Curated by Sava Stepanov
Against The Chaos
Slobodan Abi Knežević’s drawings and graphics testify to the obsession of this Novi Sad artist with discovering, celebrating and providing order, concord and harmony at a certain point and in the midst of chaos. He deliberately invokes these principles of neoplasticism at a specific time, which may be understood as the act of a socially engaged artist wanting to oppose his ideas to the pervading atmosphere of distorted criteria and hopelessness. Here he makes no concessions: his geometry is formalistically pure, clear and precise. In the arrangement of the lines, the way they mesh, their positioning and interrelationship, they pulse with the artist’s sensibility. For there are times when Knežević’s geometry seems to us both logical and illogical; the directions in which the black lines spread out or break off, the way in which broad and narrow short lines join, continue or are interrupted, bewilders us. At exhibitions, he will quite often extemporise, joining his drawings in a diptych, triptych or polyptych as it occurs to him, discovering what to him are logical links – which, in fact, are nothing other than the articulation of a state of mind, emotions and a sense of balance at that particular point. This is what makes the excitement evident in these paintings, aroused by questions of civilisation and the events of our time, as visible and quantifiable as in a coordinate system.
A current development in Knežević’s art are his drawings on fibreboard. Here the lines are not drawn but carved with precision into the board. With the experience of a tried graphic artist to guide him, at one point he took these drawings as a block print and printed off a series of extraordinarily precise graphic compositions from them. The result is remarkable, unique in contemporary graphics in this country. White-line configurations, executed with computer-like precision on a black background (printed on a press in traditional fashion) are brought to the concrete autonomy of a linear configuration, a creation which possesses its own formal and poetic individualism. The Italian modernist critic, Filberto Menna, has said that “art has the right to its own individuality – not to become dissociated, but to offer its own example to serve as model for other arts and practices”. Not only in these works but throughout his entire opus, Slobodan Knežević provides a model that promotes the feeling and idea of a meditative serenity and silence; it upholds an art that persuades the onlooker to find within himself that same meditative tranquillity, rationalist harmony and balance, so badly needed to meet the challenges of the world in which we live.
Gallery STAS, Petrovaradin