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THROUGH THE BINOCULARS OF THE GRAPHIC COLLECTIVE - MAPPING HISTORY


MEDIALA


In the life of the Graphic Collective, and the Gallery’s program, the fifties and sixties were marked by the youthful enthusiasm of the first generations of artists gathered around the new cultural center on Obilićev venac 27. We could say that it was a golden age in the maturing of an artistic brotherhood, which developed its creative beliefs, identity, and critical views within the Collective. It also influenced the establishment of professional standards through the active role of this then young House of Artists. This creative climate shaped the spirit of openness to new and experimental artistic phenomena, and many events that happened in the Graphic Collective were remembered as crucial turning points in our city’s cultural life. Both the audience and critics remembered them as unusual and interesting events, especially when it came to the so-called alternative art. It was at this moment that the idea of founding Mediala started forming, as a deviation from informel and various -isms. The Group's activities were afterwards identified with the Graphic Collective, since two Mediala exhibitions which attracted great public attention (in 1959 and 1960) were held there.


                 

Invitation for the second exhibition of Mediale, the Graphic Collective, 1959
Mihailo Čumić, Trunk, 1958.

                 

Vladimir Veličković, Without title, 1953.
Svetozar Samurović, Feast, 1959.


After their first exhibition, entitled Mediala Research, held in 1958 (June 31 - July 9) in the Youth Gallery (1), the second exhibition of Mediala was organized in the Gallery of the Graphic Collective in 1959, (September 11-21). Leonid Šejka, Miro Glavurtić, Olja Ivanjicki, Kosta Bradić, Milić Stanković, Milovan Vidak, Mihailo Čumić, Siniša Vuković, Svetozar Samurović, and Vladimir Veličković exhibited. The program texts were published in the magazine “Vidici”, and in Mediala’s "Art Paper" (List za umetnost), whose only issue was published in 1959. This appearance was a big surprise: the exhibition was opened by Peđa Milosavljević, a favorite painter of both civic and political circles, and was attended by celebrities from the world of culture, including Pavle Stefanović, Vasko Popa, Ljubiša Jocić, etc. The exhibition inspired the prominent critics Pavle Vasić and Katarina Ambrozić to write about Mediala from different positions, mostly with a positive note. There were also critics who did not approach this new artistic phenomenon with an affirmative tone, like the text entitled "The nonsensical avant-garde of Mediala" by critic Mićo Milošević, which was published in “Borba”.

In October 1960, the third exhibition of Mediala was organized, also in the Collective’s Gallery, but little information remains about it because Leonid Šejka, the main narrator of all events related to Mediala, was then serving his military service. Olja Ivanjicki, Leonid Šejka, Miro Glavurtić, Ljuba Popović, Siniša Vuković, Svetozar Samurović and Uroš Tošković exhibited. The most interesting review was that of Slobodan Mašić, who compared the official, annual art production exhibited at the October Salon with the third exhibition of this group. A lot of authentic data on Mediala has been preserved in URK (Office for Registration and Classification. Book-object No. 2), in which the events from 1953 to 1963 were recorded; the book used to be with Siniša Vuković, and now it remains with his family.


           

           

Part of URK photo-documentation - Registration and Classification Office. Book-object no.2


In those years and later, the members of Mediala held several solo exhibitions that stood out and attracted the attention of the public for their unusual conceptions, bold poetic and critical attitudes and media innovations - out of the ordinary for what was then a gallery context. Šejka held his first solo exhibition (1958) at the Graphic Collective, where he exhibited 17 objects, and his last, three-hour exhibition of paintings, drawings and "knick-knacks" (October 31, 1969), in which visitors were invited to actively participate. The exhibition of Milić Stanković (Milić od Mačve), dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of the tragic death of Sava Šumanović, was opened at midnight between February 21 and 22, 1962 by the writer Branko V. Radičević who read his text "The Vampire Letter". It was closed after three days due to accusations of spreading nationalism and anti-communism. Milovan Vidak organized several exhibitions in which only one painting was presented - "Before the beginning of the great trial" in April 1965; "Birth" in September 1970. In October 1964, Olja Ivanjicki performed the first happening in Belgrade in front of the Graphic Collective, during her exhibition “Packages and Suitcases”.


                                                                       

Invitation for the exhibition of Leonid Šejka, the Graphic Collective, October 1969
Newspaper article by Dragan Gajer (Politika ekspres) about Milovan Vidak's exhibition at the Graphic Collective, 1965
Interview with Olja Ivanjicki (Politika Express) on the occasion of her exhibition in the Graphic Collective, 1964.


Mediala sought to fuse traditional values and contemporary trends, with looking up to the Renaissance and Classicism as their artistic paradigms. The name of the group was created by Miro Glavurtić, as a portmanteau of the words Honey (Serb. med, as a kind of elixir and medicine, which can be artificially synthesized as a product of beings united in one idea and work) and dragon (Serb. ala, a symbol of darkness, conflict and destruction). The code of the group was written by Milovan Vidak, and the members organized their meetings on the Belgrade banks of the Sava and Danube, on Ada Medjica, Ada Ciganlija, in the attic of Peđa Ristić in Senjacka No. 16, and in several cafes in Belgrade. The Program, texts, and publications of Mediala, were all published in “Vidici” magazine in 1958 and 1959, and later in a number of newspapers and magazines, as well as in Leonid Šejka's book "Treatise on Painting" (Nolit, 1964). All program principles and the concept of the group are most fully presented in their "Art Paper", which was published in 1959 under the name Mediala by a group of painters, members of Mediala, and whose editor-in-chief was Miro Glavurtić. Within the program principles of the group, members of Mediala developed and affirmed personal creative poetics and visual codes by creating a set of heterogeneous artistic expressions.



(1) The Gallery later became the Belgrade Youth Center, and moved to a new space in Makedonska street in 1966. Leonid Šejka, Olja Ivanjicki, Miro Glavurtić and Vladan Radovanović exhibited that year.

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