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Zoran Banović

My Personal Poetics in the Context of the Media

Printmaking as a reproductive medium, probably more than any other visual arts medium, manifests its capacity to integrate with technological and stylistic changes that each new age brings. Printmaking has played a key role in the process of democratizing art in the modern age, a role more important than, say, painting, which is more dominantly present in modern-day pedagogical systems, forms of production and presentation of fine art. From the culturological perspective, the outreach of the print multi-original is extremely important in creating a collective visual memory, ie contemporary visual culture. For more than two decades, the position of printmaking in the era of new technological expansion has been discussed. Since the expressive-linguistic norm of printmaking is based on the concept of image duplication, as such it compares with other forms of image production and transfer in the growing system of new digital media and, from that point of view, the future will probably be marked by the expansion of printmaking media. Printmaking has adapted its modes of expression to all technical and technological changes. And by expanding its options in the process of technological innovation, new reproductive fields emerged, such as serigraphy, offset, photocopying and digital printing.

One of the basic methodological units in pedagogical practice includes structure, ie the building elements of each work of art. Thus, we realize that language is a general system of elements and visual principles, that is syntactic rules, and speech is the practical use of language, personalized and special for each individual, while language is the same for everyone. Fine art speech is realized through the medium, ie artistic and technical means (charcoal, pencil, paint ...), but also through the execution skill of the artist. The media also have their own linguistic specifics; the same artist will draw different lines when using a pencil, pen or brush ... I stop her, as I primarily want to reflect on my own artistic practice from the aspect of the media.

During my first professional exhibitions, art critics noticed that the presented works corresponded to those experiences of modern art based on autonomy and the inner rhythm of form originating in nature, but whose final meaning and functional meaning depended exclusively on the nature of the media. This observation probably reaffirmed my need to be more aware of the role of the media in the fabric of artistic expression. Truth be told, I have always considered it first necessary to trace the source of essential artistic principles, and only then to look for assumptions on which the specificity and characteristic expressiveness of a certain artistic discipline is based and within whose framework the possibility for a personal creative expression could unfold.


Z. Banović, Echoes, 2019, linocut, 15 x 14,5 cm
Z. Banović, Echoes, 2019, linocut, 15 x 14 cm

Since this text should primarily be an introspection of my work in the context of the media, it is worth mentioning, that I studied fine art and printmaking skills under renowned professors Dževad Hozo and Mileta Grozdanić, who completed their exceptional artistic and pedagogical careers with important theoretical works. So, it was during my studies that the groundwork for my artistic practice was laid and the skill of making a work of art became significant factor in the final result of the creative act.

Thus, during my almost three-decade-long artistic career I kept asking myself questions, among others, to what extent the character and structure of my own artistic expression are influenced by a certain medium. At the same time, I reflected on the relationship of matter and its concept equivalents, as well as, the relationship between the media and the artist’s intentionality.

Quite naturally, like any young artist, the art techniques in which I (or, with which I) preferred to build my "image of the world" crystallized very quickly. There were not many of them. They are: colored pencils, metal pen and black ink, aquatint, etching and soft wax. Linocut was not on this list, it was a technique that came into my technological spectrum by force of circumstances, and which soon became and remained my strongest media support. Namely, the seismic cultural terrain of Sarajevo, the milieu in which I grew up, in the early nineties of the last century inevitably had to be replaced by Belgrade. However, the time of general restrictions, which we are reluctant to remember today, deprived us of many things, including the opportunity to choose the technique and material with which to work. Linoleum was available and since then our "acquaintance" was soon replaced by an inextricable bond.

Metal pen and linocut drawings are done simultaneously as compatible techniques by which I achieve various plastic effects within the same thematic unit. At first intuitively, but later with greater awareness, I realized that in order to achieve the fullness of a creative act the indivisible unity of all linguistic structures within a certain medium was necessary. Thus, I diligently reexamined every particle on the surface of the print sheet, every dot, every line, every sign until a convincing image was formed. It was a manifestation of my wish not only to conquer linguistic norms by which I would embody my plastic contents, but also to discover new, completely personal, irreplaceable forms of speech by which I could express myself outside the already established stylistic-formal norms. That is why the print was a field of constant research in the technical, technological and formal-aesthetic sense. The number of visual-graphic elements was significant, but the effect was further strengthened by placing them into mutual relations in countless variations, which was to guarantee the beginning of the process by which the inner richness of the scene is realized. In addition, there were cases when I reused the same matrix in several color variants, not with the intention to explore the richness and challenge of the colored matter itself but to examine the size and character of changes in the sign system in relation to color, surface and light.


Z. Banović, Vegetative Tectonics, 1999, metal pen and linocut drawing, 50 x 68 cm
Z. Banović, Floral Expansion, 1999, metal pen and linocut drawing, 50 x 68 cm

The works of the first cycle, made in the linocut technique, that I dared to present to the public, were characterized by associative elongated forms such as unequally wide strips, or freely placed lines of different sizes and intensities of many colors and valences, notches, dots, relations between the light and dark surfaces in a shallow space I insisted on dynamism and at the same time on a certain rhythmic regularity, on the visual "closedness" of the print, that somewhat strange balance of order and disorder from which visions of a new world emerge. All this was a reflection on the longing to attain one's own artistic speech that would be able to carry the fullness of personal feelings and partly the world of one’s own ideas.

Persisting in the linocut technique, the matrix becomes a field of analytical-structural research with a wide register of expressive possibilities. The number of prints made was exactly proportional to the number of means used to achieve different forms of expressiveness.

After a series of drawings and prints with a vegetative topic, followed by works that appeared as fossilized landscapes of a vanished geological world, or as matter itself in its primordial state, I turned to a new spirit and order of the visual entity and increasingly radical formal solutions. The associatively or recognizability of the motif as a product of my fascination with natural phenomena whose vitality was suggested in earlier cycles, to some extent gave way to the process of creating a "new visual harmony" where the link of the form with the image was reduced. Throughout that period, I also showed interest in the dry point technique whose plasticity sometimes takes on a key role in dynamizing the performance by introducing more rhythmic energy. In addition to the fact that dry point intensifies the visual effect of the whole, this technique is characterized by the ability to awaken the need in the observer to tactilely feel the work and thus prolong the artistic experience.


Z. Banović, The Inexhaustible Vitality of Nature, 1999, linocut, 52 x 52 cm
Z. Banović, Košava, 1997, linocut, 51 x 52 cm
Z. Banović, Night, 1997, metal pen and linocut drawing, 50 x 50 cm

Some works carry distant echoes of formal structures of optical or kinetic art, but they do not substantially overlap with these stylistic patterns. It is a continuation of the process from previous cycles, but by different means that build structures which, of course, are not just mere plastic manifestations but whose role is to represent specific echoes of energies from nature in the broadest sense. Whether chromatic or achromatic solutions, linearization of the surface has become a dominant constitutive element in its functionality, both in drawing and in linocut as well as dry point techniques. This is how the cycles Natural Energy Resonance and Echoes evolved. Dynamic linear manifestations, most often supported by chromium, are perceived as "movement, flickering, rippling, vibration / grass, water, sand, light, sound ... /. The drawings and prints of these cycles point to the full affirmation of the natural in a more transparent and plastically communicative form." Using two structural units, the intact white and the treated surface, as two fundamental principles, I sought to derive one of the most direct plastic metaphors on the status and whims of nature in its essential meaning. In relation to the staticity of the base, the dynamism of the biomorphic sign is a layered expression of the inexhaustible biological vitality of nature. Organic forms become integrating factors, suggestive plastic signs of spiritual and real space, a place of strong permeation of the subjective and objective, being and reality.

Demonstrating a strong need to redefine the natural side of man, we seek a language that will touch different spheres of reality, using elements, forms and symbols of a primary, archetypal character. This creates structural entities that are harmonious, but at the same time dissonant, as they reveal the "vulnerable side" of linear forms that originate before our very eyes, develop, and then are transformed or completely disappear into a neutral field, potentially suggesting the parable of life.

My whole work shows an endeavor to gain an insight, at least partially, into the universal existential labyrinths from a trail of a line on paper or from the stroke of a knife in linoleum, in the hollowed canyons of a dry matrix, in the implied or life attained intuition, in reality or fantasy.

Zoran Banović
Banja Luka, September 2020

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović

Zoran Banović (1966. Prijedor), studied at the Academy of the Fine Arts, Sarajevo, 1991, class of professor Dževad Hozo. Graduated 1996 at the Faculty of the Fine Arts, Belgrade, class of professor Mile Grozdanic. Post-graduate studies, department of Graphic Art, 1999, same professor. He is a professor at the Academy of Art in Banja Luka. From 2002 exhibites at the group exhibitions nationally and internationally (Japan, Kanada, Kina, Norveška, Švedska, Češka, Belgija, Poljska, Grčka, Španija, Rumunija, Bugarska, Makedonija, Hrvatska...) He had 12 solo exhibitions. He received 14 national and international awards.



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