Exhibition Text

Slobodan Živić is best known for working with contemporary and technological materials and methods. In his new solo exhibition, however, he goes back to his roots to work with simpler means, and with drawing in focus. For Živić, drawing became a way of processing his experiences during the turbulent years of growing up. Over time, drawing developed into rituals in everyday life, and thus gained a symbolic value beyond the original therapeutic purpose. Expressing oneself creatively in this way became a way of developing as a person and thus became a rite of passage to adulthood. With a present global crisis, which has once again created a turbulent existence, Živić has in his new exhibition turned to his vulnerable safe haven and recreated the rituals, but in a new version. Inspired by his childhood in the former Yugoslavia, Živić has used means such as ballpoint pens, lighters, and firecrackers. Something that made a strong impression on him was how messages were often burned along roofs, under stairs, and over corners and edges, both inside and outside buildings. A way that he experienced as unique to this time and place. In his new works, Živić lets these burn marks, together with the drawings, spread over the edges of the canvas, thus transforming the two-dimensional surfaces into three-dimensional sculptures. In the abstract expression, however, he transforms the messages on the walls and ceilings into the child's wordless and associative expression.

"Rite of Passage" is Slobodan Živić's third solo exhibition.

/ StudyForArtPlatform

Interview by Nicolina Eklund
16.10.20

(NE) So, what are we looking at here, this Rite of Passage?

(SZ) Basically a transmission. Iʼm leaving the past behind me and Iʼm moving into something new, and not just me, I feel it as something collective, something weʼre all going through. Thereʼs a risk that this is all a shock psychosis, a result of the pandemic and in that case this is my accounting of it. I think it will be fun for the viewer to see either way.

(NE) Youʼve reached an important breakthrough, perhaps a turning point in your career, what is that about?

(SZ) Well, I quit the lease for my studio as one of other cut-downs I was doing to stop the financial bleeding. At the time it was hard to define how I actually felt about it, but this global change and new sort of existence that I thought would be a pause in my practice, led to a sort of new start. Some friends of mine lend me a space to work in, but nothing big and not a place where I could continue working in large scale and all messy, like I normally do, so I had to minimise, downsize. I had no expectations whatsoever and this made somehow every little drawing I did, every little event I manage to pull through, into something extremely precious. For example, if I did a gig in March or April this year where 30 people attended, it felt like it would be 300. Every single move became important.

(NE) In the sneak preview I got of the show I saw that youʼve dropped the grid and the sort of chainlike attributes that Iʼm used to seeing your works being held back by or constricted by. I think this is saying something about a new freedom in your artistry...

(SZ) I havenʼt considered that before, but maybe youʼre right! Iʼve been feeling a bit destructive and cornered. With the strapping and pressing things together I definitely wanted to tell something. It felt good to use my hands that way, as a performative act leading to physical works. Now, on the other hand, Iʼve never felt better and Iʼve never been this open in mind and in my relations before. As the whole world is closing the shop Iʼm opening up mine, so to say. My self-image has changed. I used to be pretty germaphobic, now Iʼm not. I used to avoid canvases, now I paint them.

(NE) As the world is burning, youʼre rising from the ashes and the burn marks in your paintings like a reborn Phoenix.

(SZ) I wouldnʼt really say that, but the circumstances made me go down in format and simplify my methods. When I went out to buy the smallest canvases I could find I already knew I would burn them. But on a deeper level, yeah, ashes, the purest thing there is... I started out in my parents basement as a little kid with paper and pen and thatʼs what Iʼm working with now. Even the motives I draw are the same as back then, it came naturally, from muscle memory. Iʼve done full circle and Iʼve come back to my truest form perhaps. When I started drawing with that ballpoint I just felt like - yes, Iʼm home now!

(NE) And how do the burn marks fit into these childhood memories?

(SZ) Every summer when school ended my parents used to bring me to Serbia and we stayed there until it was time to go back to Norrköping and back to school. I was always amazed by the graffiti in Serbia, mostly made with just simple lighters and whatever pens they could find. Spray cans were too expensive and the caps where fucked and didnʼt work right so they used the flame. The scribbles where underneath staircases, tables, in the ceilings of toilets - everywhere, and itʼs just such a nice aesthetics that fits so well with my state right now. Back to the roots.

(NE) In this roundtrip to the future and back, what did you learn?

(SZ) That the bigger necessarily doesnʼt have to mean better, micro can be just as persuasive and forceful. And when you go bigger the flaws also seem larger... I used to think that the larger it was, the more information you charged the works with, the more colours, the more tricks you used, would somehow safeguard the works from being a fiasco, that there would always be something in it for each and everyone in the mass to like. Iʼm happy to have found the courage to be small now and Iʼm believing in it even more when I feel a bit scared. If youʼre going to be small you have to be courageous.

(NE) The title promises a series, what more do we have to look forward to?

(SZ) There is more to come! This expressions, this medium and this technique is something I want to continue researching. Itʼs incredibly interesting to work with this dialed down, analogue method. In which direction itʼll go I guess Iʼll find out after this show.

(NE) What do you hope the viewers will bring home from the show, what is the most important thing for them to see?

(SZ) I hope they see my works as objects, to be looked at from all angles. That they discover that the edges have been breached and that Iʼm moving past canvases and terms like graffiti. I hope they find something they havenʼt seen yet. Most of all I hope they see the openness and honesty in these works, and that they realise that they are looking straight into my soul.

Works

RS1

RS1
2020. 30cm x 40 cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas.

RS11

RS11
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas.

RS12

RS12
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas.

RS16

RS16
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas.

RS4

RS4
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS8

RS8
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS20

RS20
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS18

RS18
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS5

RS5
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS15

RS15
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS9

RS9
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS10

RS10
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS17

RS17
2020. 60cm x 80cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS6

RS6
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS7

RS7
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

RS19

RS19
2020. 30cm x 40cm. Ball point pens, lighters,
and firecrackers, on canvas

Opening 1.10.20

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Slobodan Živić’

Slobodan Živić’s longstanding work in digital imagery is an engagement in which he continually questions the normative definitions of visual communication and diverse digital aesthetics. He creates visual worlds often rooted in popular culture through multi diverse materials. "The aesthetics of my works are conceived in the digital world to later be translated into physical form. The computer with its visual software programs is, and always has been, my first choice of tool. The explanation and reasons for that, are my own control idiosyncrasies inflicting the relationship I hold within the technology. Digitally I'm infinitely free to erase and reshape. Also, the possibilities that these programs expand beyond my own and any other medium or crafts limitations."

Slobodan Živić lives and works in Stockholm. “Rite of Passage (Ritual Series)” is his third solo exhibition.

Previous Exhibitions:

Blind Faith (2020)
Group show, Årstaberg, Stockholm

Absolute Affirmation (2019)
Group show curated by C-print, Gelb Ateljéer, Solna, Sweden

Enter a surface (2019)
Duo Show with Alexandra Karpilovski, Regeringsgatan 77, Stockholm (An abandoned storefront)

Interrupted Moments Memory Bank Rabbit Hole (2017)
Solo Show, Skomakeriet, Stockholm

Birger Jarl Rmx (2017)
Group show curated by Ilja Karilampi and Martin Kozlowski

So long st salong (2017)
Group show curated by Alexandra Karpilovski and Christian Cherry Ling

i-CRACKED (2016)
Riche, Stockholm Public Audio Image (2016) Hangmen Project

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