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Vladimir Milanović


WHERE IS PRINTMAKING TODAY?

I am writing this text because I have been invited to participate in the symposium organized by the Graphic Collective and because I wish to continue the mission that this institution has been cultivating since its founding - a critical reflection on reality through the medium of printmaking. Since 1949, the motivation of artists gathered around the newly established gallery has been directed towards a more adequate positioning of printmaking on the domestic, but also on the international, artistic and cultural scene. However, although 70 years have gone by, that aim has not yet been achieved. The tradition of the Belgrade Graphic Circle and the achievements of many individuals gathered around a common idea are still, it seems, marginalized, and new challenges appear ... Gallery on the Move seeks to activate its friends, founders, artists , exhibitors, curators, art lovers.

The Graphic Collective organized a symposium titled Printmaking at the Edge (after the title of Richard Noyce's book) in 2009 that suggested transitional states in the art of printmaking at the end of the second and beginning of the third millennium. While fundamental theoretical questions were raised on that occasion, a decade later, the exhibition What is Printmaking Today? (Belgrade Cultural Center Gallery, 2019) showcased contemporary art practices in the medium of printmaking and offered answers to the question. Although, as one of the represented artists, I offered a perspective on the media and production extension of printmaking, I think that at this moment it is more relevant and more urgent to ask Where is printmaking today?, within the context of the local social circumstances, than initiate an academic discussion on the definition of media and the question What is printmaking?

Both mentioned events organized by the Graphic Collective indicated that this institution, unfortunately, is the only one outside the academic education system that endeavors to keep printmaking present in the public discourse. Of course, the commitment to printmaking is also cultivated by the Center for Graphics and Visual Research of the Academy, but this institution operates within the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. In the past, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade played a significant role in positioning the art of multi-originals, forming a respectable collection of original prints, organizing exhibitions of contemporary prints and publishing publications in this field. The National Museum in Belgrade also had a significant place in the popularization of printmaking with the Open Printmaking Studio program, where artists demonstrated the process of making their prints in the presence of an audience.

The existence of events such as the International Print Biennial organized by the Graphic Section of the Association of Fine Arts of Serbia, the International Dry Point Print Biennial in Užice, the Print Biennial in Čačak, the International Salon of Prints in Kraljevo, and several other similar events contribute to the survival of the printmaking scene. Young artists have a chance to exhibit at the Biennial of Student Prints organized by the Student’s Campus Cultural Center. These manifestations survive thanks to individuals, whose enthusiasm, with the modest support of the Ministry of Culture or local Secretariats for Culture, maintains the existence of the printmaking art scene.

Despite the unfavorable conditions, lack of support and necessary infrastructure (from specialized printmaking material stores, professional workshops for print production, to galleries, critics and museums), the vitality of the Serbian printmaking scene is still maintained by the energy of individuals. Artists who have dedicated their life and professional vocation to the art of multi-originals actually have no alternative. The social context cannot restrain the intractable creative urge, nor thwart the fusion of one's own artistic expression with the medium. Nothing can replace the feeling of obsession with the printmaking process itself. Nothing can stop the printmaking artist from practicing a specific logic, some would say special artistic intelligence, in his/her artistic work.

Redefining and expanding the boundaries of the printmaking medium gave special impetus to creativity in the 21st century. Without questioning the status and position of traditional disciplines (high, intaglio, flat and screen printing), the printmaking medium whose development throughout history has been directly related to technical and technological innovations, still follows that course. Modern technological procedures used in the production of matrices (photopolymer in gravure printing, photolithography in flat or the use of CNC machines in letterpress printing), various forms of digital and 3D printing, the use of various materials (bases and colors) , the possibility of printing specially large formats and unlimited editions, all present creative challenges for artists, but also open questions for media theorists. The production potential, evident in contemporary practices, has enabled artists to overcome the limitations of traditional media and establish a communicative relationship with the contemporary environment. 21st century prints have the ability to overcome the previous necessity of intimate concepts, conditioned by the material limitations of manual procedures and limits of the conventional perception of the print. Today, prints have the possibility not only to be present in a public space but also to transform it, to realize their expressive potential in moving media (animation, video), to declare their own performativity as works of art, to become an integral part of intermedia or multimedia interactive projects, to become all-present.

Grounds for optimism, in the context of our scene, are spurred by the information that the Graphic Collective is continuing its work in a new, much larger gallery, at a prestigious location at 11 Dragoslava Jovanovića Street. The more spacious exhibition space will enable a more diverse program and will host more ambitious projects that will present the future of printmaking and its contact and interaction with other media. Printmakers and print lovers have no choice but to accept the work that our predecessors started seventy years ago and to mark a new stage in the work of the Graphic Collective with their contribution. The new space should become a meeting place of tradition and modernity, experience and youthful enthusiasm, be open to new practices and fresh ideas. Of key importance for the future of the Graphic Collective is the renewal of the spirit of the collective, which, in addition to existing in the name of this institution, must also come to life in reality. The key to the survival of the Serbian printmaking scene, in the context of current social circumstances and current cultural policies, is the establishment of new collectivism and solidarity among artists, curators, the public and other participants in the world of art.

Vladimir Milanović, PhD in Art
Assistant Professor at the Graphic Department,
Faculty of Fine Arts, Belgrade

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović




Vladimir Milanović (1979, Belgrade, Serbia), BA (2003), MA (2008) PhD (2014), Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Arts Belgrade, Serbia MA (2009) degree in Digital Art, Interdisciplinary Post Graduate Studies University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia. Assistant (2011) and Assistant Professor (2014) at the Printmaking Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, Belgrade, Serbia. He had more than 15 solo shows and took part in more than a hundred exhibitions in Serbia and abroad. He received the Great Seal Award (2014) of the the Graphic Collective Gallery and several awards at international exhibitions of contemporary printmaking art.

vladam23@yahoo.com
www.vladimirmilanovic.com



     

V. Milanović, 21TH Century Condottiere, 2008, digital print, 78x52 cm
V. Milanović, Battle of Tires, 2008, digital print, 52x78 cm

     

V. Milanović, Expulsion from Eden, 2008, digital print, 78x52cm
V. Milanović, The Garbage Swing, 2010, digital print, 52x78 cm

     

V. Milanović, The Windmill, 2010, digital print, 78x52cm
V. Milanović, Atomic Landscape, 2008, digital print, 78x52cm

     

V. Milanović, School, 2013, digital print, 60x80 cm
V. Milanović, Vase, 2019, digital print/graphic installation, Gallery of Cultural Center of Belgrade



 

 

 
 
 
 
   
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