četvrtak, 15. studenoga 2007.


This interview is made on November, 02, 2007, in a Denis Kraskovic's appartement on the occasion of his first retrospective exhibition to be presented in the Ruzic Gallery on the premisses of the town fortress of Slavonski Brod in December 2007.The interview is
performed by Danko Friscic, a painter, long time his collegue and friend.

FRISCIC: I would like you to tell me something about your latest work, GOULASH, here in front of us, a work about witch you said is not fully explainable.

KRASKOVIC: This work contains a certain absurdity being crazzy in itself, but also in illustrating a crazzy situation: a mass of soldiers shooting at each other.A chaotic work, served as one on a single antique plate.
On the first sight, this work looks like a play or a joke.But there is a hidden theme there in: the war. The conflict among the people seems to be constant; it's manifested in the soldiers, but, in fact, it generates in the salons were the food is served on such antique plates.
Interesting is that I'll exhibit this work in once largest military fortification of the baroque-time Europe, Slavonski Brod, in the place called The Ruzic Gallery.

FRISCIC: What's intriguing me is that the contemporary wars involve mainly the civilians, but on this plate there is no civilian.On your plate is a symbol of a classic war image, while a war today is a totally different thing. Is there any reason why on your plate are only the soldiers?

KRASKOVIC: Well, the soldiers themselves have not much importance to me – the plate is crucial. And my goal with this work is to show the fact that every morning we all drink our coffee, live more -or- less confortablly our civic lives and, in the same time, the real bloody wars unfold, not anymore manifested as combats and heroic battles in the field, but wars waged by the institutions of power really grinding the people and transforming them into the beasts. In a present time and with all the technology and values the people created, I think that's absurd. So my work is absurd, too, and I believe it to be a coppy of a today's society. Nowadays, the war is served to us like a most normal thing and we are forced to swallow.

F.: This plate is round and this reminds me on a story from a movie „ The Third Man“.

K.: I like this movie.I dedicated to it a whole exhibition.

F.: In one moment, the two old friends Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles met after having not see each other for a long time. They had a very interesting conversation about their points of view in a big circle. Orson Welles justified his immoral blackmarket - theses telling that Swiss had have 300 years of peace and what did they invent? –A cuckoo-clock! On the other side, in Italy, in the time of Renaissance, a time of a lot of local wars and hatred, there were Michelangelo, Leonardo and the others. And the question of the justification of the war came

K.: It seems to me very indicative in this movie that ,on the first sight, the war was over but, in fact, it still went on.In a post-war Vienna four armies fought each other to achieve supremacy by peace-time means. The decisions about Vienna were made in Washington, London, Moskva....and a war-profiteer in this movie never questioned the resourcefulness as a basis of human survival.The roots of this problem lay much deeper: in a common consciousness and the question that people should ask themselves every day is: Is the goal of your life to grab for yourself and your family or shall you live, work and care for a welfare of society?

F.: What do you think, how can we communicate with someone, how can we open up our mind using no symbol, no sign, no convention or any sybolistic wasteland? All the world is full with communications, but none of them is a real communication.

K.: Art transforms itself today into the signs and rarely is multilayered. We all are aware of the consumistical society we are living in, but that's the way the human perceive someone's reality much easier.I am trying to make my work different, no matter how much it seems unlikely on the first sight. For instance a sculpture „THE BED“. I am trying to open myself up aswell as my existance inside the world.

F.: Seems to me that you are keeping up well your ballance among the symbols and between the intimism and yourself.Looking at your work as a whole, at what you have done in different media, it occurs to me that you're trying to find the way to communications of higher quality.You're searching a way to a global message and, equally eager, you're looking for little, intimistic relations. The balance, seems, is what you are so skillfully searching and finding, aswell.

K.: Well, my intention is to make an universal story. When I'm doing my work, for me this is a way to make peace with the world and my surrounding in such a way that the same surrounding gets something back from me. And my goal is also, if the people agree to accept my solution, if they wish to understand my work, to let them draw out something positif, something noble.

F.: Nowadays, everybody has a TV set in his room and everybody thinks that by having in their hand a remote control they have a maximal freedom. But, how can you have a high-quality communication, when people have in their hands all the media possibilities? How is possible to send them a message?Under such circumstances, is it posssible to transmit
a good-quality message?

K.: Sure! But difficult. What is needed is a good will, experience, some effort from the both sides........

F.: God's help??

K.:Of course, God's help, too.Better to say: a child's soul and a ripe mind...We ought to be heavy and light in the same time.

F.: Your painting „ ALLAH AKHBAR“ is refering to the actual everyday situations, although for me it is also poetically nice. In this painting, the mountain is green – is there any symbolics in this mountain?

K.: I was seaking no direct political message.Some major political tensions already occured because of some well-known causes – the disputed caricature of Mohammed, for instance.I think that the most important is what people ought to see and this is the beauty of Islam.And that's why the generalization of a faith is so dangerous and, pitty, it happens now in the world. Today, there is increasingly s trend among the young people to incline toward a right-wing policy, a consequence of already mentioned constant serving, combined with a lack of good taste, I must say.

F.: The soldiers on your plate are also green..........

K.:The green is a military colour because army is looking for mimicry with the nature.

F.: Yeah, yeah, it's a perfid play.Many times you were using the russian word for art – iskustvo (= meaning the experience in croatian language).That's rather interesting, because people, more often than not, connect the art, artistic, with something artificial, not originating in nature.

K.: Long ago, my high-school professor in modeling Stanko Vukadin draw my attention to it and I think this is the best word for art.

F.: And so, seems, it is something natural, though.

K.: Quite. This term describs something based on a process and a work.

F.: Of course! What we need is the experience not to become the little wheels in a giant machinery and to know what are we doing.In this context, the experience is crucial.A lot of artists are a part of this system and they even don't know what they are doing.
As a matter of fact, there is somebody else thinking for them. Only the rare-ones think with their own heads.

K.: The problem is that the society puts no value to experience. The new,strong individuality or creativity can aquire no position in society, as they did in the 60-ies and 70-ies, even more so at the beginning of the 20-tieth century.Nowadays, people, knowledge, events, is grinded.
Everything is accelerated and subordinated to a profit, so it is very difficult to emerge with an original story tending toward a noble goal, toward a good.

F.: Good is no more.Today, that's the paradigm of inhumanity.
In your work called „THE HUMAN, ANIMAL, PLANT“, the being is streching its hands that are really branches.What does this work symbolize?

K.: The theme of this work has to do with the universalism. I united tree elemental lifeforms in one with a goal: to love and to be loved.

F.: Some years ago you've had an exhibition of the iron sculptures under the title „NO“ („NE“), and you told me you sold almost none of them.How come? Has this something to do with their weight? Maybe because it is not easy to transport them? How today's art-selling system function here?

K.: The fact that those sculptures were not sold is not quite clear to me.Indeed, as a matter of fact, I didn't try very hard to sell them, although they were exposed in one of largest and the best known galleries in town and took part in some important collective exhibitions.I managed to sell only three out of sixty, some of them were given as a present.

F.: The exhibition is called „NO“, but the iron is called YES? Why's that so?

K.: YES is for iron because this is a phantastic material and because I had an opportunity to work in this material under the sponsorship of an ironcasting industry in Bjelovar. To the sculptures, weight is a favor, not a problem. When you place it somewhere, you don't need to move it any more. So, the only problem is a transport. It is, generally, very demanding.to be engaged in sculptoring, because the sculptors work with a matter demanding a lot of time, material, effort, financial imput, nerves, what the people today can not see.
NO is for bad energy, vibrations and cosmical influences.This exhibition was also a teen-age negation of everything around me, because I don't wish to flatter anyone. Nobody is to be flattered.

F.:Do we need to flatter the custodians and collectors?

K.: Surely not the custodians.And let the collectors make some effort.It's absurd, but today the artists are supposed to play around the custodians and the collectors.

F.: Yeah, yeah, I spoke today with a custodian who declared that the artists should give them their works for a presnet!

K.: Custodians now have the upper hand – we are merely their tools. Very funny! It is indicative that in Croatia there are only two or three professional sculptors and that's a shame for a country of 4 and half million people with a strong sculptural tradition.It's more than terrifying, I think! On the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, last year the number of candidates for the Deparment of sculpture was below the number of possible students.Amazing is to see on the triennale of sculpture, for instance, that people still are engaged in such medium. Obviously, all is in enthusiasm.This medium has brought us through history, bringing with it a lot of things.Today, when we are free from the burden of the past, the sculpture has to find a new role in a society.

F.: Recently, the sculpture of Stjepan Radic was placed in the center of Zagreb.

K.: The point is to accumulate more political points. The people who placed this monument don't care for art. The sculpture lost its importance - the author was not even mentioned..

F.: The sculpture is a very heavy thing, indeed, not only from a material, but aswell from a social point of view.

K.: It seems, in this moment, that the sculpture is treated like an old lady, demanding a lot of care and understanding, but nobody gives her the attention and the support she needs.

F.: You're, also, engaged in a medium of video, the medium that, in difference to the
sculpture, has no weight, no matter.In the same time, there is an interesting relation and a discourse,aswell, between your ripe sculptoral presentation on the exhibition „NO“ and a parralel video work as a part of the same exhibition, an unconventional hologram about the

K.: I make no difference between video and sculpture because they demand the same engagement and energy, both of them are a demanding forms of work; so, there is no difference from my point of view.

F.: How to concilliate the society's relation toward a perception of media?

K.: It is not our duty to correct the wron things, only the primitive spectators make a difference among media and different stylistical characteritics.It's nothing new and nothing special. A creative personality will always take what suits him and what is at his hand.When asked how he knows what a colour to use, Picasso said he'll take the first at his hand.So I do not care about what are the people saying, if I would follow the thinking of the people who don't understand the act of creativity, I'll be better to do something else.The problem is in the critics, all sorts of them, who are opsessed with the drawers and try to put us all in it.

F.: Your hologram from the exhibition „NO“ unites light and sculpture.What were you trying in this work?

K.: Light and form have different logic.I tried to unite them using the light to produce the form.I projected my selfportrait over a piece of polystyrene modeled after this projection.The chunk of polystyrene turned into an illogical amorphic body.In the other words, the form determins the light, what's a general phenomenon in a nature.Everything's posessing a form and by an impulse of light it aquires its shape.Yet, each artistic work is not just a compound of light and form, but also the result of thinking, experiment, and great knowledge.Often, I put a colour on my sculptures what is, in fact, the same thing, only a more primitive technology.

F.: Why were you engaged with Tarkowsky in your video? I noticed a certain similarity between the video work about Tarkowsky and the painting ALLAH AKHBAR.Is this a coincidence?

K.: No coincidence, they belong to the same seria and I admire equally Allah and Tarkowsky.They are the objects of my interest, occupation and love.Each artist capable of modeling his own world and his authentic surrounding and having an impressive spirit, each artist posessing such power is like Allah.

F.: Have you some definite rule in your work?

K.: I have a selective approach to each of my works.I never do serials – in my head, each work is a separate story. Like each man being a separate story: he must have his own character, externity and interiority.

F.: Well, some people you like more, some less....Can you isolate any work?

K.: I can try! My the most powerfull work is my the most boring,too.It is an animation: „HOW THE DAMNED FROM HELL SAVED RONALD REGAN“.

F.: You're still thinking this work is boring?

K.: Not to me, but it is,mostly, to other people.Because it is a minimalistic animation in two frames, with a main-role figure moving only his lips. In this work I touched the problem of death.This is a story about a man who was clinically dead, and previously he was a narkoman,
law-breaker and the worst the man could be in a life.But after having the intensive experience of entering the Hell, he changed, returns among living and became a priest, a saint.This is a real-life story and man's name really is Ronald Regan.
The story of a clinical death can tell us a lot of things, but people are not ready to listen.They are not ready to hear the message those people are telling.Luckily, or sadlly though, I had no such experience but I still believe it's true, because 99,99% of people are telling the same story and after the event they change – for better.

F.: The work of art, isn't it dead, on the one side, and still living it's own life?

K.: Exactly! The people are regularly looking superficially and only the outer side, but a work of art surely has it's inner life and its own potential energy.But what happens by jurrying the works for certain competitions, manifestations, exhibitions, and so on: people say: this I do like, this I do not, this I do like, this I do not...... and so eliminate the valuable works and cutt their relation to public. On the surface level, everything functions.Luckily, today there is internet to erase all limits in communication, because one click is enough to see a work; the exhibitions in the institutions pass trough a filter of human stupidity.The art can change and adapt.It's a lucky circumstance.

F.: Your work „SAVE ENDANGERED MUSHROOM“ is a game, isn't it? How did you come across it? What is it ment for?

K.: The purpose of this game is not to entertain our little gray cells, it's role is to acquaint people about the lack of our consciousnesss about the extincting beings.In the same time, it warns the people about the pollution and the extinction of nearly 300 variety of mushroom only in Croatia. The game contains 34 chips with a photograph of critically endangered variety of mushrooms vanishing forever.This is a great tragedy and we are to be blamed. This problematics is, in the first place, ment for politicians to think about, not the artists.But today they only look how to please the industry, they have no vision, do not fight for children and people in general.And while Bandic is drinking the water in Vrbani, my home-town, proving a water is not polluted, not only mushrooms are dying, people are too.
Politicians are connected with bad people who bring them money and this is a great mistake.I am not an activist, it is not my job.I think about this in private and try bring it to light.Anyone
thinking this is no problem, lies to himself or to the others.After us, the other people will live on this planet and we'll leave them the garbage.

F.: Among your works there is one named „POMEGRANATE“.You made for our friend, a
vinemaker from Brac, Ivica Vujnovic.It's made in stone and coloured with a spray polluting the environment.

K.: I couldn't expect such a question even from Stankovic! We are all hypocrits, helas, there is not a man not being a hypocrit, the question is only in measure! And also, I think, we all are the parts of a giant roaring Titanic-machinery.

F.: Why do you so often use a hill as a motif and why always in different colours?

K.: Hills come always in different colours and differe visually, in vegetation and any other way. I use them to speak about the richness of this world we usually do not observe.Hills are separating us, but in the same time, they enrich us. My next work will be a tunnel.

F.: Why have you no violett hill? I am asking you that, because in a christian symbolics this colour is connecting the eartly and the heavenly – it unites the red and the blue.

K.: If you're thinking that I devide the earthly and the heavenly, you're right!Often, I come across the opinion that, in fact,the art is not necessary and there is some truth. It is only a helping tool for a man to ease his own existence on this world, to understand it better; it helps the people to have a better communication one to the other, supports their apprehension of earthly world. It doesn't give them the answers, but still helps the people to walk through this world.

F.: So it means eyes and arms are the prostheses?What the prosthesis really is?

K.: Yes, we are the essence with the prostheses.The art is just one, not the most important prosthesis, controlled by our the most crucial organ , the brain.

F.: One of your early works „THE SHINING SUN “,is ment to be charming, but it reminds me of nuclear explosion. Was this in your head,while making it?

K.: This work was made for a kindergarden and, sure, there was no such a thing in my head.But it is only one small step from the Sun and joy to a nuclear explosion.

F.: Yes, it is! If there would no nuclear explosions inside the Sun, then we wouldn't be here.We all generate from the Sun and seems we all are the consequence of a catastrophy .A nature's paradox, isn't it?

K.: Everything is paradox and everything is absurd, depending on the angle you're looking from.

F.: Can you tell me something about the photography „MY FATHER“ ?

K.: This is a photo of my father who, pitty, is gone short time ago.That's to whom I thank for having done my artistic work free of the burden of a material existence. Very often, the artists have a good angel, a maecenas or a family to bring at least a part of burden of their vocation. On the photo, my father is standing on a lawn in his birth-place Poljanska dolina on the banks of river Kupa in Slowenia.He is standing on our ancestral land.

F.: In the second plan, behind your father, are the two trees, united and linked together.

K.: Those trees I often photographed in numerous phases of their growth.I was fascinated by the fact that those two trees growe like the one. Later, I saw there are more such trees.They grew together because they made a compromise.They were not fighting each other, they decided to grow together.Seems that the nature is teaching us how is possible to live together with leveled rights.Pittyfully enough, the trees were burned down by a peasant's error, when he tryed to put the dry grass to the fire.

F.: Did something change in your work „ GOULASH“, while we were talking?

K.: „GOULASH“ got a new element. A funny character of a fat mole figure emerges suddenly among all those soldiers, with a newspaper under his arm and the walkman's
headphones on his ears, puzzled by what he saw was happening around him.He is some a sort of a counterpoint to this crazzy situation and, it seems to me, now the people will find much easier to identify with this work.

F.: Looks like a life entered the situation.

K.: The work aquired a humorous dimension aswell as a contrast. So, the imposing problem grew more clear.The fact is, no work is done and over until getting all its fullness.

F.: In painting, it's called THE SHINING IN THE EYE.

K.: So it is, long lives the shining in the eye!