, V&A Museum, London, China Print Museum, Guanlan, Shenzhen, and many others. She continuously exhibits her work both nationally and internationally. Member of ULUS (Association of Fine Artists of Serbia) since 1989.



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