With many galleries, and artists, focusing on figurative painting is very refreshing to see the Gallery Salon Vert not following the trend. The Gallery which is based in Kensington, London, and following its constant dialogue with Eastern European artists has invited the Serbian artist, Nikola Savic, to produce a highly stimulating body of work.
Nikola became interested in abstracting our own reality after moving to London and graduating from St Martin's College of Art and Design a decade ago. The clever use of stainless steel as a background for his works means he momentarily fluctuates between the boundaries of abstract and figurative art. Just for a moment. The viewer is confronted by their own figure while their image is being reflected on the canvas. Move the viewer away and it becomes again a fully abstract painting. It is thought-provoking and allows us to question the obsession in Western Culture in classifying everything: from Abstract to Figurative Art, from Fine Arts to Crafts.
Nikola's works play with the viewer by allowing them to be part of a narrative distant and at the same time proximate. His paintings are no longer the end product of a gesture, but a site of origin. As Barry Schwasbsky, co-editor for International reviews for Artforum, says: "Savic's paintings are virtuoso performances, full of whim and intelligence, at times reminding me of an unlikely synthesis between Joan Miro and Al Held by way of Italian Futurism. He never stops experimenting".
Savic's selection of forms and flat colour in steel recalls the very technical image-making and computer graphics, suggesting influences from LA Neo-Formalists, with their inspiration from Virtual Reality, 3D, and late post-object painting in America (LA group). Savic's work also recalls Superflat Japanese movement characterised by the flat planes of colour, 2-dimensional imagery and artificially generated identities. Stylistically Savic's works find similarity with these movements but diverges from them in his approach to the material and creation of his unique machine-object form, which has the revived energy of a new abstract code of post abstract constructions and recreates the concept of abstract painting. Without the use of shading, these originally flat shapes transcend into three-dimensional biomorphic forms that float, recede and emerge in space, holding the viewer's image equally inside the reflective steel surface. The foregrounding of the painted image reacting with the mirrored quality of the polished steel also adds a performative dimension to these works, as they reflect the surrounding and the viewer. Just as a switch room houses switching mechanisms, Savic's paintings confer interactive/cyber effect between spaces and objects by presenting new visions of the object/space painting relations.
While his steel works are rectilinear, with controlled shapes, Savic's works on paper are more painterly, gestural and fluid. He layers colours thickly onto his brush to the point where each stroke becomes a transition of shades along its trajectory on the surface. Savic follows oblong loops and contours in a variety of brush strokes to create interconnected shapes that seem to jump into being from within the work recalling Cy Twombly's latest swirly paintings. The combinations of flat plastic interventions and bold painterly compositions create a vertigo-inducing space with quasi-organic images, reinforcing that nature, like painting, is itself a language.
Follow Lorenzo Belenguer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/_belenguer