Few people in their lifetime get to know their hometown completely. Especially, when it comes to a city like Belgrade, a historically multifaceted, two-million big metropolis. One would need to live a lifetime in the city while at the same time be filled with an insatiable curiosity to discover every corner.
Experience teaches us that memories of a city are tied to more remarkable locations, distinctive details, frequent visiting and moments that had personal significance to us. However, when we “loudly” evoke memories, we do so for places that represent beauty and harmony and are deeply etched in our minds. Locations to which we return time and time again as to a spring welling up to satisfy our thirst and invigorate our soul, when they are far away from us, attainable only in memories.
Vesna Klačar-Nedimović, a Serbian and Australian artist, translates memories of her native Belgrade into her art, as etchings and digital prints. Her emotional relics are transformed into stylised attractive architecture of historical-artistic pedigree, such as of the famous Belgrade court architect Jovan Ilkić, active in Belgrade and Serbia in the late 19th and early 20th century. This representative selection of architecture chosen from the heart of the city not only reveals her favourite passages, but also a desire for the world to see how beautiful her Belgrade is.
During her pilgrimage to Belgrade in 2010 she personally photographed interesting and richly decorated facades such as the Cathedral Church (Saborna Crkva), the house of merchant Ljubomir Crvenčanin (today Hotel Aleksandar Palas) in King Peter Street (Ulica Kralja Petra), the Belgrade City Library (formerly famous hotel “Serbian Crown”), as well as the endowments of Nikola Spasić in Knez Mihailova street. These buildings are the base of her motives in etchings and digital prints. The artist’s attention is focused on the windows, which have the most luxurious decorations, but are also light sources to the building’s interior, and so in this way she establishes a perceptive artistic dialogue.
Interestingly, Vesna’s approach consists of a consistently implemented art game whereby she overlays each motif with a picturesque network, created with a topographic map of the city from 1967. On the map, the artist view is directed to the dominant promontory with the dense urban structure of the old city centre, at the confluence of Sava and Danube Rivers. This discreetly emphasises that precisely at this place are the chosen buildings. This map symbolically alludes to the passage of time in the long life of the city, and on the psychological self-preservation of the artist in relation to her moment of confrontation with the flood of emotions.
Vesna Klačar-Nedimović’s artworks are created in two ways – the traditional method of etching, in a very effective black-white-grey combination, where the thick white city map dominates, with a shape resembling the rich vegetation of Belgrade, and by modern digital means, where the facades become more apparent and joyful, with delicate but bright, sunny colours. The artist further played with bringing rhythm and dynamics in compositional presentation, depicting the same motif, or alternating two different ones, in the form of horizontal polyptych.
Insight into the careful design and execution of this cycle of works of art by Vesna Klačar-Nedimović suggests the multi-layered role and impact of her memory of the city and its values, where in addition, the artworks act as a homage to recognise the city’s beauty and the artist’s memories.
Vesna Todorović, art critic
In Belgrade, April 2017
About Vesna Todorović
Todorović is a renowned and well respected art critic. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and catalogues.
Todorović graduated art history in 1969 from the University of Belgrade. Since 1990 Todorović has worked as an art critic and since 1995 has been a member of ULUPUDS.
She was awarded a lifetime contribution award by ULUPUDS in 2012.