The new reality confronts us with fundamental problems accumulated for decades; it faces us with the realization that the social fabric is fragile in dealing with the new challenges which require collective solutions. And when in front of a network of crossroads, we have a feeling that the basic existence is endangered. Albeit in times of crisis, culture and art come last, this double marginalization can, in turn, be a chance to look at reality in a peculiar way, and to offer a distinct vision of where we are and where we should be heading.
Spaces of oblivion
Aleksandra Petrusevska Ristovska
National Gallery, Multimedia Center Mala Stanica,
The life of a painting or of painting series begins at the moment of its blurry conception, develops through the process of physical execution and, in a true sense, continues to communicate when shared in any reproduced, determined form. The exhibition, on the other hand, is simply a controlled representation of the whole in a spatial installation as seen through the author’s prism.
Painting, as one of the artistic disciplines with a long history, deals with the reproduction of reality, but it also intervenes in reality with subjective visual constructs. It is an attempt to make the world visible, which, although in front of our eyes, remains invisible. As a traditional medium, painting today is putting up a frantic fight for its relevance amongst the new media, the digital technologies that create visual phenomena; yet each attempt to re-contextualize it is, in itself, a great risk. But be it as it may, it demonstrates that the picture as a final result, an incarnated object of communication, and the process of its perception, occur in an almost unchanged way.
From the very beginning, Aleksandra Petrushevska Ristovska proves to be serious artist, and she continuously reinforces it with her presence in the art scene for 15 years, doing it with a unique and subtle engagement. What is evident in her previous works and series , she yet again reiterates in her latest art project.
The exhibition titled “Former Future” rises from a long-term exploration that started back in 2017 and is the first solo appearance of Petrushevska since 2013. The series consists of sixty paintings in different formats, painted with acrylic on canvas, along with digital paintings, worked on a photographic model. A common denominator is that the paintings depict interiors of public institutions, buildings built in the 1970s as part of the modern architecture in Skopje – buildings.
Certain architectural and monumental achievements of Yugoslav socialist modernism have held the attention of the public in the last decade. But most often, the focus was on the exterior and facades, and less on the interior and its condition today. That is, what is the atmosphere like in these institutions, how do we remember them and what does that reveal to us?
Aleksandra Petrushevska Ristovska is an artist who approaches its subject in a very thorough and careful manner and demonstrates a high level of awareness of her surrounding; she observes the space with a focus on the tiniest elements and architectural details, considering fragments, yet also attentive to the atmosphere. This is evident in her emphasis on the importance of framing, composition, and specific chromatic interventions in the construction of space within the painting. Light plays a crucial role in the series. And, as much, the ambient lighting of the exhibition setting itself is also extremely important, including the detailed choice of color for the gallery walls.
The point of view corresponds to that of a human presence, which makes it easier for us to penetrate the surface of the painting, and the empty spaces we are in, although not hyper-realistic, successfully mirror an atmosphere of isolation and solitude, even where cold colors are not dominant. At certain points, especially in the contrast of red and green, the colors create a sense of anticipation that something is about to happen at any moment – and yet, with each passing hour, we witness a prolonged silence. It makes us wonder what has changed, are there any scenes in our memory that are different, full of life? And to think about how, in this context, the whole exhibition would fit within the gallery space (once) designed for contemplation.
Skopje, March 25 – April 20, 2021
Aleksandra Petrushevska Ristovska is an artist and art pedagogue, living and working in Skopje. She has exhibiting since 2005. In her artistic expression, she uses traditional and interdisciplinary techniques through which she reveals the visual and symbolic transformation of space. She explores the shapes of interiors and focuses on details, contrasts and colours. Ristovska participates in both international and regional projects in the field of visual arts and has won several international awards in the field of culture and art.
Technical support: Vlado Dimoski
Photography: Saso Alushevski
Poster design: Seid Tairkovic
Translated by Tea Duza, MA in English Literature