On Goran Juresa’s ‘Chocolate Road’

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In order to better illustrate this multiphase process , a commentary of a few of his works is indispensable. ( Auto )- destruction of the coloured field in Jureša’s paintings has been taking place for years, owing, in large part, as previously mentioned, to their defunctionalized form. The author found this form by reducing forms to the threshold of recognizability (‘Maria Theresa Surrounded by Midgets Drinking Hot Chocolate’, 2010) to a point when we can barely make out the famous Velásquez’s portrait with conspicuous baroque hairstyle transposed into a hat. In that way, the visual data, like the black hat with a red feather, gives the painting its complete meaning and removes any doubt on the part of the spectator about the sort of visual spectacle he is facing. Upon closer observation, the remaining elements of the narrative ( mentioned in the title ) can also be recognized as a formal depiction sufficient for obtaining the confirmation of the authenticity. In other words, through the destruction of the visual status of the historical composition, and by including content that interests him, Juresa constructs a composition with all of its necessary meanings which seem, at first, ‘unfinished’, but nevertheless constitute a complete work of art. We can see a similar procedure in Juresa’s paintings ‘Maria Theresa’ from 2011 and ‘Louis XIV’ from 2010 and 2011 where basic Baroque forms are transformed into semi-abstract coloured blotches scattered on the surface of the canvas. To this author, painting through ‘blotches’ amounts to something like the colouring of his own creative ideas. The same principles of ( auto ) destruction were the basis for the paintings-maps of the chocolate road, or more precisely, the maps of the travels of conquistadors who discovered chocolate and brought it back to Europe. The first technique Juresa applied in the further painting procedure was  to mark on these paintings ( such as ‘Mapa mundi‘ or ‘The Paths of Sweetnes’ both from 2011 ) the imaginary movements around the coasts of Central America, more precisely the Yukatán peninsula, and to create the optical (re)construction of sea routes and ports of Cortés ‘s ships.

On the more general map ( of the then known world ), the artist used formless spots in shades of blue to ‘copy’ the map which the navigators drew sailing the oceans and along unknown lands. Although the construction of these paintings is only loosely traced, or only suggested, they still manage to look very convincing in the domain of pure imagery, allowing them to achieve their complete plastic unity. At the same time, they look like finished works, but also like ‘models’ for free interpretations by spectators, for the discovery of their semantics and how to interpret the narrative.

The canvases which are especially interesting are the ones on which Jureša narrates the imaginary ( that is, nevertheless, based in facts ) history of Hernándo Cortés: ‘Eleven Black Ships of Hernándo Cortés’ ( 2010 ), ‘Quetzalcoatl – Mayan Deity’ ( 2009 ) and ‘Hernándo Cortés versus Quetzalcoatl‘ ( 2009 ). The Aztecs believed him to be Quetzalcoatl ( ‘feathered serpent’ from which the peoples of that part of America were thought to originate ) and they, accordingly, treated him as a deity. In the playful, dynamic blotches on these paintings in which the colour red ( the colour of blood ) is predominant ‘ the battle’ is visible, not only Cortés’s battle to conquer new Hispano-American territories, but also the inner tensions that created his dilemma between myth and reality, between his goals and the possibility to achieve them. This small cycle dedicated to the conquistador Hernándo Cortés is among Goran Juresa’s greatest pictorial achievements according to which his whole pictorial creation can be interpreted and assessed. The strength of the coloured blotches on Juresa’s canvases is both pictorially and plastically so expressive that it, in fact, also sustains the structure of the sights on the canvases. They seem, on a first viewing, abstract, but, as has already been indicated, they remain on the borders of deconstructed, extremely expressive figuration which is, in fact, unimportant for the pictorial narrative to which Juresa is alluding.

With few basic colours, formlessly applied to the canvas, either directly by hands and fingers, or from colour sticks, the artist has created such artworks which are, one the one hand, enigmatic, but, with the help of the captions and texts he has included in them, the spectator is able to unmistakably recognize the story that interests the author in this cycle of paintings.Imagine a painting from the period of abstract expressionism ( for example the colouristic canvases of Helen Frankenthaler ) that could ‘cover’ an emblematic Baroque painting (Rubens’s parade portraits ) and Goran Juresa’s pictorial language becomes decipherable. When the goal of his pictorial language has been revealed, it leads us to further questions and guessing about the meaning of today’s art, deprived both of its own style, as well as its own mainstream, or framework around which authorial creations converge, as was the case in the history of art, especially in thetwentieth century. Today it is a vast field of authorial individualities to which each artist contributes with his own linguistic understanding. All these understandings are legitimate, except that some are, in the creative sense, more convincing, explicit, articulated and consistent than others. Using these measures, it is possible, hypothetically speaking, to construct a hierarchy out of them. In that hypothetical, vertical hierarchy of recent pictorial phenomena, the art of Goran Juresa is among the most interesting and pictorially most defined.

His cycle of paintings ‘The Chocolate Road’ on view at this exhibition is certainly a considerable contribution to the effort to discover the meaning and to build understanding of the sense of the visual arts of our time.


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