The Pictorial offering aka Das bildliche Opfer

by Nikola Šuica


Benjamin, in his notes from 1928, offered a draft of an aesthetic theory of melancholy and allegory, illuminating hypocritical representations of history, as well as his contemporary surroundings. The salvaging of allegory – the central theme of this book on tragedy –for the first time provided an insight into long neglected areas of poetic and theological language.[1]

The life of these chromatic implosions, character distortions, and topographic expansions is affected by visual inputs of duration and introductions of the language of inscriptions, fragments and testimonies of knowledge. Visual representation is a synthesis of abstract turns and inclusions, forming, according to Benjamin, simultaneous creation and decay. Things that have just been created – entities, objects, actions and shifts become the background upon which the mark of their deterioration is even more clearly observed. The historical and ceremonial portrait of the past was the artist’s serial operation on the sovereigns, undisputed supreme beings, absolutists and colonizers. The visual fracture is carried out through the characteristics of the head or portrait representations, ever since Western European history bestowed its force and rules to what things should look like and what things should seem like.

The expressed anguish is both triumphant, and demonstrates the achievements of the human race. The introduction of new worlds through maritime discoveries of territories has been evoked in the art work ironically entitled Collumbus Arrives! (2010), a two-meter high intervention in cartographic display of conquest. Columbus’s ships – Santa Maria, Pinta and Ninja appear as darkened and heavingmaritime remains of striking historical signs. Four arduous journeys and sea crossingsare the replacement for the opus of courtly Baroque exposure. If Benjamin’s idea of weight is transferred into the renewal of the “tree of knowledge” and discovering new continents and new possibilities, then the real, as well as the symbolic fruits of labor are provided in the development and persistence of the artist’s research.

Chronicle of an announced fall or the remains of the Feathered Serpent

The battle for use of colored pigments had historically been carried out through the density and emphasized essence in conflicts and the dynamization of images and strokes. This was conducted, as revealed in the works, through the tactility of use of acrylic, graphite and pastel styles of drawing, rubbing, printing, etching and overlapping. The direction of the compositions in horizontal geographical cartographic distance is given as a somewhat different immersion into the portrait, or in the templates of religious confessional vertical dimensions of the altar. Similar to the ritual of confession, the painter finds himself in the domain established since abstract expressionism or the dissolution of sensitive sequencing of commitment inthe privacy of the art studio. This risky trail is visible, and the exhaustion of narrative potential marks the time of role-playing, personifications and invoking in all series that reveal functions, roles and the historical matrix chronicling a former, other and different life.

Drawn, painted and circular shapes are halted in the sensation of a constant flow. The application of color by imprint with fingers or palms of oil paint or oil pastels is also inscribed in the phenomena of previous abstract vibrant chromatic scenes.[2] Evidently, the artist’s standpoint in terms of two-dimensionality is also an effort to understand, emphasize and demonstrate the nature of relationships. Relations are easily determined between tradition, human input and commitment. Objective recognition and memory include mobility that comes to visual arts from literature, but they diverge in areas of politics, economics and current or former technology. Also, such a total, holistic approach to the overall procedure involves movement, as well as a degree of diversity of nations, communities and genders. An interest and emphasis on relationships on the battlefield determinesthe dynamization of the works of art, their path and contradictory paradoxes in the name of concepts of action: identity, humanity, differences, freedom, democracy, ethics, as well as the opposites of life – death and the power of memory. The painter’s procedural aspiration can be discerned in maritime traces in inscriptions and infantile associations with vessels and surfaces. It is established as a comprehensive path of departure, discovery, action, intrigue and upheaval, destruction and return. Theoretical approaches boil down to the inability of making a uniform definition. Through observation, this illusion of a schematic depth of image or deep comprehension of the phenomenon of the vastness of the sea is particular to the medium of modernism. Psychologically, with Goran Jureša, the painted maritime voyage on the surface of the painting is possiblymoving closer to a state of extreme isolation, alienation from social impositions. The incorporationof the areas of process and travel with historical references to maritime discoveries reinforces the clarity of a sensory non-space of the vastness of water.

As this concerns automatism towards the visual and the miraculous morphing of objects and faces, creating a new pictorial ensemble is, on the one hand, an innovation, and on the other, a return to the established representations and figures, which demonstrates the limits of optical protocols – how we see things, and how we project them. Towards the end of the 19th century, Western societies introduced these projections of “the other” and the different, ghostly and mysterious, as a challenge. Increasingly communicative instances circulated this offering through public entertainment representations with visual sensations. The dynamics of the illusion of motion, even before the patenting of the camera bythe Lumière brothers, had been subject to the effects of such stereoscopic projections. The nature of the shift in perception encompassed, through the dual image, its deviations, as well as former concepts, fromthe simple fairytale matrix to the imitation of how Nature really appears to us, and how we move within it, with all the side-effects and optical illusions in scenery.[3] Originally an amazingly powerful historical phenomenon of collusion with the miraculous in the Wolfgangseries or the subsequent paraphrasing of historical portraits of the very pinnacles of hierarchy, such as Louis XIV – the “Sun King” (1638 – 1715), had been identified and located in form on an extremely dark background with figures from earlier historical campaigns, the maturation of adventurers, politicians, military leaders and the genocidal commander Hernán Cortés(1485-1547).

The invasive path of elements from cartographic maps andmeasured and calculated division constitute the bulk of paintings and drawings of a spontaneously horizontal layout.
Royal palaces of Portugal, Spain and France, their monarchical relationships, and Habsburg traces and intertwining, serve as the outcomes ofa ceremonial quest, becoming a visual archive of the totality of the past and memory of the gilding and darkness of Velazquez’s portraits or Rigaud’spresentation of the Sun King.

The construction of the scene of the painting is teeming with elements, canonical influences, traces of hasty designations and inscriptions, transferable records and narrative impositions and modulations. The concept and the plan is the creation of a system of individual stylistic actions(deliberate gestures) as well as randomness (of time and inscribed traces or imprints generated by chance). The structure of the artistic text and record has been challenged. The painting becomes a crossroad of events for the vibrancy of the subject or plot.

How and in which way do we share our understanding of space? How far exactly dothe universes of knowledge and levels of contribution reach? Civilizational shift? These questions correspond to a historical place of innovation exempt of methods of input. They were consistently applied by the American painter Cy Twombly (1925-2011) on the trail of ancient heritage, working alone for decades in Rome. Twombly created his own poetic figures tracing calligraphic inscriptions in the fields of painting, erasure, interruptionsand instigations of introduced, scribbled coincidences of experience that begins to belong accidentally, according to Benjamin, “to each new present.” His disintegrating object non-reality offers emotional intensity and a surface scarring ofthe tissue of the painting as an area of metamorphosis, sometimes associated with mythological, epic or pastoral Mediterranean starting points and foundations of civilization.[4]

Branched according to intensity, the direction of such a descent takes place in paintings or multi-colored drawings, in carefully measured and applied paper traces on collages of Goran Jureša. The artist, through the experience of a shift in knowledge, and an all-present implosion of the painting, does not exhibit rhetorical arbitrariness or hesitation. He becomes a poetic researcher of daring and heinous assumptions of the human adventure.

The gesture in the emerging stroke and traces of drawing or the use of color is an essential spatial moment of the realization of movement. It refers to the property of mobility of plans or the position within the shelter of the surface and drawing, the record and the chromatic and graphic traces in the creation of the composition. The sea surface and thematization of Western conquest is the mode of reflective abstraction and leaving the world that is offered.
The medium, in which the colonial struggle is manifested, above all, the period spanning from Columbus to Hernán Cortés, and the affair of colonial exploitation of Central America and Mexico, seems to neither be a continuous nor a linear flow within a perpetual metamorphosis of historical knowledge.

Visualizing events such as Columbus’s audience with Isabel of Aragon, upon his return from the “new world,” or Cortés’s expeditions, are directed towards the individual act of personal approach to painting unverifiable events. Hence, to draw-inscribe the event in the field of visual composition is never about awakening the past or representing the present. It is possible that an objective presentation of circumstances of the past, and the appalling consequences,is left to the pictorial composition, and the meaning, itself.History becomes a fading allegory. The movement of painting and inscription is a continuous change of direction, and, through the assessment of compositional dynamics, the proof of the lack of predictable transitions

[1] W. Benjamin: Porijeklo njemačke žalobne igre/ The Origin of German Tragic Drama, Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo 1989.

[2]The procedure of manufacture was followed in the observations of the suggestiveness of paintings and drawings in the text of Kosta Bogdanović: 22 July 2003, from the website of G. Jureša.

[3]On these types of layering of public image – Jonathan Crary: Suspensions of Perception – Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture, MIT Press Cambridge Ma 1999.

[4]Kirk Varnedoe, “Inscriptions in Arcadia” in Cy Twombly: A Retrospective – MoMA, New York 1994.       


The case of the Feathered Serpent or Quetzalcoatl, according to Aztec rules of mythical prophecies and earthly suffering, has been accompanied by the collision of two civilizations – the confrontation of the indigenous population with Spanish conquistadores.The words of the oracles and sacrifices of the indigenous population, and the Catholic colonial evocation of a God-given transition into the world of the “other,” caused various forms of barbarism. An essential, ethnographically apparent suspicion of the enemy and beliefs that permeate European heritage regarding various mythological stories since Indo-European times, and the migration of religious symbols and personifications, reaches its maturation in the conquering path of Catholicism. Hence Cortés appears as a substitute for a commando and the precursor of renegade ancient fantasies that reach all the way back to the phenomena of carnal utilization, devouring the ritual of cannibalism, itself, as the ultimate barbarian, as well as Western fantasy. The oral utilization of a dismembered being occurs not only as a legacy of the principles of a matured 16th century, but also as an act, which, according to its assumptions, permeates instinctive ethical evaluation, invoking connection to Hellenic thinkers.

In his famous experiments, Michel de Montaigne handled the topic and the detailed description Of Cannibals as a reflecting speculation about behavior.

For him, ethnographic findings on the hierarchy of services and beliefs of the other, compared to the ancient tales and wisdom of dishonorable relationships, are taking place at the borders of a catalog of depravities, of sorts,of treachery, tyranny and cruelty, with no preference for any one side in the divide, the invaders, or the exotics, as Montaigne sees and names “the savages.”[1]

An inventory of this path, for a painter, is probably directly related to the distortion of goals and objects and can even turn into its opposite. The visual texture of paintings, as well as drawings and collages, is a process of fragmented intent in creation. According to this process, the monumental composition Eleven Black Ships of Hernán Cortés (2009) in a resolutely unique combination of acrylic and oil on canvas, is followed by Cortés as Quetzalcoatl (2011), a collage with the portrait of the conquistador and the mythical expressive traces ofthe Feathered Serpent deity or similar Aztec traces, or with various outcomes of turmoil in drawings, which emphasize the phasesof the conquest of Mexico, circa 1520, and the confrontation with the Aztec ruler Montezuma II.

A blinding, mostly light and white, almost mapped base of the scenes of campaigns and conflicts is a match to earlier series on darkened landscapes. It seems that the spirit of wrath and of genocidal atrocities was succinctly accumulated in the directions of history, overall, and the traces of barbarism. They appear as a rational and emotional assault on the topic and visual material in other works, as well, collages and fragmented applications, with gold and the loot of crops and cocoa beans. The powder that would, with transformation into chocolate, appear as a memorial product of exploitation, is a material substrate of the surge of confrontations, conquest and disgrace.

The range of such aggressions is the demarcation with the monumental theme of territorial devastation and the use of human resources, mirroring the question of who is and to what extent on which side of cannibalism. Between the conquests of territory of North and South America and the adventures that, from Cortés, inspire travelers such as Bartolomé de las Casas or Jean de Léry, begins the study of the validity of humanism of the European imagination regarding everything else and everything different. The aggressive universalism of the modern West is not only an absolutist direction that lasted more than three hundred years, but one of the most important ethical issues of a long process of industrialization and modernization of Europe as well, and of post-industrial achievements. Cortés’stravels in the name of King Charles V merge visual clues, inscriptions on maps, passages through Tlaxacan, confrontations with Cholula warriors, and the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, which transform into integrated toponyms of the author’s individual style.

Disgusted with tribal customs, advocates of the Age of Reason, and on other sub-continents, as well, intended to present displacement and the ideology of conquest as the royal rule. Dark and frightening aspects of aggressive and devastating massacres become not only the destruction of the cults of inscriptions and witchcraft of an ancient civilization, but expressthe irony of Western thought too.The earliest examples of loathing were conducted by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travelsand these points of view are evident in all forms of forced, instigated intolerances and cruelty, from prophecies to the genocidal destruction of tribes and nations.

The consequences and the memory of these acts, only in the last three decades, based on historical data and speculation, are the focus of a great deal of research and horrifying discoveries: victims in the Congo under the Belgian crown, atrocities in India, extinction of North American Indians, the fate of remote Amazonian tribes, the Russian “pogroms” and anti-Semitism, or the Aryan programs of eugenics and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.[2]

Similar toevent processing, such as travelogue notes, a reservoir of chronicles, records, maps and legends on the extermination of the Aztec civilization and the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the doctrine becomes the driving force for instinctive and intuitive construction of a general Western mythologizing of the Third World.Regarding these persistently imposed directions, Goran Jureša is not a follower of a counter-Enlightenment shift into a self-inspired romanticism of sympathy with the oppressed, rather an indirect observer of the art world oftoday and austererules in the current cultural and economic exploitations and political dominations. Ironically devoted to shedding light on his input into the field ofpainting, he gives into the transfer of the ritual of spilled blood from sacrifice to the narrative of the many years of Cortés’s confrontations, trade, fraud and conflict with the people of the Feathered Serpent.

The unknown and missing Heart of Darkness, as in the eponymous African adventure novel by Joseph Conrad, as well as all types of referential post-colonial imprints, were transposed into dramatic gesturesand stunned, dripping traces, as well as explosive densities. As a rule, the works created by pencils and the rubbing of a mass of wax pastels, layering of intimate contact and concentration on the imprinted, scribbled structure, had been derived from an already cultivated reflex of a decade-long research into the structure of a scene, the effects of confrontation of the first, second or third color, all up to the impact of a distinctive remote figurative palimpsest.

Dark thoughts are swarming the mind of Hernán Cortésis the title for both a collage and a developed painting with distinctive red densities, particular for the painter. The collage that preceded it has other origins, an associative assumption: an exact plan, with three modular black outlines, similar to Duchamp’s tailor models of men’s clothes, close to the pattern of conquistadors’armor, the named suitors from The Large Glass. Entities of brash and inflaming misery and devastation, according tothe title of this complex formation, constitute ameta-textual relation to the subconscious and to guilt, towards the stipulations of religious collisions, based on the leading of nations and various forms of insidious solutions. From the multitude of variants and versions of maritime maps and routes – it was mostly paintings that were created – scenes with a horizontal layout.Vertical versions fit in with them, as precursors of action scenes or peculiar anamnesis of portraitist absolutist phantasmagoria from mere reality.

Fair Trade Spectacle

Toponyms of Central America introduced to particular paintings or drawings, such as, for example, Orizaba, render the topography of a place, discovered through conquest of territory, to include various options, available in encyclopedic routes and general information, submerged in implied knowledge and expressed sensuality. Cocoa and the secretion of endorphins or the hormone of happiness, has the most direct impact on the sense of taste and satisfaction.Consciousness seems to survive and is based on searching for carbohydrates and the sugar-coating of experience.

Chemical conversion of consciousness from desire to pleasure achieves the trajectory of invocation and fixes the matrix of human quests and impulses, as well as self-centered celebratory or fantasized convictions:from Columbus, in 1489, and his ceremonial audience, to Cortés in the 1520s.

Paintings with heads and passages of dialogue are part of the shift in the energy measuresof exploitation. The use of natural and human resources and shattered outbursts of visual materials are visible as two-dimensional networks of imprints and humanity – blood and turmoil in a gushing spectacle.

It might be possible to develop some aspects of changethrough a cartographic-biological transmission of visually treated material, transformations froma marine organismof a possible fish into constructed ships, the depths of the energy of water and navigation, as well as a territorial deployment of maps, ships logs and experiences. Such looseness of visual boundaries corresponds exactly to an active reflex and the massiveness ofconsumption, spending and excess. There is a good converse metaphor here, if these types of pictorial adventureswere executed as an inter-pictorialgrip with the basic anthropological findings of the conceivable, measurable and reasonable Western thought.

Bodies and heads of a dynastic processing undergo rapid changes in which one can find, through the author’stypical shifting of identities, sovereigns of the Spanish court and Habsburg lineage, as well as Louis XIII, and then his successor, the Sun King and Maria Theresa(1638 – 1683), all up to the blasphemous visions of personalities resembling giant banquets or boudoirs.Personalitiesmust be indicators of chronotopes, formed focal points of time and space. The origin of these “time-space” people is the subjective realism of a new kind.They become “chronotopes”of a selected historical time and reveal the expressive function of creativity according to genre.Although the term originated in 20st century literary theory,[3] chronotope directions can find their spatial application in modernist mathematics and physics: a metaphor of the chronotope, no matter how formal a category, is a fusion of the artist’s relationship to the times past and historical plots.

[1]„O ljudožderima“/“Of Cannibals”in: M. de Montenj, Ogledi/Michel de Montaigne, Experiments, Ušće, Belgrade 2001.

[2]On the direction of divisions and mocking descriptions and reflections on classifications of human beings through literary imagination in cultural studies – Claude Rawson: God, Gulliver and Genocide, Oxford UP2001.

[3]He was introduced to the philosophy of language by the famous Soviet literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, in 1937.