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Lidija Merenik
New Phenomena in the Serbian Painting and Sculpture 1979-1989
A Selective Chronology

In recent years, criticism and discussions of Belgrade art in the eighties have been nostalgic, frequently pathetic and mystifying. Believing that mystification and nostalgia should be confronted by scientific facts, that myths of a certain period are best decoded and demystified from a temporal distance, when observed without exaggerated emotions, I have decided to make known this chronology as a potential map of important events that took place on the artistic scene of Belgrade in 1980s. It is unquestionable that the Serbian art of that period achieved bright moments of its emancipated European urban articulation. The "new image art" from 1979-1989, practiced by three generations of artists, played a significant role in the reception of postmodernism in this region and produced works crucial for the interpretation of postmodernist strategy in art. It is also evident that it was the last decade of the so-called "Yugoslav cultural space" and the last moment before the events that followed and had no relationship to art, the events art could influence in no way. Therefore, the art of the eighties is the product of its time, "the last of the relatively good, and the first of the worst" days we have experienced. It shared the destiny of its environment, just like the art of this region has done in the preceding centuries and decades. Consequently, nostalgic references mean much more than pure recollections and exceed the area of art history; the mystification of the eighties is more political that art-historical. The latter still has to overcome the superfluous or false sentiments and continue the analysis of the artistic achievements from 1979-1989; the task has just been initiated and awaits younger, and more objective, researchers than myself.

This selective chronology is an integral part of the master's thesis bearing the same title, completed in 1992. In the meantime, Prometej from Novi Sad has published a booklet called Belgrade in the Eighties: New Phenomena in Painting and Sculpture, but without this chronology, since it was difficult, sometimes even impossible, to complete it with additional data on certain exhibitions and events.

In accord with the topic of this investigation (dedicated primarily to painting and sculpture) and the title of this work, this chronology refers, first of all, to relevant exhibitions and a number of events related to the phenomenon of new image art and the then prevalent poetics, characteristic of the ninth decade. It does not list all artistic happenings from 1979 to 1989, but makes a non-specific choice of those I consider relevant for the global postmodernist artistic scene of the eighties, exemplified through painting and sculpture. The chronology does not include other visual media first of all the precious television and video production of the first half of the 1980s, and makes just sporadic mention of photography. And although, on the one hand, one can accept this fact as a defect of this work, on the other I believe that this is only a beginning of a research that could help others penetrate more seriously the unexplored areas, and I support them warmly in advance.

This selective chronology covers solo and group exhibitions held in Belgrade and Serbia, exhibitions in other Yugoslav centres and abroad where Serbian artists participated, and important foreign exhibitions held in Belgrade. The first version of this chronology was made on the basis of only two then existing chronologies, one made by Jovan Despotovic for the catalogue The Art of the Eighties, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, 1983, and the other prepared by Bojana Peic for the exhibition called Art and Criticism in the Midst of 1980s, Sarajevo, 1986. I also used catalogues from my own documentation and other accessible gallery and museum programmes. The latest addition was made with the help of the chronology compiled by M. Arsic for Current Trends in the Painting of Vojvodina 1973-1993, an overview of selected one-person and group exhibitions, Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, Novi Sad, 1994, and the anniversary catalogue of the Youth House in Belgrade 1964-1994, a chronicle of its gallery's exhibitions, Belgrade 1995, pp. 361-385, although this chronology, prepared by K. Stefanovic, does not list dates of shows nor catalogue data. The extensive catalogue of M. Arsic also contains detailed bio-bibliographic data for individual artists from Vojvodina.

Comments on this chronology: exact dates of exhibitions were not available and therefore only months are indicated; at certain points there are no data on catalogues and exhibitors, because this information was either not available or non-existent; only the most representative editions of magazines are listed. More details can be found in D. Aranitovic, "Izabrana bibliografija, recepcija postmoderne u Jugoslaviji" (A Selective Bibliography the Reception of Postmodernism in Yugoslavia), Gledista 5-6, 1990, pp. 131-149. Of course, the insufficiencies of this initial selective chronology are subject to additions, critical remarks and further investigations.

(Belgrade, December 1995)

Please refer to the Chronology given on pages 80-116.



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