Announcement of the Jury of the First Biennale of Fantasy Art in Serbia
Large review exhibitions and biennials of fantastic art have not been held in the world since the last century, when there were several of them in Italy, Germany and other areas in the 1970s and 1980s. With the canceling of the magazine “Art Visionary”, fantastic art has lost its extraordinary professional support, which is compensated by specialized museum institutions.
The Biennale held in Belgrade is the first of its kind in Serbia and the region, and now such exhibitions of high art are becoming rare even on the world stage. In that sense, the Biennale fully fulfills its role of arguably raising the art culture of the magical and oneiric type, which is helped by the upcoming growth of the Modern Gallery Valjevo into the Museum of Fantasy Art, one of the few in the world.
According to the propositions without the participation of drawings, comics, illustrations, digital art, graphics and photography (sculpture of a fantastic kind almost does not exist, not only in our country), 578 works arrived at the Biennale competition, of which 525 met the conditions of the competition. Two hundred and sixty-nine artists applied and the Jury selected slightly less than 30 works exclusively in painting techniques for the needs of the exhibition, catalog and awards. The jury met on August 6, 2021 in Belgrade. Without any pressure, influence and interference from the organizers of the exhibition, the Jury decided independently and unanimously in a working atmosphere without tension. There were three rounds of voting for the works, in the first the selection was reduced from 525 to 66, in the second to 28 and in the third the selection was confirmed (a dozen prominent painters were invited to participate outside the selection).
In the aesthetic, creative and generational sense, many poetics have emerged – from big names and older to young and unknown artists, in the key of strict, classical figuration, those influenced by illustration, all the way to declination in the form of expressionism, abstraction, metaphysics, neo-symbolism and of poetic realism. The position of the Jury was to respect the different ranges of unusual art, but to exclude all works with a touch of naive art, amateurism, arbitrariness and technical unskillfulness. The attitude towards hard realism and hyperrealism was similar – although most authors of such works are very well-known and quality artists, the subject is missed, it is not enough just to paint a good work, but it must have a distinct irrational dimension, which goes beyond mere everyday reality. Some artists did not seem to understand the title of the Biennale, so they sent watercolors of Belgrade’s vedutas to the competition. The Jury tried to choose artistically cultivated forms of painting imagination, although art-brut works did not arrive at the competition. Pure art, painterly knowledge and sensibility above all were sought as much as possible in the paintings of the fantastic type. The Biennale is limited to about 35 artists with one exhibited work each, which mostly conditioned this selection.
In Belgrade August 6, 2021.
Katarina Zarić, Ph.D. Professor at the University of Arts – president of the jury
Dejan Đorić, art critic – member of the jury
Vojislav Jovanović, director of the Modern Gallery Valjevo – member of the jury