We are very fortunate to have Adrian Stojkovich joining us at MAC and presenting our new drawing course.
Adrian is as endearing in real life as his work. He carries a youthful energy, seemingly swaggering on the edge of the precipice of creative potentiality he is about to dive into. His work, traced with cool, skilled abandon is undergird by a sound humanity and is about to fall into something wonderful.
Based in Melbourne, Adrian completed his Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours in 2009, and his Masters of Fine Art in 2013 at the Victorian College of the Arts. His recent show at Paradise Hills in Richmond was made up of room of large abstract works and a room of dead fish paintings. He can handle either style well, demonstrating that he is an artist and painter who has taken the time to explore his craft at a high technical level. The work is infused with subtle passion but maintains the clarity to steer his little project whichever way he chooses.
Adrian’s abstract work comprises hovering planes of coloured marks on a consistent pale, or dark, or umber background. The marks vary in size and slightly in tone, diffusing beneath layers of thin paint, therefore creating several planes. Despite being on a flat, consistent background, the marks drift off into pockets of infinity. Like little galaxies or the infinite suggested by certain repetitive patterns. These paintings aspire for a greater harmony, a greater resolution, a sense that there is or could be an infinite. The colours Adrain uses are slightly cool and acid, slightly sour yellows and greens, supported by pastels and more mellow cool colours. The colour combinations are fresh enough to keep the whole project interesting yet still harmonise. Abstraction at this end of its historical passage is difficult to do well and Adrian passes it off successfully.
Contrasting these abstract works are the dead fish, Fish Tondo painting, two of which he also presented at Paradise Hills. Painted on large circular canvases, the fish paintings maintain an element of abstraction in the big sweeping forms of fish bodies in glass bowls. Up close, they erupt into the most beautiful colours gently laced with glazing. If for a moment you can avoid seeing the fish as you stand back, they are big sweeping abstracts and up close, masterly plays of raw colour. But they are fish, dead and dumped into a bowl for someone’s consumption or aesthetic amusement. There is a fishy, slimy look to the water they are in, with bubbles hovering around the gill area. They undoubtedly reference the Dutch Golden Age and its genre of dead fish paintings. The works speak of life, survival, death and mortality. Painting is a trade for Adrian, from recent abstraction to 17th century Dutch painting, he knows that trade.
He also knows installation and representation. He created a fascinating work in 2014 whereby he rebuilt from historical photographs, the Mercedes Benz within which Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza was assassinated in 1980. An insightful investigation of popular media, it hovers between the same banal pop appropriation we have become accustomed to in the last three generations and the other tired contemporary art influence, Duchamp’s found object. But it is not the original object and its role as a facsimile seems to be very tentative. The power of the work is in its materiality and absences. It describes severe violence that we are all familiar with from our own current news reports. It describes the destruction of the impact of a rocket propelled grenade on a car. We know it is not the real deal but the materials, charred, torn and burned are the same, not just a copy. There is something real about the object we see. The knowledge that lives were lost is also very real. The absence of bodies in the installation makes the suggestion of death more relevant. The work jolts out from the plethora of violent images we see every day, somehow adding gravitas back to the humanity, or lack of humanity of the those original images. It recontextualises the decontextualised pop image into a new discourse of humanity and mortality.
Adrian is a solid young artist who knows his craft as a painter and handles the complexities of contemporary art and representation well. He has built up a sound base early in his career with wonderful results. Now what remains is to see what Adrian will do next.
During this six-week course, Adrian will introduce strategies and techniques for drawing from Still Life. This course will assist beginners in developing fundamental drawing techniques. It is also well suited to people with some drawing experience who want to re-establish the foundations of their practice. Read more and enrol here.
Written by Marco Corsini