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Viktor Mitic: Going Around And Coming Around
by Gary Michael Dault


Abstract #343

 

If you look deeply enough into Viktor Mitic�s hectic new paintings, which seem always to be in the throes of being born from the canvases upon which he builds them, you will perhaps be able to see all the way back through time to the days of a rigorous, professional art training he once received in his native Serbia.

Regardless of how tumultuous his paintings now appear to be�and they appear to be very tumultuous indeed�there is, nevertheless, always a sense of order at their core, an innate, residual feeling for balance, proportion, a morphological tact that always provides (whatever pictorial madness seems to be afoot) for the up-ness and down-ness of things, for the push-pull of spaces located both near to the painting�s surface and deep within it, for the enactments of narrative, for the right rhythms that lets you feel the disposition of incidents on a plane and the spatial appropriateness of the varieties of their playing-out.

All this, I would venture, is the fruit of the impress of the academy, the whisperings of a memory that prompts for the right way to do things. And all this, Viktor Mitic is in the throes of forgetting.

And so I would say that the paintings you see being born before you are, in a sense, being reborn before you. And that�s what I like most about Mitic�s work: his acceptance, on the one hand (what choice is there?) of the tropes of academicism (horizon lines, vertical stripes as trees, as fences, as backgrounds, the roundness of suns and planets and other highly charged ciphers, the subliminal face, the floating moon, the phallus in the underbrush) and, on the other hand, his intense struggle to jettison everything he has learned and�painting in the open sun in the atrium behind his framing shop on Queen Street in Toronto�painting himself into paroxysms of strained and willful invention.

I like Mitic at his most convulsive. I like the picture (I now have to describe it because he doesn�t title his paintings) in which a chord of verticals at the far left (they look like stalks of bamboo) are pretty much the only image there is to hold on to (except for a few buoyant, rising-bubble circles) while the rest of the painting (nets of pink) is pushed to the brink of dissolution. And I like the one where biomorphic shapes in cream, surrounded by a curious, putty-coloured grey, strive up from the bottom of the painting to confront an awaiting gathering of green and of turquoise shapes which themselves float (though further back) against a deep and distant ground. These paintings, for all of Mitic�s procedural inventions, are still landscapes�and, I would venture, a genuine contribution to the simultaneous retention of and extension of the landscape mode in painting.

And I what to add a word at this point about Mitic�s colour. Mostly, it s a deliberately offhand colour, much given to hospital-corridor greens and front-porch greys, subway-station creams, medicinal violets and bedroomy pinks and flesh-tones. It possesses a new-world beauty, the beauty of chromatic everyday-ness which, when taken from the larger banalities of its usual existence, shines on Mitic�s canvases with a brand new privileging.

And there�s that big painting I want to say something about�the huge dun-coloured horizontal with the blue airborne events animating its upper half. When I first saw this prodigious painting, I thought there wasn�t enough going on in it�that its painterly incidents were too meager to sustain the space on which they were positioned. I now think, by contrast, that the picture is heavily loaded. It�s amusing to realize that, however pigment-embroiled its techniques and procedures (dripping, flinging, masking-out), the painting remains a landscape�a fresh and compelling one, its lower half given over to �vegetative� preoccupations on Mitic�s part (a dripping of �mountains� or of �forest�), with its upper half (which curls down to the bottom at the right) open to the free movement of those heaving, billowing, leaping pale bluish objects outlined in white or darker blue�heaving themselves through Mitic�s painted matrix like dolphins in the sea.

Gary Michael Dault
Toronto, June 10, 2007.

 


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