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On Goran Juresa’s ‘Chocolate Road’

By Jovan Despotovic

 

Painting and ‘painting’ can be realized today by practically limitless means and through numerous kinds of media. ( The difference between painting and ‘painting’ is that the former corresponds to the general contemporary creative image, and the latter more or less just imitates modern art, consequently raising questions about its value ). At the same time, the field from which it can cull its topics is as limitless as it is vast, and anything that could be its topic or content finds its expression in plastic language on the flatness of the canvas, or on the surface of the paper, in the case of drawings or collages. In this current linguistic whirlwind of endless authorial poetics it is clear that each artist builds his own individual position with which he defines those imaginary or real, intellectual or irrational, psychological or visionary phenomena which interest him and which he needs to transfer into the visual field of his work. This need of the artist is the decisive element that enables the work of art to be created, and enables the artist to communicate to the spectator the feeling with which he is preoccupied, to announce his inner need to narrate, in this case through visual works, a historical, current, invented, or real subject.

In the case of Goran Juresa’s painting, or more precisely in the case of his recent cycle ‘The Chocolate Road’ this is entirely what is at stake. Writings about his work at the beginning of the last decade located the point of departure of his colourful and expressive paintings in the objective world – not the world to which we are accustomed, recognizable by its forms and ways of use, but a world that has suffered certain changes which have disrupted its recognizable form and made it dysfunctional.

That is the plastic foundation on which Juresa continues to work, and the current cycle of paintings ( not excluding his drawings and collages that form a pendant to his painted works ) aims to defunctionalize, through the means of colour and its forms, form, reducing it to mere elementary visual data that combine to influence the perception of a spectator. This ‘game’ forces the spectator to participate in the act of reconstructing content, or building a narrative to which the author only alluded with the occasional word or sentence included on the surface of the canvas thus guiding the participant through the necessary path of realization and experience.

Chocolate, like everything, has its own history. It has become a global phenomenon, and is produced and consumed in enormous quantities, but was, nevertheless, discovered only relatively recently, in the era of the conquest of Central America, when besides gold, the conquistadors brought back to their emperors in Europe some unknown things of whose value and use they were, at first, entirely unaware. This was also the case with cacao which arrived with them in the form of seeds of this tree as a new, exotic, edible and nutritious food, which would, in future, be used to make what we today consider the most important and ubiquitous sweet – chocolate. In the native language of Mexican Aztecs ( who first taught Hernándo Cortés and his conquistadors how to use it ) xocolatlmeant a drink of divine origin made of cacao. In 1525, Cortés brought a new seed that had been kept and grown in secret in monasteries to the Spanish court of the emperor and King Carlos I. More than a century later, the first chocolate shop was opened in London.

Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV made chocolate consumption fashionable in European courts. Thus it was that chocolate spread throughout Europe over the course of the next two centuries, but it was not until 1875 that the most popular chocolate today, milk chocolate Nestle , was created in Switzerland.

These are just a few points on the historical map of the chocolate road. Goran Juresa mapped the itinerary of the sweet in his cycle ‘ The Chocolate Road’,  using a specific visual language that both reveals and conceals formal-plastic meanings. The latter, while being emphasized, are also concealed through the act of pictorial imagination and praxis of production of artistic objects. Juresa has also invented a pictorial procedure that is adequate, specific and authorial, painting the history of chocolate in a fragmentary style through the use of symbols, citations of famous paintings from the history of artistic production, and through his inclusions of text on the canvas. He also draws on expressive colouring, making use of vivid red fields. His compositions are, moreover, liberated from academic canons, featuring drawings of naval maps, allusions to battles of conquest, and to the portraits of emperors and their ( even more ) influential wives. A closer look at Goran Juresa’s paintings suggests that in order for them to achieve their own convincing and sustainable optical construction, they had to first undergo a process of destruction ( or, better, of self-destruction ) of initial visual notions ( based on historical models ) in the linguistic domain of deconstruction – a kind of disassembling (in the way that Derrida established this model of interpretation ).

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