Biljana Đurđević’s artistic practice, spanning two and a half decades, continuously evolves around researching the conceptual potentials of the medium of classical painting, while in recent years, her creative interests have expanded to include work in the domain of stop-motion animation. The authentic visual poetics is the result of her dedicated study of classical paintings and the works of great masters, but also socio-historical and cultural circumstances from early renaissance and baroque to the modern period and vanguard movements.
This has enabled the artist to tap into a treasure trove of visual, narrative, conceptual sources and references, which she shapes into symbolic representations-statements, mutually thematically and problematically related primarily in that they focus on the complexity of human nature, or rather, the character of psychological relationships we establish, individually or collectively, with different social-value models and systems in the world around us. Realism and figuration, some of the chief stylistic and formal characteristics of Biljana’s art, are merely an initial interpretative framework for images layered with iconography and meaning, whose content is determined by, on the one hand, reminiscing about the diverse spectrum of genres and motifs and composition models from the long and rich history of painting, and on the other, the conceptual standpoints the author derives from literary-reflexive forms. Classical literature, ancient and modern philosophy, medieval poetry and renaissance incunabula, traditional and religious epic, become poetic and theoretical starting points in the artist’s problematic-critical analysis of contemporary social phenomena of alienation, social anxiety, aggression, violence, institutionalised control mechanisms, media manipulation, and induction of fear, which she visually compresses into curious allegories imbued with dramatic charge. Thus in Biljana’s paintings, we witness situations that imply a dose of “suspense”: we infer the stream of events from the emotional states of the protagonists, intensified by the atmosphere of the environments in which the artist places them, dramatising additionally their position of power(lessness) in stories and the permanently open question of human nature, the uncertainties we might face as living beings when faced with oppression or, conversely, our ability to turn into agile oppressors.
Case Study is a sequel to the artist’s previous research started within a series of works entitled Instrument of Activity, which thematises the crucial setup that allows the functioning of today’s society, engulfed in processes of continuous production and consumption, routinisation of everyday life, efficiency and effectiveness as the dominant social value criteria. Biljana’s ideas aim at re-examining and problematising man’s ambitions and his constant desire to control, instrumentalise, “commodify” the surrounding world, and the mechanisms of their realisation, which often bring violent methods, exploitation, disenfranchising, or cancellation of individual and collective liberties. Case Study is partly based on a graphic novel that the author published in 2020, which was first visually elaborated in a series of large- and medium-format paintings in which she introduced novelties in her creative process, and later also in video animations, completing an extraordinary essayistic transmedia approach to the subject. The cinematic quality of the images emphasised by framing interior or exterior situations – long, deserted factory corridors, railway stations, industrial landscape – sets a specific dramatic tone in the appearances of leading actors, depersonalised exponents of exploitation systems, in the act of surveillance, control, and potential punishment of disobedient subordinates. At the height of global social and economic changes, exploitation practices have become omnipresent, nuanced only in terms of the resources being used and whether they are implemented in the interest of wealthy individuals, corporations, or “life-saving” privatisations of ruined socially-owned property. To Biljana Đurđević in this exhibit, this represents a starting point for a case study on human, social, and ethical degradation that aren’t part of some dystopian vision of the future but a reflection of the world in which we live today.
Biljana Đurđević (Belgrade, 1973) graduated in 1997 from the painting department of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, where she also completed her magisterial and doctoral studies. She has been working at the faculty since 2009. During 2011 and 2012, she was a guest teacher at Parsons University – The New School in New York. Since 1998, she has had solo exhibitions in the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Haifa Museum of Art, Israel, Berlin’s Davide Galo Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, Cultural Center Belgrade, Braverman Gallery in Tel Aviv, Dr. Éva Kahán Foundation in Budapest and Vienna etc. She participated in many group exhibitions in the country and abroad, including Ars Danubiana, Regensburg; FAQ Serbia, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York; Playlist, Museum of Contemporary Art, Stockholm; The Artist’s Glance, Frissiras Museum, Athens; On Normality, Museum of Contemporary Art, Klagenfurt; Footnotes on geopolitics, market and amnesia, 2nd Moscow Biennale, Moskva; Passion for Art – Kunst der Gegenwart, 35 years of Essl Collection, Klosterneuburg, Austria; Zones of Contact, 15th Biennale of Sydney, Gallery of New South Wales, Australia… Her works have been included in public and private collections in the country and abroad: Albertina Museum, Austria; Moderna Museet, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade; Frissiras Museum, Greece; Ascona Museum of Modern Art, Switzerland etc.
Curator: Miroslav Karić
Photo: Bojana Janjić / MoCAB