Milica about others
Erika Remnant
Carmel Byrne
Braco Bravacic

Others about Milica
Chake Matossian
Tamares Goh

Chake Matossian

With her 19 art pieces exhibited in the Gulbenkian Foundation until the 6th of June, Milica Bravacic presents us a different vision of Lisbon, a vision rich with imagination, in which anxiety and humor have been interlaced. In this Baroque view life becomes its mere representation while the world appears almost as theatre. Bravacic plays with a format of a square, which then transforms into stage. Its margins prescribe the set for the bodily postures, movements and fall of the characters.

She is obsessed by the square, which multiplied makes a background of “azulejos”- in this manner the decorativeness from these typical tiles which adorn the walls, door and window frames, becomes alive as we walk alongside the paintings, similarly to the feel we have when wandering throughout the streets of Lisbon.

The multiplication of a square inside of another square is provoking a typically Baroque effect of “mise-en-abyme”, while the emphasis on verticality takes the figures “out” of the picture planes.

The most sublime version of this pictorial manner we can see in the “Wedding”, in which the Woman (as Kant would suggest, “having her presence domineered by Beauty”), finds herself defined and captured by the interior of the painting, whereas the Man (“who is closer to the Sublime”, again by Kant) trespasses the painting, protruding into its exteriority.

In these paintings we can encounter another obsession, which is again spectacularly Baroque, the one of curtain.

It is known that the first painted curtain was the one created by a Greek painter Parrasio, by which he wished to impress another master Zeuxis, who almost succeeded to trick the birds with his hyper-realistically painted grapes.

As a consequence to this, a curtain which had later been so skillfully painted on canvas, achieving enormous success by the XVII century, always remains as, Andre Chastel commented an “artificium”.

So it looks as Bravacic narrates the story of life ( Adolescence , Birth, Wedding etc.) by pointing out the essential artificiality of painting. The emblem of this artificiality is perhaps that woman, seated under a curtain (“Intimacy”), more a mannequin than a live creature, with such an even color of her skin, a figure that has been animated only by the monochrome red of her lipstick.

As she paints the curtains, M. Bravacic erects them as relieves which transform them into collages and sometimes invert in a “trompe l’oeil” effect. Although we perceive the drapes as the optical illusion on canvas, at the same time they are plastically confirmed as relieves. At this point, I need to underline the meaning of the glasses, which become a medium of duplication: a one of the paper, or the window, and again one of the frame.

The glasses cut from mirror seem to hide the eyes of the adolescent girl (“Adolescence”); at the same time they reflect the exhibiting space perceived by taking a certain distance from the painting. This situation confirms a theatrical essence of these paintings, which in themselves carry a world oppressed by phantasmagoric figures.

If there are elements of anger and anxiety (aggressive teeth, horrifying vertigo of velocity, “Drive”, or a fear of fall “Falling Man), in some other paintings presented at this exhibition the author combats these stressful feelings by humor, as is the case with the canvases picturing a famous Sandeman silhouette.

Painting of M. Bravacic has been built through a thorough superposition, altering the opaque and transparent layers. In this manner, deeply in its formation, the evidence of the “effect of a curtain” defines her paintings as they turn into an opus behind the veil of Isis.

Chake Matossian, art historian and curator, Fund. Calouste Gulbenkian