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MYSTICAL WATERCOLOUR

In one of his lectures he held on February 4, 1957 at the Kolarac National University, Pedja Milosavljevic, the great expert and master of the watercolour technique, talked about “motherly Asia”. The Chinese thought that watercolour is the most valuable and the most difficult artistic technique and they had the utmost respect for it. The most famous Chinese watercolour paper is called CHEN HSIN TENG, which means “a lobby for clearing one’s mind,” and really, I do not know of a more precise definition of this painting technique. The watercolour is a way of clearing both the mind and soul. The journey towards an excellent watercolour painting is always a journey of clarification and Zen purifying from all the excess that might destroy its harmony.

Dusan Djukaric knew how to listen to the call and the messages of a civilization that was faithful, for two thousand years, to the strong ethics and aesthetics, and knows how to transpose some of its essence into his watercolour paintings, whose realisation and ease are truly abashing. Djukaric’s respect for the material, his religious and composed relationship with the precious paper, his concentration and seriousness while working, and his sense of responsibility and tenderness for everything he touches are impressive. This master of the watercolour technique paints with a skill in an absence of skill, like Hasegawa used to say. His paintings, with their extreme stylistic purity, give out a presentiment, an impression, the rapture, and therefore they seem immaterial. They show a way in which the colour is the emanation of the light and the depths in which the music of the art of the Far East had penetrated his Mediterranean sense. In his sunny paintings, Djukaric is a poetic and musical artist with a fine sensibility. He insists on limited colours that are almost monochromatic. He cares for the Beautiful and the Beautiful is, according to Plotinus, “the blooming of the being”. In his watercolour paintings, we find something of the Romantic conception of the Beautiful – something close to the Novalis’ idea that the world needs to be romanticized over and over again.

The fact that a geographical landscape defines permanently a spiritual landscape is confirmed in these refined watercolour paintings. A profound and sincere sympathy has created his big city scenes and Arcadian landscapes pervaded with a warm lyrical and musical spirituality. Devoted to the cult of beauty and to a festive joy of a scene, this artist, a pure lyricist, manages to keep the power of an innocent view in a demonised world. We won’t find in his paintings anything impulsive or dramatic, there is only a reserved lyric as an expression of a calm, intimate temperament. Djukaric’s landscapes are dematerialised by the musical colouristic fluids and the tender blueness. This artist knows how to bring the spirit of finesse and the lyrical detail to a conventional theme. The modulation of the object is all made of tender passages and half-tones. The musical artistic language that counts on the fluidity of the atmosphere and the tremulous volubility of the water makes all the difference in Djukaric’s art.

The wisdom of this artist lies in his ability to express himself in a rudimentary, and yet easy way (I use the word “easy” in its ritual meaning, not meritorious meaning). However, the journey toward these paintings was not at all easy – it’s a journey of clarification and Zen purification from all the excess that might damage its harmony and cohesion. Everything in these paintings has turned golden from the halo of commitment and a mysterious veil in the world of silence, dream and inebriation. The most impressive pieces in Djukaric’s opus are maybe his paintings of Venice, where the artist has showed an exquisitely refined sense for illusions of space and for the idyllic and romantic appeal of this town that, in the words of Goethe, can be compared only to itself. Djukaric is truly a master of presenting the atmosphere of Venice, with its waters sprinkled with gondolas, and the human figures in his paintings are almost silhouette-like. His watercolour paintings that present the colourful beauty of Perast are equally impressive, with their suggestive contrast between the static coast and the dynamic water.

Starting from that “accidental caprice of the unconscious hand”, and guided by the rapture in the liberty of the movement, Dusan Djukaric in his watercolour paintings (that discover in the most beautiful way the romanticist feature of his personality) finish with the fluid emanations that radiate in the direction of our hearts. So if the watercolours are the expression of the intimate conversation between the soul, the whiteness of the paper, and the fluid stains of colour, then the appeal of Djukaric’s paintings is found first in that margin of something fluctuant and barely touched, in the freshness and wholeness of the white. And there was never a great watercolour painter without the touch for the right ratio between the pigment and colour. Djukaric has painted his restraining sensual paintings not only with colour, but also with the spiritualization of the physical whiteness of the watercolour paper. With the gradation of light and tone, he dissolves, peels and gives rhythm to the scenes that intrigue him and thus he opens to the spectators of a sensible spirit a special atmosphere of joyful enthusiasm. A few stains of colour and linear accents are all Djukaric needs to create a lyrical fantasy using the light and the atmosphere. And, like the ancient tractates teach, the light can shine only from the one who has the light in his soul.

There is a profoundly Mediterranean serenity in these watercolours in which we recognize a refined lyrical poet with the ability to enrich his work with a warm lyrical elevation and the Arcadian colouristic eroticism. Djukaric’s invention in watercolour painting is, therefore, substantially poetic and musical. His paintings are festivities of airy movements, they are very complex, balanced, light and alive, interspersed with nerves that show a pure artistic soul. In the poetic, silvery atmosphere and the golden shimmering of these paintings, in the mysterious grey and sonorous blue of the colouristic music, the things seem to lose their objectiveness. This artist with his aesthetically purified watercolour paintings has reached the ancient Chinese wisdom of stopping the dynamics of a quick, gesture of a movement in just the right moment.

Dusan Djukaric is one of those authentic Mediterranean watercolour artists who “carry the Sun in their belly”. Therefore, in his paintings he goes through a “rebirth in light”. Also, his affinity for the watercolours is the matter of a profoundly internal disposition that is fundamentally spiritual, and not just something artificially acquired or learned. Djukaric’s paintings, so open to the spaces of serenity, embody the most votive and the most precious things the artist carries inside. They are intimate and emanate a fine and elegant discretion and fluidity.

In Djukaric’s paintings, we see a successful harmony between the artistic skill and the nature of the artist’s spirituality. Djukaric has learned from the impressionists the importance of light and reflection, and the fluctuation of light. The refined colouristic music of silver and blue scales, pearly tones and autumnal ochre show the spiritual delicacy of this artist who brings the vision of a joyous world, of intimate well-being, warmth and grace. Djukaric succeeds in translate to a spiritually sensitive and discerning audience that musical emotion and the meditation of a landscape that intrigues him. In this way, Djukaric’s close intimacy becomes benevolent and becomes our own.

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