One of the younger generation artists developing her own painting postulates without the schematic “running in the circle” is without a doubt Vanja Popek. Continually building a recognizable artful expression, this painter is working on the part and the tradition from abstract expressionism, poor and so-called primary painting, introducing to the painting carefully and with deliberation an abstractly pieced echo of a motive, mood, gesture or emotion. In the new cycle from 2008, Vanja Popek continues the process of releasing the gesture, work in big formats and connected polyptics – work dimensions on which the artist occupation is unquestionably celebrated and praised.
The world reduced to a contrast of black and white, with a gray scale of nuances and overwhelming representation of the red colour shows the observer all the strength of the emotional approach to painting, a temperamental charge to the empty canvas, almost completely suppressed racia. Wide colour strokes, plenty of different line and space directions, painting over the existing layers of substance, cancelling existing directions and looking for new ways on the painting by scratching lines into the existing texture, are just some of the signals for what the American painter Brice Marden once called “highly emotional paintings which have to be felt, not admired for technical or intellectual reasons.” Already in her earlier works, Vanja Popek shared the sensibility by the way of treating painting substances with some of our painters of a younger generation, equally as in the new cycle we recognise some unusual shell-amoeba shapes which suggest a primary force and consistency of life, a motive which is universally inspiring to some other artists. Nevertheless, while representation of the influence of graffiti applied onto the canvas is a lot more present with other artists from Vanja’s generation, in her latest works a conscience dimension is present, at first sight conceded to taming of the painting surface, but actually it is a total interior liberation of the artist. Here, there are no calculations whether and in what measure these paintings will be liked by observers; they are therapy, purgatory, scaffold and elation, a stage on which – sometimes decently, sometimes brutally – all emotional layers of the artist are unfolded, all internal battles and crucifixions. They are very lively and pulsating, even when some canvases are apparently unfinished or unworked, in a gray spectre, silenced in whiteness. This cycle is an escape from being liked and sucking up to commercial standards, but it is also a manifest of pure art in which the limitations of how the mind leads the hand while painting do not exist, they have been erased! Their strength is in the credibility of gesture, in the non-phoniness of intention, but also in the recognition of artist’s quality that without a well – studied craft, this kind of “dramatic ease” of painting is absolutely impossible.