After a short holiday break we are back! Today we are presenting work of Milica Stefanovic. And as before this short piece, an introduction to her work, will initiate a series of this week’s posts: first an interview, then an opportunity to showcase one project and finally a selection of one photo picked from the images published during the whole week, which will be later printed on a t-shirt.
Milica Stefanovic is a painter and photographer from Belgrade, Serbia. She calls herself mainly a painter, however I’ve found her work strangely attractive and it is possible the reason is her standing slightly outside of the photographic medium.
What she creates with her camera is very personal and seems quite vulnerable but at the same time slightly distanced and analytical. It’s very far from being a journal. She poses a rare ability to keep her emotions in check when others would get too romantic or pictorial. Through the use of direct harsh flash she flattens the objects in her compositions into two dimensional patches of colours, where every detail is visible in a sort of mosaic. Underneath all of that lurks a search for the human spirit, laying under the layers of everyday banality, familiar objects, scenes torn out of darkness, one can feel a certain taste of a mystical experience.
As she describes it herself she is looking for a special tension in her work, “Zent od propasti sveta” (fear of the end of days).
”The idea of tension came from what interests me in general. I have always been drawn to pieces that involve not only the national identity and collective memory, but also symbolism, theology and mysticism. Something that my partner, who also happens to be an artist, and I tend to describe as “Zent od propasti sveta” (fear of the end of days). As I was getting aware of this influence, I was getting more and more familiar with the feeling I want to create.”
You can sense this tension in this image of the dog standing by the window. We can’t see what made him so alert, I guess that is the space for you to fill yourself. The striped curtains add a touch of psychodelia to the image. The pile of objects on the left only makes one more edgy.
Even in her landscape work Milica manages to convey a sense of uneasiness, some primal extensional tension and longing. Just look at this image of a lake seen through an opening created by the foliage.
Blue waters and sky and sandy beach on the other side create almost like a dream paradise blocked by the dark tree branches and shadows creeping on the ground.
Similarly in this image, a very film like peaceful scene where everything seems to be so still we see those great dark cypress trees, hovering behind the couple on the shore, like two explosions of suppressed frustration.
Nature seems to be a constant exploration subject for Milica’s work – she easily goes from distant views to close ups without losing the consistency in the character of her imagery.
Just like in the following picture of yellow flowers set against the dark backdrop of dense trees. The harsh flash flattens the image to only two layers, reminiscent of the Japanese woodblock print masters such as Hokusai, at the same time rendering every detail with the obsessive precision.
I really enjoy her close ups. It’s difficult not to admire her great eye for details and the ability to create complex symbolic meanings based on the isolated objects.
The armchair wrapped in foil, where she used very tight framing, giving you no breathing space, just like wrapping you tightly as well. The classical style of this furniture piece obviously goes very well with the choice of black and white, the whole image seems to be a statement on historical art – the wrap seems to be an attempt to put things away and move on. An empty chair itself in classical painting often stood for a dead person, but also for a choice. She seems to be bravely departing from long gone old masters, both in painting and photography, the frantic way the foil has been messed up bears a heavy emotional charge.
I can’t stop looking at this image. It is consistently common theme in Milica’s photography to “document” different “display spaces” – in the image above a shelf. A bit of harmless voyeurism, or is it, when we’re dealing with other people’s lives and stories put together by themselves, expressed by the items they decided to put for the “public viewing”. Memorable moments captured in photographs together with favourite objects often create a bizarre mixture. Not everyone can tell a story, even when they really try.
There are also those very tangible, warm if dark, moments in her work, moments that seem to be a shared common experience in our lives, simple scenes of everyday life she manages to turn into something rather iconic. The detail of the thermometer is simply stunning.
I hope you enjoyed her work as much as I did. In my eyes she is definitely someone to follow closely.
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