Virtue and Skill

At the End Will Be the Word
As the just opened exhibition at the RTS Gallery convinces us, a book for him is more than an object. Passion and fascination, invitation to a better world, enthusiasm, the basis of three religions. Thus his dealing with sacral geometry, history of bookbinding, relationship between the hand and the handmade, works with a trace of divinity in them. Indefinitely far away from the planetary dump of useless pseudo-objects, the final objective is to ascend a human through books

By: Dejan Đorić

He is an author who indicates not only the relationship and historic conditionality of fine and applied arts, or the return of art as a possibility of cultural and social renaissance. He relies on the ancient and tradition in a modern way. It is his attitude, his creative credo and brief theoretical program, an expression of a nostalgically understood reality in which spiritual aristocrats, dandies and sorcerers search for a new world.
Similar to some of the best authors, he believes in returning to order, harmony and beauty. He researches the three-unity of beauty, goodness and truth (pulchrum, bonum et verum), love for beauty and love for goodness, which are perhaps only philosophical synonyms of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The researchers of beauty (and this crucial word should be written with a capital letter, since beauty has always been in the beginning) are never only analysts; they are always synthetists who never forget anything. It is not a forced turn towards the past, glorifying the lost and introducing a principle opposite from the visionary pursuit of the future. Those two basic models that determine the character and history of a nation are related. If only one prevails, a tragedy can easily happen: narrowing of consciousness, an environmental or social catastrophe. Ćeklić sends out a message that there is no future without the past. Only on the basis of a creative attitude towards tradition, in the original sense of the word (in Latin traditio means instruction, legend), its aesthetical principle can be understood.
In that sense, painter Dragan Mojović and remarkable Serbian philosophers Dionysus Dejan Nikolić and Bogdan Lubardić contemplated the idea and term of supermodernism. It is a modernism ontologically above modernism and postmodernism. Some of the best works of our post-war fine and applied arts originate from the archetypical and conceptual simplicity of this idea. Supermodernism is the same as the seemingly paradoxical modern traditionalism or traditional modernism. It was also the request of Renaissance masters and pre-Raphaelites, whose famous typographer, printer and bookbinder Cobden-Sanderson is a distant role-model of Ćeklić. “There is no such thing as a modern or old painting. There are only good and bad paintings”, academician and painter Milo Milunović used to say.


In the Victorian era of uncertainty of free professions, Cobden-Sanderson rejected the safety of his law office and dedicated himself to books. Aleksandar Ćeklić (Valjevo, 1965), although he had graduated from the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering at the Belgrade University, has been dedicated to bookbinding since 1992. He is member of ULUPUDS. He creates classical and modern bookbindings, he designs and restores books. His works are part of many collections in the country and abroad. In 2008 he was awarded with the “Gligorije Vozarević“ Award of the City of Belgrade Library for the best bookbinder. He had three solo exhibitions and participated in several group ones. The new exhibition of Ćeklić’s works was opened on September 15 at the RTS Gallery, one of the most prominent ones in Belgrade.
He is one of the few Serbian applied artists of the kind who participates at professional international symposiums and publishes scientific works in specialized magazines. His knowledge of the secrets of bookbinding is so great that he corrects the greatest world authorities in this area. He researched the library of the Chilandar Monastery twice, which certainly helped him in confirming his reputation as one of the few experts in the world for the history and creating Byzantine bookbinding.
As for all devotees, a book is more than an object for him; it is passion and enchantment, an invitation into a better world. Didn’t the medieval prelates teach that love for books is a sin? Emil Cioran, considered the greatest philosopher of the XX century by some, who read more than sixteen hours a day, replies: “A book has an unimaginable therapeutic power.”
For Ćeklić, a book is much more than something you read and leave aside. It is, like a sculpture, three-dimensional, and colors and lines bring it closer to painting. The cover, through the sense of touch, adds another dimension.
Alexander Genis, Russian theoretician, writes in his essay “The Hammer” about the present mass production of useless pseudo-objects. Aleksandar Ćeklić wishes to bring back dignity to the object, to tear it away from the rottenness and transience of semi-objects produced to fall apart and be sacrificed for the planetary dump. A book is a sacral object, the basis of three religions and western civilization. Without the binding: its clothing, it is not an object for the eye and the hand, it does not satisfy the senses and the spirit.
In that spirit, old books are renewed and restored in Ćeklić’s studio, and luxurious covers created, with edges to the inside as in the ancient times, with hand-embroidered capitals, leather cut, gilt... These are not standard, routine works of a skilled artisan; they are unique, with a complicated design created for a long time. In such turning towards old crafts, there is always something mythical and mysterious, noble and ideal.


With his artistic expression, Aleksandar Ćeklić is related to the pre-Raphaelites in a certain way, with the Arts&Crafts movement, Viennese secessionists, masters of Art Deco, Wiener Werkstätten, Pierre Legrand, Rosa Adler and bookbinders from the times of historical avant-gardes. Although retro-aesthetics today is very charming and has numerous devotees, it is not familiar with commercialization. Its art brings back dignity to the book, ascends it as a cultural object, valuable, both for the one who owns it and for the one who creates it.
At the times of the decline of traditional artistic forms, painting, sculpture, drawing and poetry, one can act indirectly. Ćeklić’s dealing with sacral geometry, the relationship between the hand and the work, the body and the work, believing in asceticism as an aesthetic principle (which in our lands was first contemplated by deacon Milorad Lazić, who wrote about the hesychasm of books), the request that an artist should resemble a monk – has the objective to ascend a human through books. The ideal are icons and anonymous masters who retreated from the world and handed over to humans works with traces of the divine. Ćeklić thinks that this is how applied and any other arts can be created.
Highly set objectives and ideals make him a unique artist. He is a regular visitor of antique shops, auctions, friend of the best experts in books and collectors in Serbia and abroad. There is something programmed and ritual, ancient and steady in all that. He creates solemnly and slowly, with skill and taste, as an aesthetic. He has formed himself as an artist, in accordance with the motto that a genius makes his own way. Studying history and practice of old Serbian and foreign bindings, collecting rare books, especially those about bookbinding and those made by famous bookbinders, he has constantly been perfecting himself in the circle of the first and contemporary artistic solutions, attempting to unite two cultures – art and bookbinding.
Aleksandar Ćeklić searches for the great secret of the book in the moment it is getting lost, the secret which seals, elevates and ascends letters. It has been written a long time ago that in the beginning was the Word, and in Slavic languages that a letter is glory. Thus the Christian esoteric Emanuel Swedenborg said that the Word will be at the end too.


Leather Mosaic
It is interesting that Aleksandar Ćeklić, besides the art of bookbinding, has now also turned, and with lots of success, to the complementary art of marmoring paper, a special area of bookbinding.
Remarkable in his work are picturesque modern colorful covers made in the leather mosaic technique.


The dry seal on the lower inside cover, discrete signature Al. Ćeklić, means that the object is dedicated, that a human and not a machine made it. Possible mistakes are the consequence of the miraculous trace of a human hand. Speaking in Orthodox Christian terms, it is a personal and not industrial attitude towards a book.


From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију