Biography

In my landscape painting, I am forever trying to capture the right light, the fleeting reflection of light on nature, when working on canvas. I feel excited and responsible for the success, or failure of my efforts to represent that light. I watch that game of changing lights in nature with their mutual effects and, as far as I can, I conjure them up on canvas to illustrate that happiness of living in such beautiful surroundings. Regardless of the time or effort involved I am anxious to succeed. I try to transfer to my paintings what I have seen with my eyes and the vision in my mind, in order to show future generations where, how and in what kind of idyllic life we used to live.

Sekula Dugandzic

There is, in his paintings, a certain nostalgia for a world which is constantly disappearing. The nostalgia of a chronicler, for the places and people of his childhood.”

Franjo Llikar, art critic

Sekula Dugandziv was born in 1935 in Azapovici near Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is an artist painting in the “naive” style.

Sekula first began painting as a hobby without any formal training. He has been painting now for over four decades and is well known in the former Yugoslavia and abroad. His reputation does not come solely from being a member of the recognised naive school of painting and the demand that exists for this art in the former Yugoslavia . Sekula is famous for his special style of painting, based on his great sensitivity and enthusiasm for the world around him; a world in which he has such a great interest. In style, in his close observation, and in his lifestyle, Sekula reminds us of the artists of the past. These painters from the past had not known suspicion. They had no care for public recognition. As a self-confident artist, Sekula Dugandzic has a similar attitude and enthusiasm.

Note: This article has been extracted from one of the catalogues and is intended to give you more information about the artist and his paintings.

This style of naive art has several prominent representatives in the world. Let us remember, for example, Renee Rember, whose painting does not in the least resemble that which we used to consider naive. The general interest, that at one time was aroused by the Hlebine School, is certainly one of the reasons why we started to regard naive art as identical with the painting of distorted proportions and deformed shapes. We do not find this in the painting of such an individual and original artist as Sekula Dugandzic.

In Sekula’s work there is often a wide panorama of scenery with characteristically white painted cottages, with small windows and steep roofs. Sometimes Sekula’s sight stops at a small village, where the distant red roofs of houses disturb the green balance of the picture, making it more compelling. While observing the village houses from a closer perspective, he notices every detail of its life: with chickens in a garden, haystacks, and horses grazing. When painting a man sitting at a table in front of his cottage with the garden in full bloom, Sekula catches the beauty of man’s life in everyday contact with nature. Quiet flocks in meadows, sometimes with shepherds looking after them, show how animals, people and even the architecture of the houses, coalesce with the landscape in which they are living and existing.

Undisturbed harmony is particularly expressed by Sekula’s winter landscapes, where houses are swamped under the snow with deep gullies running to and from them. Arrangement in Sekula’s paintings is very important. Depending on whether he captures a landscape that includes the sky or if he lowers the point of horizon so that the sky cannot be seen, the atmosphere of the picture changes dramatically. In his “landscapes without sky”, Sekula attains a personal sense of the metaphysical, even when they have the very recognisable motif of flocks of sheep, shepherds, and villages. In such arrangements he demonstrates Bosnia ’s parochialism, of which Ivo Andric had written, and exerts a deceptive power that reveals so much more than what is hidden in the work of previous artists. In such “parochial landscapes” the artist at times goes to lyrical extremes in skilfully concealing the curved shapes of the female form.

Other examples of Sekula’s work are his paintings of various scenes from village life, which are always expressed with factual precision and definition. There are scenes of  railway station, women in a field carrying pottery for cheese and milk, grain threshing, the village fair and so on. In these paintings, his art can be expressed in the decorativeness of traditional clothes. In all of these paintings, the beauty of simultaneous work, the involvement of large numbers of people peacefully gathered in the same work, is sensitively felt. There is a dominant feeling of strong inter–connectivity between the participants of the scene.

Sekula’s third favourite theme is probably the scenes of old Bosnian towns buzzing with life, particularly the old square where people gather, chat, and pass through. The characteristic architecture of the old Bosnian houses covered with wooden roofs, show sense right in their asymmetricity. Steep roofs appeal to the heavy winters which caused their shape. Many such towns have disappeared, but Sekula’s paintings express happiness from having seen and memorised them. Perhaps, such paintings could not be painted in any other way.

Nevertheless, the best of Sekula’s art is felt in his verdant landscapes, with the undisturbed presence of villagers. There are also hard traces of man’s life, but this life is so permeated with grass, greenness, or snow, that the artist is happy in his paintings simply because he lives with nature. In Sekula’s paintings there is no trace of the strenuous and hard life of country villagers, as it is present in the work of many other naive artists in the former Yugoslavia . His paintings are odes of happiness to Bosnia ’s “hills without sky”, a song of gratitude because he has found something in nature he carries in his soul something which he thought he had dreamt many times. This link between Sekula’s personally desired imagination and his wish to confirm in the world which surrounds him, brings to his paintings an intimacy with the observer who believes them, and therefore manages to directly feel their beauty

When civil war broke out in the former Yugoslavia leading to tragic results, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina , with mass murder, destruction and terrible suffering for so many innocent people, Sekula’s style of painting changed dramatically.  As an everyday witness of the war, he suddenly stops his positive treatment of light, in which he has been so influential, and withdraws from his usual realistic style. In his new artistic vision, he enters a world of fantasy where darkness replaces light, and black, deep black, is the dominant colour. The artist has created an evil being which grows like a dangerous bacteria and which lays waste the formerly idyllic homeland. Houses, animals, and people disappear. Death is everywhere. Such was the artist’s vision of Bosnia during the war.

 

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