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THROUGH THE BINOCULARS OF THE GRAPHIC COLLECTIVE - MAPPING HISTORY


Marko Krsmanović


Over a span of forty years, the artistic career of Marko Krsmanović – graphic artist, painter, illustrator and professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts – was marked by numerous exhibitions, awards, recognitions and study visits to art centers and printmaking workshops in Europe and the U.S., where he gave lectures about Serbian and Yugoslav printmaking traditions and the work of the Belgrade Academy. This delicate and talented artist and intellectual belonged to the artistic community known as the Belgrade Printmaking Circle – both spiritually and artistically; he selflessly engaged in improving and strengthening the ideological and technical context of the printmaking medium, translating academic resources, writing and speaking about printmaking technology and new procedures, as well as organizational problems, professional ethics and the code of the original print.


     

M. Krsmanović in the studio; M. Krsmanović, Four Figures, 1964, intaglio printing, 50x60 cm, Great Seal Award 1964.


In line with the nature and logic of his primary creative medium, professional choice, collegial and personal liaisons, Krsmanović is one of the key members of the Graphic Collective and its history, a striking individual agile in initiating significant activities. At his debut exhibition in the Collective in 1957, Krsmanović exhibited drawings and gouaches, and in 1959, color lithographs. He was the second laureate of the Great Seal Award in 1964, for the intaglio print entitled Four Figures. As the decision was explained by the jury composed of Boško Karanović, Milivoj Nikolajević and Bogdan Kršić, “Krsmanović has remarkably harmonized a high graphic demand with his world of original figurativity. This world with its frontally placed figures is also an unusually rich projection of psychological space. Krsmanović miraculously removes and puts on the masks of his figures with a gentle smile of deeply humane creation, which presents him as an artist of clear and self-aware desires. The award-winning work unequivocally shows a great graphic experience that adds new elements close to the values of plasticity to the printed sheet through a new way of treating metal plates.” In the middle of the 1980's, a discussion about printmaking and the original was initiated in the daily newspaper Politika, motivated by the appearance of a large number of reproductions of famous painters' works. This conversation was initiated by Kršić's letter to Politika about the importance of fine art printmaking, based on the example of Krsmanović's work.
Six decades after that first solo exhibition, the Graphic Collective hosted another exhibition of Marko Krsmanović in 2016, entitled "Selection from the Printmaking Opus" according to the curatorial concept of Ljiljana Ćinkul. This selection mapped the most important dates and creative phases of Krsmanović's oeuvre, covering the period 1954-1990, and in the catalog, the curator's foreword was followed by the memories of contemporaries, students and friends - prof. Branimir Karanović, Lidija Antanasijević, prof. Branko Pavić.


     

     


Marko Krsmanović graduated from the painting department, but favored printmaking over painting in his creative practice, searching for a new visual, intellectual and creative space. Undoubtedly, he affirmed himself first and foremost as a printmaker on the art scene. Krsmanović recognized the strongest creative code in printmaking because he understood the medium as a joy of creating in an ongoing process. Thus, his printmaking oeuvre was devoted to unconventional research into the possibilities of intaglio color printing techniques. In intaglio, he found an alluring medium, the layered plate was for him a matrix that can carry information. He belonged to a generation that was fascinated by the expression of painterly matter in the 1960's and 1970's, nurtured as a value in the poetics of the Informel movement; instead of a strictly controlled procedure, he cultivated a liberated relationship with the graphic matrix in the name of exploring subtle haptic values and the expression of materials.
Krsmanović himself accurately explained his creative passion for intaglio printmaking research, in a 1970 survey: “I think that one of the main reasons I work with metal plate intaglio lies, above all, in the attractiveness of the means of work and the unusual qualities of structure of the printed surfaces and lines. Furthermore, in the successive process of execution, in the efficient fixation of many tactile, often accidental values, in the ability to control or direct the erosive or destructive process, and in the ability to place new values over old ones. I would say that there is an underlying mystical phenomenon in the way natural processes are symbolically repeated (at least that’s how I see it) and which prevails over the impression of being a foreigner in the work – about the power of organization, machine and technology…” M. Krsmanović, Survey on Printmakers, Umetnost issue 23 (Belgrade 1970) 37.


           

Marko Krsmanović, Small monograph of the winner of the Great Seal Award, Library of Graphic Artists of the Belgrade Circle, Graphic Collective, 1968; Exhibition Marko Krsmanović, Selection from the graphic opus, Graphic Collective 2016 (photo from the opening of the exhibition and catalog)
Krsmanović's statement "My subconscious always produces memories of the figure" explains the structuralist tendencies in his work – the simultaneous presentation of abstract and figural forms, in whose mutual struggle the figure wins. Another type quality was provided to the artist by color lithography, which marks the beginning and end of this printmaking opus.
Among numerous solo exhibitions domestically and abroad, special attention needs to be paid to the retrospective exhibition of prints held in 1987 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. In her analysis, Ljiljana Slijepčević marked the most important features of Krsmanovic's work. In the year 1990, he exhibited in the gallery of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts as a laureate of the "Ivan Tabaković" Fund award. The focal point of this exhibition were the most recent prints and paintings, which was another valuable insight into the creative workshop of this artist.

Translation: Dunja Karanović


Marko Krsmanović (1930 - 1991. Belgrade)
He graduated in 1953 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, class of prof. Nedeljko Gvozdenović, and from 1953-1955. attended a special course, class of prof. Marko Čelebonović and Milo Milunović. At the graphic department of the Academy, with prof. Boško Karanović, he gets acquainted with the techniques of woodcut, copper engraving and lithography. Since 1957, he has exhibited independently (Belgrade, Warsaw, Brussels, Philadelphia, New York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Rochester ...) and at collective exhibitions in the country and abroad (Belgrade, Mexico, Krakow, Rijeka, Ljubljana, Ottawa, London, Berlin, Paris, Caracas, New Delhi, Sydney, Geneva, Moscow, Venice, Miskolc ...). Retrospective exhibition in 1987 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. Study trips: London, Paris, Glasgow, Oslo, USA, Edinburgh. Awards / selection: Award for graphics at the October Salon, Belgrade, 1964; October Award of the City of Belgrade, 1969; ULUS Golden Needle, 1975; Award from the Ivan Tabaković Fund of SANU for significant contribution to contemporary art, Belgrade, 1988; Special award for lifetime contribution to the art of graphics at the First Biennial of Graphics, Belgrade, 1989. He was a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. He was engaged in graphics, illustration and painting.




 

 

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