The Art of Miloš Šobajić has been written about in almost all the languages in the world. However, each new exhibition brings the universal topics of his paintings and installations into the spot light, once again.
Painter and sculptor of European and global reputation, a member of the Paris circle, the great Milos Sobajic never thought, when he arrived to the City of Light in 1972, that seven years later he would be entering the world of Pablo Picasso in a specific way. The studio France provided to the young Serbian painter at Montmartre used to be a part of the space in which one of the greatest painters ever turned history on its head.
That’s the dangerous history of the beginning of the 20th century. Picasso came into this space as an impoverished man and in 1908 painted the first Cubist painting, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”. It marked a complete upheaval in painting, as perspective was abandoned for the first time. After icons, which were staring at the observer from a reverse perspective, the first true perspective arrived with an Italian painter of the early Renaissance, Paolo Uccello, who painted two famous “Battles”, one is now in Louvre, the other in the National Gallery in London. Five centuries later, along comes Picasso and produces a painting with no perspective whatsoever. It’s as if our world has lost all perspective since and has no idea where to go next. Immediately after, World War I started and, as we know, brought total annihilation, our self-destruction and the destruction of God, and where is God in all this… So there, in my studio Le Bateau-Lavoir, meaning “the boat wash-house”, the space at the Emile Goudeau square that got its nick name from the poet Max Jacob, Picasso painted these “Demoiselles d’ Avignon” that changed history, recalls Milos Sobajic for “Reminder”. There is another chance connection with Picasso, who, during his lifetime, yearned: “Give me a museum, I will fill it up with art myself” – Milos was offered a legacy by the City of Belgrade, that the great painter could easily fill up with art. Many who wrote about Sobajic and his art believe that he could, whether they are the most significant critics and art historians like the Englishman Edward Lucie-Smith, who compared Sobajic with Gericault, a French artist from the 19h century, or the Frenchman Alain Jouffroy or German Edward Kosch, who wrote that, when you stand in front of Sobajic’s art, you have a feeling that the world has come crashing down on you and broken your toes. Or journalists, columnists of the prestigious Herald Tribune and Times, who were enthralled with “A Leap Forward” exhibited at the Dutch museum Danubiana Meulensteen, located on a river island not far from Bratislava. One time, we recorded the artist’s famous sentence which seems to best reflect this grown man with the soul of a child and a brush that creates wonders: I opened my arms to embrace the planet.
If he could, he would give this same planet the hue he likes best.
I would paint the planet in Byzantine Blue, it is the most beautiful colour, says Sobajic, for whom the touch most divine is to see the world in his own eyes and then put it up on a canvas. For this member of the “Paris Circle”, this is the “divine beauty that lets me do what I love to do the most, to copy life the way I see it.”
And I see it with the eyes of a critic, says the artist. Perhaps this is why there are no women in his art, while he is truly in love with their beauty and spirituality and is now married to Maya Isherdo, grand-daughter of a Peruvian shaman, without whom, he says, he could not imagine a single day.
Women are beautiful and too gentle to be placed in these hideous paintings of mine. I paint a creature, it’s not a man or a woman, but rather an organism. I remember, when I was a young man in Paris, I named my paintings that, reveals the painter. Like many artists, he carries within himself different creative periods and vortices that he paints onto his canvases. Even though he has sold all his early works, the artist always has the strongest bond with his latest period and his latest painting. He is preparing to continue with his latest series, “Escape” and “Suffocation”.
I have a large exhibition coming next April in Novi Sad, at the centennial of Vojvodina’s merger with Serbia, with enormous canvases, sculptures, featuring many people… You will see what it looks like. This is what I like the best, says Sobajic. His family seems to have seen his orientation coming. Some of his early works from the ’70ies and ’80ies were preserved thanks to his parents, primarily his father, a diplomat, who is also the person deserving the most credit for his professional orientation and his life’s calling.
My father diligently collected everything I drew since I was five years old and looking at me, he would always say: You will be a painter. When he encouraged me to go to the Academy, I asked him how much money Milo Milunovic was making. He said, more than Tito. So then I said, that’s it, I will go there too. I liked money back then, laughs the artist whose work is now featured in thirty of the most prestigious museums and galleries world-wide, and only in some of the most prestigious private collections. He also explains how his relationship with money evolved, from the story of Milunovic and his bank account.
Salvador Dali said he would never turn down any amount of money, so why should I turn it down for my art; every painting costs as much as the buyer pays for it. Among the buyers of my art was the Contemporary Art Museum from Liege. In 2011, this painting was featured among one of the most prestigious collections, with a history spanning six centuries, from the Flemish masters to present day, says Sobajic, who is one of the rare people who, arriving to Paris with a suitcase, was not an interior decorator, waiter…
It seems that in my life, I have had good fortune, as well as the bad. I came to Paris and a lucky star rose above me, I ran into the right people and after a year, I realized that I had had two exhibitions. One at Lambert’s, the other at Vercel’s. The famous surrealist critic Patrick Waldberg, a Parisian of American origin, got me into the Lambert Gallery, which was my first exhibition in France. It took of well, I started living off my work, and off love, of course, there is nothing without love, says Sobajic, whose huge canvases are now coming to life in a large hangar transformed into an art studio, in the Belgrade Harbour.
autor: Dragan Milivojević