MORE THAN ART: MEDIALA, FROM MOVEMENT TO HISTORY OF SALVATION
The power of epochal ideas
Mediala is in one hand created of architects, geodesists and painters educated on the Faculty of Architecture, and on the other hand are violators, magicians and sorcerers who came from the mythical country of Crna Gora, from cellars and towers. Using honey and dragons, horror and humor, solar and macabric, fear and eroticism, uranium and underground characteristics, they have created a new art, symbols have bloomed as black suns and genitals. They have crossed the incompatible, invoked the forces, magical ideas, luxurious images of bizarre inspiration, followed by their poetry, essays and theory
By: Dejan Đorić
The previous 2006 was marked by Mediala. As once said Lazar Trifunović, we were enlightened by the magical shine of the comets of Mediala. Miro Glavutrić came from Zagreb after many years and visited his old friends in Belgrade. Kosta Bradić made two of his independent exhibitions, and Siniša Vuković showed us his best old works. The Belgrade audience, thanks to Nikola Mirkov, could see, for the first time, the exhibition of selected oil tempera works of Svetozar Samurović, and Olja Ivanjicki made her own independent exhibition followed by a catalogue and a monograph. After several decades, a retrospective exhibition took place in the National Museum of Kragujevac dedicated to Vladan Radovanović, one of the founders of Mediala, the founder of the Serbian Avant-garde, important for our art just as Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. The retrospective is followed by one of our most serious monographs, in English and in Serbian, which brought to this artist the title of the honorary professor of the University in Ohio. Vladimiri Veličković’s monograph was published as well, and the monograph Ljuba. Big Format. was published in two books, in Serbian and French. The third edition of Anthology of Serbian Painting of the second half of the 20th century was published as well by Živojin Ivanišević (M.A.), where our best painting critics wrote about the greatest part of the painters of Mediala and some of their successors. The fourth edition of this bilingual book is in preparation. Stanislav Živković (Ph. D.), the most important expert alive of Serbian Moderna, in his book Serbian Painting of the 20th Century, published with Matica Srpska, dedicated special chapters to Mediala and its successors.
The best thing of Mediala’s studies is a monograph made by several authors called Mediala, with the reprint of Miroslav’s Gospel and a two-volume edition Belgrade, a Town of Secrets representing our best publishing project. Mediala consists of three books, in Serbian, French and English, with a DVD including a movie about the work of Mediala between 1959 and 1969. Monograph Mediala won the Golden Seal for design at the Belgrade Book Fair in 2006 and the prize ”Publisher of the Year” for the Publishing Company ”Službeni Glasnik” which became a member of the group of publishing giants in Serbia. This publication is printed on the level of the best European publications. This would be the first book in the library dedicated to the art of Mediala, with the help of Gradimir Madžarević, the Editor-in-Chief and in the name of the ”Serbian Cultural Association” as the co-publisher of the monograph. This book and the Ministry of Culture have contributed the most that a sort of a Museum of Mediala is organized in the Belgrade Museum of Yugoslavia in 2006.
THE MAGIC OF THE EXTREME AND THE UNITY OF OPPOSITION
We can ask ourselves: why is so much expert and media attention dedicated to Mediala? Why is it making so much interest in the country and around the world? Let’s find the answers.
What is Mediala? A group of nebulous avant-gardes, as some wrote about it so viciously, a spiritual movement or a gathering of special individuals, from which some have got the attention of the French audience and critics? How can we evaluate Mediala when it is a crossroads of traditional and experimental in an extreme shape? Is it only a form of post-surrealism, an anachronism or a great discovery? I shall try to provide you with some answers.
The name of Mediala itself is an aesthetic program, an ontological syntagm, a crossroads of different worlds and visions. It is consisted of two words, ”med” (meaning ”honey” in Serbian, and in French we use the word ”miel”) and ”ala”, the old Serbian name for a monster or a dragon. The unity of these meanings is creating new semantic fields and different interpretations. With Leonid Šejka, the main theoretician of the group, Miro Glavutrić, says: ”Behind one dialectics, there was one trialectics. The dialectics of the honey and the dragon, a progressively growing entropy and anarchy, the dragons of very long lasting myths and esotery, finished in the third place, the place of synthesis, never-ending triads, in Mediala, which is the synthetic form of the thesis of the honey and antithesis of the dragon. In our theories there was a synthesis and a point of convergence.” Mediala is penetrated by mysticism, abstractness and beauty in a supernatural sense. It has brought a great art because of its epochal ideas. Many people think that Mediala is the most important phenomenon in Serbian history of art and our biggest contribution to world’s culture.
It is marked by a struggle between oppositions, magic of the extreme, which was cultivated in painting as an aesthetic and artistic echo of the binary world structure. Mediala has its ancestors and successors, its family of philosophers, alchemists, magicians and spiritual revolutionaries. Charles Fort says: ”I am not a realist. I am not an idealist. I am an intermedialist.” ”We rode on tigers; if we fall the tigers will eat us”, adds Glavutrić.
In Belgrade, Mediala gathered a circle of poets, theoreticians, writers, collectors, cineastes and younger admirers. Mediala was the founder of the most valuable things in Serbian culture, it has formed an elite, just like Dado Đurić, Ljuba Popović and Vladimir Veličković gathered the most eminent poets, critics, philosophers and academics in Paris and Rome.
A HIGHER FORM OF FANTASY
Mediala is supported by Gustav René Hocke, Giorgio di Genova, Enrico Crispolti, Jurgis Baltrusaitis, Etamble, Gaétan Picon, René de Solier, Sarane Alexandrian, Roland Villeneuve, Patrik Wahlberg, Marc le Botte, Michel Random, René Passeron, André Pierre de Mandiargues, Alain Bosquet, David Larkin, Sam Hunter, Danilo Kiš, Dušan Makavejev and many more. The greatest painter alive, Ernst Fuchs wrote with dignity about Dado Đurić, while Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer, Jean Dubuffet and Henri Michaud immediately recognized the value of his work.
This is what made Dragoš Kalajić, a great expert on Mediala, to write the following: ”Mediala is a unique, authentic phenomenon of magical crystallized values in the history of European culture of the 20th century. The metaphor of ”crystallizing” is not just an expression of rhetoric thinking but an attempt of expressing a special form of unity of spiritual tensions. Special characteristics of ’Mediala’ are much different from these that we see with regular configurations of modern art such as ’groups’, ’movements’, ’trends’ or ’tendencies’. All these forms of organization accept or express, in an implicit or explicit way, the conception of ’linear’ history of appearing or disappearing, while ’Mediala’ is turned to the spheres of sur-history and the absolute with its greatest enthusiasm.”
The painting of Mediala is close to surrealism, as a higher form of fantasy or as a form of fantasy which exists before or after surrealism. According to theoretic facts, it tries to unite valuable elements of different cultures while not rejecting modern art. It does not represent the Marxist rebel against the bourgeois art and reality, even if it hates mediocrity, and it is not surreal but entire. Šejka suggested terms such as pan realism and relationism as synonyms for Mediala. Its character is much more contra revolutionary because it unites classicism and avant-garde, gothic and futuristic, antique and conceptual, trying to overcome all limits and to reach the Center, in Indian mysticism called akash, to the Borges’ point Alef.
ART AS A PRAYER
Mediala is penetrated by intuition and magic instead of divisions, atomizing styles, analytic processes and all forms of positivism. It has its own empires of honey and golden lights, its artistic continent whose banks are splashed with black seas of melancholy and occultism. Mediala is a prophecy and an inspiration, violation, transcendental form of all ontological parts of conscience, the power to reach to the sacred and the magical. Its heroes are sleepwalkers, but scientists as well, inspired by the appearance of Balthazar the wanderer, the Belgrade Ahasuerus who is proclaimed to be a free man. Milovan Vidak and others have been passionately and wisely explored the sacral basis of architecture, naometry, just like Sir Isaac Newton.
Mediala is in one hand created of architects, geodesists and painters educated on the Faculty of Architecture, and on the other hand are violators, magicians and magicians who came from the mythical country of Crna Gora, from cellars and towers. Using honey and dragons, horror and humor, solar and macabric, fear and eroticism, uranium and underground characteristics, they have created a new art, symbols have bloomed as black suns and genitals. They have crossed the incompatible, invoked the forces, magical ideas, luxurious images of bizarre inspiration, followed by their poetry, essays and theory.
Leonid Šejka, the first among the equals, predicted the planetary and interplanetary trash pile in the 50’s, and established his philosophy and his art as a theologian, in the spirit of great ascetics. For him, the city was a sort of hell, and the Trash pile was a labyrinth of temptation above whose ruins he saw a Castle and a divine area of redemption. Just as Dante, he moved from hell across the purgatory to heaven, and he left, yet to early, leaving a finished opus and a last message written just a few hours before he died: ”Painting is a form of prayer.”
He and his followers have established the ideal of a complete painting, unknown in the art of the 20th century. From polarizations, magic of the extreme and the principal of unity of the opposite (they took it from Nikola Kuzanski) they formed the hypothesis of absolute, mediala art, which would overcome the limitations and the oppositions of phenomenon of the 20th century. After the ideas of Nikolaj Berdjajev about growing Neo-barbarism and the approaching Medieval Age, Mediala predicted a new Renaissance and the renovation of the painting, and Vladan Radovanović went even further trying to make a synthesis of all existing arts.
Mediala united the North and the Mediterranean, Gnostics and patriarchs, a nightingale and a snake, alchemy and psychology, painting and royalty. In the dirty, gray, socialistic Belgrade of the 50’s, in the hell of Moderna, on the Trash pile and the place of execution of a century, after and during the vanishing of all values, infamous and persecuted, surrounded by cold, hunger and poverty, a horrible, but bright soteriological painting was born, turned towards nature and salvation. The aesthetic of Mediala is eschatological; heavenly sights can be seen from its walls, terraces, towers and castles, empires of spirit where light illuminates the prayer.