14th January/02 February 

Kulturni Centar Beograd 

Milan Konjović and Stevan Kojić: About art (and about the bicycle)

Critics Have Chosen is an exhibition which has been organised at the Fine Arts Gallery of the Cultural Centre of Belgrade since 1969. Already a traditional event, in the course of which art historians and fine arts critics present the aspects and the framework of the current fine arts production on the Serbian scene at the beginning of each exhibition season, this exhibition has realised its basic aim by capturing the attention of experts and art aficionados alike. Since the year 2001, it has been modified into an authorial exhibition presented by the winners of the Lazar Trifunović Award for fine arts criticism. Sava Stepanov is the recipient of the Lazar Trifunović Award for the year 2011.

The exhibition Milan Konjović and Stevan Kojić: About art (and about the bicycle) is a relaxed attempt to comparatively overview two oeuvres that are poles apart in every respect. Milan Konjović (1898-1993) is one of the most convincing protagonists of authentic pictoriality and he created and “kept” its core values during his seven decades long painting career, from mid twenties to the end of his creative and life’s journey in 1993. The end of this last decade of the 20th century was the beginning of the creative adventure of Stevan Kojić (1973), an artist who, driven by the impulses of reality, accepted the “screen paradigm” philosophy that marked the global “iconosphere” (M. Porempski), which we are destined to in this time at the start of the century.

In a comparative review of creative procedures and results of two artists, the bicycle appears as a bizarre coincidental and anecdotal detail that makes a connection between the works of Konjović and Kojić – although located at diametrically opposed historical, artistic and conceptual positions – possible and interesting. Бicycle “rides” of Milan Konjović and Stevan Kojić are different in character. The ways they were used by the two artists reveal a lot about the character of their artistic attitudes and their art, and also about the spirit of the times these two artists belong to. Stevan Kojić’s installation with bicycle, viewed from the position of time in which this exhibition is realized, can even be understood as unique and entirely discreet homage to Konjović, to his creative energy and a different understanding of art, picture and its meaning. And such respect can be observed only in the art that bases its effective innovativeness on respecting of fundamental demiurgic and dialectical principles, just as it is the case with artistic expression of Stevan Kojić.

Milan Konjović (Sombor, 1898-1993) started his painting activity very early. His first official teacher was István Réti, a famous Hungarian painter and Konjović attended his School of Free Drawing in Subotica. After the First World War, in which he was an active participant, Konjović studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague under Professor Vlaho Bukovac. After two years he left the Academy and studied painting with Jan Zrzavý, a leading Czech painter of the time. In 1924 Milan Konjović left for Paris and enrolled at the Chaumière Academy and after that, for a short period, attended André Lhote’s Art School. Konjović lived in Paris until 1932 and enjoyed a notable reputation there, and then returned to Sombor, where he lived till his death. In the Second World War Konjović was a prisoner of the concentration camp in Osnabrück for some time. He had over 300 one-man exhibitions and participated in some 700 group exhibition in the country and abroad. In 1966 the Milan Konjović Gallery was founded of the gifts he gave his hometown; more than a thousand paintings, drawings, watercolours, graphic artworks and tapestries are kept there. He was elected a full member of the Vojvodina Academy of Sciences and Arts in Novi Sad in 1979, a corresponding member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb in 1986, and a full member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Belgrade in 1992. He received numerous awards.

Stevan Kojić (1973, Kikinda) graduated with MA from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Sculpture Department. He is a part-time Professor at the New Media Department of the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad. He exhibited and participated in symposiums and workshops in: Austria, France, Croatia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Hungary, Germany, Romania, USA, Slovenia and Serbia. He received several awards: 39th Novi Sad Salon Grand Prix, Novi Sad (2010), 21st Salon Grand Prix, Pančevo (2003); 5th International Biennial of Young Artists Codes of Time, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Konkordija, Vršac (2002); Award for large format nude, Ilija Kolarevic Fund, Faculty of Fine Arts, Belgrade (2000). He is primarily interested in exploring relations among art, society, science and technology through the relationships: analogue/digital, biology/technology, ecology/economy, low-tech/hi-tech, open/closed systems, time/space, virtual/real, etc.