World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 51 - Dunja Nedeljkovic
Dunja Nedeljkovic comes from Novi Sad originally. The Petrovaradin fortress on the right bank of the Danube is her big inspiration. It is robust and a beautiful landscape surrounds it. The Academy of Art is located there. And there are artists studios. One of the first studios was her grandfather’s. Het father has a studio and her mother as well.
As a child, she visited the studios and played in the area. When she was four years old she planted, with her grandfather, Miodrag Misha Nedeljkovic, a small walnut tree between the studio 27 and 28. From her mother’s studio the tree was to be seen. Slowly the tree was growing. In the year 2000 there appeared an eye on the tree. That eye was on the spot where the city gardeners had sawed off a branch. The eye inspired Dunja. In the Amsterdam MLB gallery I see the eye on many of her works. It is on the trunks of trees. Often birches, a curious eye that looks into the world. It seems like a dream world.
Residents of the Landscape
Dunja, who lives quite some time in northern Italy now: ‘Since 2001 the landscape was my subject. It can be traced back to a latent human figure modeled in trees. I was looking for an original and personal tone of voice that could be easily recognized. I chose to capture my impressions of social relations in landscapes. To incorporate the human figure in order to reach greater depths. It is an allegory in which man and nature stand for the connection between the spiritual and the secular.’ She gave her works the title “Tales of the Landscape”.
She recently presented her figures, together with the figures of her friend Gabriela Hajzler, on the Amsterdam exhibition in the MLB Gallery as “Dwellers”, residents. In the case of Gabriela residents of the city, in Dunja’s case residents of the landscape. She showed drawings / prints of two periods: 2004 and 2015. Dunja: ‘My stories are painted or engraved epistles. You see at the same time the real and the imaginary world.’
She makes prints and drawings. For the drawings cut outs from passe partouts are used: the center part. On these passe partouts she uses the technique of contracollage. It consists of ripping off parts of the coloured surface paper to reveal the white paper below, thus rendering things such as clouds , the moon etc. Ink, acrylic, tempera or pastel are applied to complete the presentation.
The etchings, on the other hand, are coloured, using the technique of lino-cut. Dunja: ‘My particular way of doing lino-cut is that of cutting various patches of linoleum to colour various parts of the print. The edges of the pieces are cut at 45 degrees, and this allows me to use more than one colour at the same time, without the colours running into each other and smudging. The pieces of linoleum are smeared with coloured ink and then placed on damp printing paper, all fitting next to one another as in a jigsaw puzzle. Then everything is run under the printing press, which transfers the colours firmly onto the paper. And it is only at this point, with the colours already in place, that I run the paper through the printing press with the zink plate (usually with black ink) that holds the actual etching, obtained with the traditional method).’
When she mentioned her plan for this method for the first time to the Assistent at the Academy, he looked surprised. Dunja: ‘That will be difficult’, he said. But when he saw the result he was elated. He asked for a few works as a gift. Manual printing is an area of innovation par excellence, says Dunja. ‘Regularly I discover something new. Previously much less color was used in prints. In my work I use a lot of color.’
In recent years her works have been inspired by the Bible. For example in the work Giovanni 20:22 (John 20:22), which shows the Holy Spirit as a white bird surrounded by white clouds in a forest where trees are staring at us. Or Genesis 1:31 in which God looks to the world just after he created it, or Genesis 3:8-11, in which Adam and Eve look at the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Or Genesis 9:13, where God confirms his relationship with humanity through a rainbow. On her laptop she also shows the work of her father, Slobodan Bata Nedeljkovic, http://slobodanbatanedeljkovic.com/ . You can see the biblical element there as well.
The work of Dunja Nedeljkovic has been exhibited in quite a few places. Some 20 personal exhibitions in Serbia, Italy and the Netherlands, and about as many group exhibitions. In 2005 her work was to be seen at the Graphic Triennial in Tokyo. Two of her works were purchased by the National Museum of Tokyo.
She tells a story about her mother, also an artist. On the grounds of the Petrovaradian Fortress she built a Coliseum of newspapers (‘Koloseum’). She shows a picture of it during a Museum Night on her laptop. Dunja: ‘Unsold newspapers were brought with trucks. No less than five tons of non-sold newspapers, most Serbian, some Hungarian and even some Russian (there is also a Rusian speaking minority in the city). After a while the forces of nature began to work. The paper stairs of the Koloseum were shrinking. Dunja: ‘It started with the Hungarian newspapers’.