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THROUGH THE BINOCULARS OF THE GRAPHIC COLLECTIVE - MAPPING HISTORY



A Return to Miniatures I, II, III - The Collection of Zoran L. Božović


Small formats in art represent a concession to dimensions but not to the strength and expression of creative ideas; this much has been confirmed in the exhibitions and artistic practices in both our local and the international art scene. The affirmation of miniatures can be found in the traditional programs of the Graphic Collective, from the annual exhibition of small format printmaking to the editions of various accomplished printmakers. The exhibitions Return to Miniatures I, II and III stand out, brought to us thanks to the passionate work of the collector Zoran L. Božović.


           


Božović was a polymath and a Belgrade student, who graduated and obtained his MA degree at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, and received his PhD from the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies of the University of Belgrade. He was an associate professor in the field of biomedical engineering and informatics in the same institution. Apart from engineering, he was passionate about the world of fine arts, which he quickly learned about along the way, gaining understanding and trust due to his systematic mind, agility and communication skills. Božović started slowly expanding his somewhat passive role as a collector with more concrete actions; by publishing bibliophilic printmaking portfolios, he inspired current painters and visual artists to renew their relationship with printmaking through various creative sensibilities. In order to be able to formally publish portfolios, some of which were very exclusive, he acquired practical knowledge about the secrets of this craft from professor Boško Karanović.


     


Catalogue of the exhibition Return to Miniatures I, Graphic Collective, 1985.



Božović achieved an even more distinguished creative position through conversations about fine arts - his interviews with famous artists, critics and curators from the local and international art scene, which he published in several books in the edition Conversations about Art. In these publications, he captured the natural atmosphere of the interview through photographs of the artists in their studios - the Bresson-esque portraits catching decisive moments in time represent an authentic document of these encounters. For his work in the field of visual arts in the 80s and 90s, he is remembered as a striking figure with a strong attitude colored by devotion and love.


           


Catalogue of the exhibition Return to Miniatures II, Graphic Collective, 1995.



A Return to Miniatures I, II, III were a series of exhibitions organized over three decades (in 1985, 1995, and 2001 - posthumously), with a unique concept created as a result of Božović's unusual passion for collecting drawings created on cigarette boxes. “The idea is bizarre, the format is large enough for the artists to express themselves, small enough not to be pretentious, but also it is proof that when there is motivation, a work of art can be made on an accessible, even waste material” - the authors said in the catalog of the first of the three exhibitions. This project also testifies to Božović's personal culture and lucid openness to various fields of artistic activity, as well as to his ease of movement and communication within the artistic circles to which he belonged. Two boxes with the drawings of Leonid Šejka were the initial trigger in the beginning, later developing into a diligent collecting mission. “The collection grew slowly and painstakingly until the works of about twenty authors were collected. Afterwards, everything was easier and faster.” (Z.Božović) In addition to the different generations and poetic orientations of Yugoslav artists such as Peđa Milosavljević, Nedeljko Gvozdenović, Cuca Sokić, Nikola Graovac, Mića Popović, Đorđe Ivačković, Stojan Ćelić, Dušan Otašević, Radomir Reljić, Predrag Nešković, Vladimir Veličković, Raša Todosijević, Milan Blanuša, Tanja Ostojić, Milica Tomić, etc, this capital collection with hundreds of drawings/objects also mapped out artists from the international art scene such as Albín Brunovský, Francis Bacon, Antoni Tapies, Klaes Oldenburg, Sol Levit, Cesar, Joseph Kosuth, Ero, Lawrence Weiner and others.


           


Catalogue of the exhibition Return to Miniatures III, Graphic Collective, 2001.



In the decades of increasing commercialization of art, this exhibition/project was much more than a cabinet of curiosities, it pointed out the still dominant and paradigmatic position of noble humanistic ideals and character traits of artists, who, according to the author, are always enthusiasts who love their work and respect the enthusiasm of others. Božović's international collection of works on cigarette boxes, with the participation of about 300 domestic and foreign authors, in addition to exhibitions in the Graphic Collective, was also presented in Belgium (Verviers, 1997 and Brussels, 2000).

Božović's communicative features, his persistence, respect and readiness for cooperation are especially evident today, when a sharp line divides us and him, the ones Present from the ones Absent. At the heart of it all are established criteria, good taste, talent and emotional intelligence. The initial passion for collecting, the editorial/publishing endeavours and the other creative efforts of Zoran L. Božović are all part of a paradigm of engagement and enthusiasm, which is necessary for contemporary Serbian culture of the new millennium.

Translation from Serbian: Dunja Karanović


Zoran L. Božović (Belgrade, 1949-2000), graduated and obtained his master's degree at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade. He received his doctorate from the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies at the University of Belgrade, where he was a scientific advisor and associate professor in the field of biomedical engineering and informatics. In the early eighties, he also dedicated himself to art collecting. Božović attends printmaking studies held by prof. Boško Karanović at the Faculty of Fine Arts, and in 1982 he started publishing. He published thirty maps of prints by Serbian, Yugoslavian and foreign artists, of which the first twenty-five, realized until 1995, are stored in the Collection of the Cabinet of Prints of the National Museum in Belgrade. He was the editor of the monograph edition at the Cicero publishing house. Within the edition titled Conversations on Art, he published nine books of interviews with over ninety relevant artists, critics and gallerists from the national and world art scene. He was critically focused the contemporary art scene. He was engaged in photography and exhibited in several group exhibitions: Biennial of Miniatures, Gornji Milanovac, International Salon of Art Photography and October Salon, Belgrade. He is a laureate of several awards for his artistic work. He independently exhibited photographs with portraits of artists he interviewed (Dom omladine Gallery, Belgrade 1997).



 

 

 
 
 
 
   
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