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THROUGH THE BINOCULARS OF THE GRAPHIC COLLECTIVE - MAPPING HISTORY


Stojan Ćelić


Stojana Ćelić's artwork has been critically and museologically researched, and although painting occupied the central position in his extremely rich oeuvre, his contribution to the medium of drawing and printmaking is indispensable and significant. For decades he wrote crucial studies and texts on fine arts and artists which are an integral part of his creative corpus. His recognizable poetic discourse was grounded in that magical triangle of drawing-painting-printmaking , one medium overlapping with another as he alternately solved certain artistic issues.


       

Stojan Ćelić, portrait;
Catalog of the exhibition of etchings by Stojan Ćelić on the occasion of the reopening of the Graphic Collective Gallery, April 1964.


The genesis of his printmaking can be traced over a period of four decades in varying time phases, always preserving the continuity of vital creativity. Everything evolved according to the logic of inner necessity; during the process of carefully drawing the poetic coordinates of his creative system, he went through a short phase where he embraced the figurative concept and a long period of its reduction in the style of Beckett's logic of dealing with the essence. Namely, Ćelić's reduced method evolved from the associative-abstract to the abstract-geometric principle, creating a printmaking oeuvre indispensable in the overall review of our art of the second half of the 20th century.
In all phases of Ćelić's work drawing occupied a significant position. He would later use drawings, traces of fluid memories and impressions of certain toponyms as templates for prints or paintings. The natural world was only a starting point to venture into the field of freer artistic vistas in an easier and safer way while confirming his quest for artistic research through various themes and techniques.


           

Catalogs of Stojan Ćelić's exhibitions in the Graphic Collective (1967, 1975, 1988.)


At the beginning of his career, Ćelić often exhibited prints and was recognized and appreciated as a printmaker. His generational association and friendship with Mladen Srbinović and Boško Karanović and their professional cooperation with joint exhibitions in the Graphic Collective Gallery in 1953 and 1955 is more than just a biographical note. In the 1960s, Ćelić was among the prominent representatives of contemporary Serbian and Yugoslav printmaking. His work was selected for the exhibition of Contemporary Yugoslav Prints at the Venice Biennale in 1954. Many critics wrote about this period, and Ćelic's characteristic explanation in a 1955 interview was: "What I do in printmaking is related to my ideas on painting, thinking about the human condition and the artistic understanding of the tragic. It’s all more about experiencing the atmosphere than the subject."
The seventh decade of 20th century in Ćelić's oeuvre was significant in many ways and prolific in terms of works, exhibitions and awards. He enhanced the conceptual concept of his work by focusing on reducing the subject by mastering the so-called zone of aesthetic rationalism.


       

Catalog and video of the opening of the exhibition of graphics and drawings from the work of Stojan Celic, Graphic Collective, April-May 2007;


The etchings he made in 1961 suggested great changes: the composition was defined by intense and expressive drawing strokes and hatching of impulsive graphism. The memory of the landscape became a more orderly rhythm of dark and light surfaces and visualization of the sounds of nature. Ćelic's modernism of the highest aesthetic values, as the critics pointed out, was characterized as planimetry and constructive order. The first examples of Ćelic’s new and radical concept were the colored linocuts from 1962. These prints anticipated the later application of the radically reductive modernist method in Ćelic's work, and confirmed the thesis that certain novelties in this work were first promoted in prints. He exhibited his etchings at the opening of the renovated Graphic Collective in April 1964.
He explicitly expressed the aspect of space, a phenomenon that would become his primary artistic issue, and Ćelic's palette was in the function of spatial relations and their planes.


     

S. Ćelić, Dubica bosanska, 1945, relief print, 17.5x18.5 cm;
S. Ćelić, Boy, 1949, woodcut, 27x21 cm;
S. Ćelić, Stevan Raičković, Consolation, 1955, aquatint / etching, 59x42 cm;
S. Ćelić, Otpor, 1955, etching / aquatint, 57x45 cm


In the print Space (1967), which belongs to the most significant works of the second half of the 20th century, harmony and order was achieved by enhanced tectonics of flat surfaces, rhythmic alternations of planimetric restraint, lowering plate levels and a line formed by traces of color left at the edges of different matrix levels.
The achieved graphic dematerialization of the surface creates the impression of perfect harmony and achieves the absolute conceptual and visual result. Ćelić exhibited prints and drawings from that cycle in the Graphic Collective Gallery in November 1967. Among the awards for printmaking, the Great Seal of the Graphic Collective awarded in 1970 stands out. The jury - Miodrag B. Protić, Branko Protić and Bora Iljovski - appreciated in the awarded print the strict, classic graphic means, the purity of modern expression, the characteristic combination of a rational scheme and an irrational deviation, a very personal sensibility.


           

S. Ćelić, Theseus' curse, 1965, etching, 56x77 cm;
S. Ćelić, Calm sea, 1966, aquatint / etching, 76x64 cm;
S. Ćelić, Shifted boundaries of space, 1970, etching / aquatint, 78x53 cm, The Great Seal Award of the Graphic Collective, 1970.


In his prolific exhibition practice, Stojan Ćelić, as a prominent member of the Graphic Collective, exhibited drawings (1975), pastels and drawings (1988) in his Gallery. Fifteen years after the artist's death (2007), an exhibition was organized on the occasion of publishing a monograph dedicated to his drawing and prints.
Prints are an important connective tissue in his oeuvre and an indispensible creative fact based on originality and individuality. Regardless of whether the woodcuts are from the early phase, illustrations for poetry books or intaglio prints with an emphasis on the technique of flat etching, in his superior mastery everything is conceptually logical, clear and in a natural sequence.

Translation: Vanda Perović


Stojan Ćelić (1925 Bosanski Novi – 1992 Belgrade)
He graduated in 1953 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade and completed a special course in the class of prof. Nedeljko Gvozdenović. Since 1953, he has exhibited independently (Belgrade, Venice, Ljubljana, Paris ...) and at collective exhibitions in the country and abroad (Belgrade, Sao Paulo, Warsaw, Liege, Sofia, Tokyo, Rome, Geneva ...). Retrospective exhibition in 1983 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. Awards / selection: October Award of the City of Belgrade for graphics, 1957; Award at the III Zagreb Exhibition of Yugoslav Graphics, Zagreb, 1964; Second prize at the VI International Exhibition of Graphics, Ljubljana, 1965; Politician Award from the Vladislav Ribnikar Fund, 1969; October Award for Painting, Belgrade, 1972; Grand Prize for Drawing at the V International Exhibition of Original Drawing, Rijeka, Prize at the IX Memorial of Nadežda Petrović, Čačak, 1976; Award for the most significant achievement in the field of culture 1983, Belgrade, 1984; AVNOJ Award, Belgrade, 1989. Member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU). He was a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. He was engaged in drawing, painting, graphics and mosaics.




 

 

 
 
 
 
   
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