This is a summery essay, only one of the many possible views of precious creative labour. It is just another confirmation of Đanino Božić as a landmark in the landscape of the contemporary Croatian art, as an exceptionally profiled author of a heterogeneous body of work. Before us we have an artist blessed with speculative spirit, an artist travelling apparently disparate roads, responding to different challenges, but persisting firmly in the rational approach to the construction of image. A special note needs to be made of his high standing within the contemporary Croatian art, as well as of his close connections with the broader national and international context throughout his productive career. Although he works outside of “big centres”, in a sort of geographical isolation, his work and the language it speaks stand shoulder to shoulder with the protagonists of both domestic and world scene. This essey is an attempt to unveil this inconspicuous and slightly withdrawn, but well-timed partaker of this very exciting time – the time of extensive re-evaluation and reassessment of the nature of painting, of the nature of visual arts themselves, the time in which the foundations are being laid for new views on the language of visual arts, on the role of art in general and of artist’s persona and condition. Owing to his authentic instinct, Božić is able to detect the challenges of his time and respond to them promptly, productively and relevantly, leaving behind in his paintings and objects a multitude of his own answers – answers which withstand the test of time, answers that bear witness of a turbulent, even contradictory spiritual and creative context.
For decades he has been drawn by the idea that the artist of our time must no longer perceive himself as a specialist in a singular discipline or technique. Thus he has experienced the dematerialisation of an art object, has realized the role of the mental and analytical component in the groundwork of art and its modus operandi, has been applying mixed media techniques, while his pronounced auto-reflexivity resulted in the need to explain through his paintings and objects his idea of the nature and phenomenology of art, refusing to remain on the margins of developments in a broader context of arts and culture.
As a very young author – driven more by instinct than by erudition – he accepted the challenges of the 1980s, attracted by their unknowns and even more by his resistance towards conventions of the then dominant art. However, soon enough he became aware that even this “new art” (trans-avantgarde and post-informel) is nothing but another specific language risking no less than the rest – a risk no art form is spared of – to end up a prisoner of its own conventions, parameters of expression and self-imposed restrictions. So he choosed to keep out of dominant international trends and embark on perhaps
less attractive, but, for a reflexive individual, more important missions and challenges.
However, it is more than evident that his art, regardless of the passage of time, has remained true to its fundamental propositions and attributes. Božić brilliantly elaborates the problem-posing character of his own creative effort, never doubting its validity. With each new cycle he engages with a specific problem, never failing to achieve the unity of the idea and its realisation. Relentlessly he keeps persuading us that the art of painting needs to be analysed in its structural process, in its inherent order(s), with special emphasis on the material distinctiveness of constitutive elements of a painting,
resulting in the interpretation of artistic activity as an autonomous and autochthonous practice. The focus is on the organisation of the picture, on the very procedure, the
building process, which should never be mistaken for a purely analytical operation. That is what earned him a reputation of the author whose analytical and auto-reflexive stance shifts from the immediate and expressive to the metalinguistical.
Among Croatian artists, Božić is perhaps the most persistent – and therefore the most successful – participant in the debate on art and its specific linguistic tools.
Owing to his rational approach to painting, the end result is always subject to verification in accordance with the proposed method. Even the way he paints out the surface is almost analytical: the working process itself includes follow-up stages and conscious decision-making throughout the process. Božić is a contemplative and sensitive painter at the same time, his artwork is a product of a mental stance, of awareness of the painting process, in a time when this practice is in a permanent and deep crisis. On the other hand, he is a very sensual painter who handles the colour and its body with
utmost subtlety. Notwithstanding the intricate problems as are the ones he treats, his authorial persona manages to transmit and demonstrate the playfulness of his own creative
potentials, never neglecting esthetical qualities of the final product evidenced in the tangible, corporeal quality of his paintings and objects. As much as his geometric abstractions may give an impression of austerity, of a cold and calculated mind, Božić’s paintings and objects manifest a ludic quality – warmth, playfulness and vivacity.
On the other hand, another constant of his work is a subtle and discreet poetry.
Despite his ambitious analytical mindset and his reductionism to elementary geometric shapes, rarely will he sacrifice the sensuality of colour: instead of the expected austerity and dryness, we are being presented with the visual emission of his ch plasticity of the palpable body of his paintings – another evidence of his exceptional graphic, pictorial sensibility. Concise as they may be, his paintings and objects never lose faith in almost classical completeness within the boundaries of the painted surface. However paradoxical it may sound, in this artwork of a highly cultivated execution there is no trace of suppression of pleasure in the painting process and it never goes to the detriment of its final consequence – the esthetical component. It is rare to see in the Croatian art such an extraordinary subtlety and refinement of colouristic relations, such a thorough cultivation of the field of a painting. By his radicalism, by coherence and consistency of the tasks he imposed on himself, by his ideas, procedures and working methods, Đanino Božić appears as the epitome and the paradigm of the artist who stands firm and upright in the time and the place in which such a posture is not so easy to
maintain As he works in the environment lacking stimulating competition of authors of the same or similar orientation, Božić’s evolution proceeds in leaps, as a process of an autonomous prise de conscience of a person and author. His recent work demonstrates the same appeal, the same visual strength and, above all, profusion of technical innovation.
Božić goes on creating his artwork, driven by belief that the road he chose a long time ago has not reached its destination yet, that he has not exhausted all his preoccupations,
all the questions to be asked. In his work we still read the ascending movement of the problem-induced innovation and enthusiasm, with no signs of fading imagination or diminished sensibility on the horizon.
(Summery taken from the book „Đanino Božić“ – HDLUI & Medit – 2012)
COURTESY DANINO BOZIC, JERICA ZIHERL – galerie wuensch aircube
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