Interview with Petar Mirkovic

2015-BA-Pera-NK-32Hi Petar, your drawings can largely be placed in the context of the aesthetics of Hollywood cinema. Have you ever attempted to imagine and direct scenes yourself and what has the process been like? 

This goes back to my fascination with urban landscape, buildings and other concrete structures and, more generally, to the aesthetics of contemporary urban life. At first I used my own photos as the templates for my drawings. Later I started examining the interrelationships between the reality and fiction, depicting those same scenes. The motion picture industry has had a major impact on the mystification of the so-called non-places. For example, hardly anyone sees any beauty in a concrete parking lot; but it actually becomes this exciting place when filtered through, situating itself in the collective consciousness. I used to draw scenes from mass-produced films that were neither significant nor related to dramaturgy, but resembled more the virtual landscapes. Over time, the process has grown in complexity, and I eventually started to direct my own scenes, taking those largely from some imaginary films. I choose the actors, locations and then imagine myself saying ‘Action!’; and then transfer the scene onto the paper.

The titles of your works are taken from contemporary urban mythology. To what extent do they refer to a ‘social status’ and can we apply such aesthetic to the local context?

My titles are usually abbreviations, like the airport codes. Initially, they contained abbreviations of the city where that specific scene would take place; like a memory. Actually, that was exactly what I wanted to create – a modern black and white record of the early 21st century. Rather than creating a socially engaged art I focus on the urban surroundings, for example, thousands of cars, shiny surfaces, endless asphalt. This scenery is omnipresent and, in fact, differences between cities around the world are hardly noticeable. Another aspect of my titles relates precisely to the urban mythology and the phenomenon of aesthetic mystification. The social status today is linked to pure aesthetics. Aesthetic value serves communication purposes, but also the power and status. For some reason, the black and shiny seem to possess some magical power when considering this phenomenon.

In your work it is difficult to make a distinction between photography and photorealistic drawing. What kind of interaction and coexistence can we talk about here?

At the beginning I had no intention to create photorealistic drawings, it has simply happened throughout the creative process. I explored and experimented with different techniques and ended up where I am now. Then again, I am truly intrigued and fascinated by the space and connections between the film, photography and drawings, three media that are closely intertwined. This inspired me to direct drawings. But the process is constantly changing and I have no idea where it will take me next.

Could we say that this is an attempt to ‘translate’ from one medium into another?

It is perhaps more my testing the connections between the media than the translation as such. Usually, it was a drawing or a comic that served as a template for a film – what we have here is a reverse process, where the film is transformed into a drawing. This way, the drawing contains some key film elements such as the framing, light effects, directing. These improve the quality, suggest that there is some action and, in fact, the anticipation of a new scene. Still, it is only a drawing, charcoal on paper.

MB1, 2015. Charcoal on paper, 37.5 x 67

MB4, 2015. Charcoal on paper, 37.5 x 67

What is the position of drawing in the ‘new media’ era?

Drawing is exactly where it has always been. It is the basis and the shortest path from the thought and idea to the display. Every single creation starts from scratch and this cannot be avoided. A drawing, painting and sculpture all depict the lines, colours and shapes in their purest form. While new media open up new space and opportunities, they depend on rapid and turbulent technological changes. With this in mind, the question is what will happen to new media; the drawing, painting and sculpture will most definitely retain their well-established position in art.

You have participated in numerous international exhibitions and art fairs. How much have these events contributed to your professional development?

Certainly, these help artist to develop and improve. Thinking back, just after the graduation I found it extremely valuable to learn how things work in diverse environments. It is also crucial to understand the dynamics and interconnections between the institutional system, the exhibition space and the art market. There are still many aspects of these interrelationships that I do not fully understand, but the insights I have obtained over the years have definitely helped me to shape my views about the profession.