Ode to the Sun and Light
His intimism and all poetic phases withdraw before the eruptive and solar force of his coloring. He imbued everything into quick moves, into tasty coloring, into sunlight – the vivid landscape, olive groves, the sea, and the lean red soil. He studied painting in Munich, graphic art in Prague, lights in the Mediterranean. He lived in Belgrade since 1948. People remember his exhibitions, his unique lyricism, Caravaggio-like painting on black background. People also remember the unusual way he departed, at the age of 97

By: Dejan Đorić

Stojan Aralica was one of the classics of Serbian art, most present at exhibitions this year. They were organized in the RTS Gallery in Belgrade and Gallery of Pavle Beljanski in Novi Sad. He is a famous artist, who lived almost a hundred years (Škare, Lika, 1883 – Belgrade, 1980), witness and participant of the rise and fall of modern art. Together with Zora Petrović and Milan Konjović, Aralica is the most expressive Serbian colorist. His intimism and phases of passing through then actual movements, from bourgeois academism and cubism to expressionism, withdraw before the eruptive, solar force of his coloring. A painter who spent most of his time in Dalmatia, homeland of Lika, and Rovinj, painting, absorbing and researching the vivid landscape, he immersed olive groves, the sea and red soil into a quick move of the brush and juicy coloring, bathing the sight in sunlight, without caring about academic rules or current styles. His entire opus is actually dedicated to only one subject – ode to the Sun and light.


His great adventure of reality solarization began commonly. After his first amateur works, he went to study in Munich, in the class of Karl Mar and Ludwig Herterich, whose students were also Branko Popović, Živorad Nastasijević, Kosta Josipović, Miodrag Petrović, tragic Danica Jovanović and almost the entire constellation of the Croatian early modern art. After the outbreak of World War I, he mastered graphic art in Prague for two years, which enabled him to become chief of graphic design department of the Zagreb Novosti daily after the war. After his first independent exhibition in 1920 in Zagreb, he traveled Spain and North Africa (Pyrenees, Gibraltar, Tanger, Sahara, Morocco and Tunisia). He entered the circle of orientalists, painters and writers who looked for inspiration under the hot Southern sun, from Gustave Flaubert, Eugene Delacroix, Vereshchagin to Paul Klee and August Macke. In the ideological and artistic sense, it was almost always crucial for artists. Then he visited Italy, Florence and Rome, and from 1924 to 1934 lived in Paris, similar to most of our artists between the two wars. He went to the school of Andre Lot for a year, not a very important cubist painter, but an important pedagogue and good theoretician, in whose studio several Serbian painters studied. He had an impressive exhibition at the ”Bernheim Jeune” Gallery in Paris in 1931, together with Milo Milunović, Marko Čelebonović and Milivoje Uzelac. Besides landscape and still life, he was also successful in portrait painting. He received a purchase order to paint the royal family, as well as his friends Kosta Strajnić, the most important art critic between the wars, ignored and bitter at the time of socialism, and philosopher Branislav Petronijević. (Strajnić is still forgotten today, despite his extraordinary books.)


Aralica married a woman from Sweden and had a son. He spent World War II in Belgrade, separated from his family. In the historical year of soc-realism breakdown and return of our art towards the world, 1951, he had an independent exhibition, at the same time as Petar Lubarda, Peđa Milosavljević and Milan Konjović. He later became member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and Yugoslav Academy of Science and Art.
Perhaps more important than that was his dedication to painting until the end of his life. After finding a new artistic value inside his opus in his older age, as Nikola Kusovac writes, ”he developed a fresh, original and artistically impressive poetics. From the remains of form, which he never completely cancelled, by introducing black color as a solder and a kind of active base, he solidified shape again.” During almost his entire artistic life, he dispersed form, made it dissolute, only to return to it at the end, using a rare way of forming painting, Caravaggio’s: painting on black instead of light base.
Stojan Aralica’s life and passion for painting were marked by success, joy and serenity. The character of this painter is best testified by Momo Kapor in an interview given to Dragana Marković in 1992 for the Vojska magazine: ”You have young old men of 22, who whine all the time, and you have young men of 80, who paint the most serene shades. Do you know how Stojan Aralica died at the age of 97? He was at the Military Medical Academy with two generals in the room. One morning he said: ‘I will now cover myself with a sheet and pretend I’m dead.’ He covered himself and everyone around him roared with laughter. The doctor came, shook Aralica, and found out he was really dead. He died laughing.”


Stojan Aralica (Škare, Otočac, December 24, 1883 — Belgrade, February 4, 1980), Serbian painter and graphic artist, member of the Association of Fine Artists of Serbia, Serbian Academy of Science and Arts and Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts. Member of art groups ”Shape”, ”Twelve”, and ”Six”. He studied in Munich and Prague, lived in Rome, Paris, Stockholm… He worked as a teacher for a while, in the village of Brestač near Ruma. Since 1948, he settled in Belgrade and stayed there until the end of his life. His opus consists of more than 1.500 works of art. Chronologically, it can be separated into the Munich, Paris, Zagreb and Belgrade phase, with clearly determined styles. His most important paintings are ”Motif from Lošinj”, ”Woman with a Straw Hat”, ”Portrait of B. Petronijević”, ”Path”…
He died in Belgrade on February 4, 1980. He was buried in the Alley of Worthy Citizens at the Novo Groblje cemetery in Belgrade.


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