Discovery of a parallel universe
By Mirjana Bajic
First encounter with the drawing opus of Andrej Konopek from the cycle Towers are built from inside (shown in the gallery SULUJ 201), has initiated, paradoxically, an impression of the naturalness of the world in which peculiar creatures that emerged from the ground are moving, touching, actively inhabiting. Instead of shiver and gloom, because the creatures had long limbs and short bodies, strange flat faces, tiny eyes and bulky ears, the whole cycle radiated with incredible vitality, even the organization of a world that dwells within devastated landscapes and atmosphere, far from the recognizable natural landscape contours. The artist's appearance, a young, elegant creator, communicative, made a kind of a counterpoint to the drawings originating from deep layers of the psyche, evidently during a long process of introspection, a secret dialogue De Profundis of a closed realm of intimacy, where dreams and reality freely touch. Work method to which Andrej is almost obsessively committed is a classical pen and ink drawing, with watercolour batches and it speaks of generational exceptionalism (((of the artist in the field of creativity with a great influx of digital technology.)))
Cycle Around Fire that’s in front of us, created over the past few years, in a formal sense, reveals an evolution in direction of minimizing or narrowing the line, artist's basic means of expression, and the composition that concentrates around the main event, referring to the Baroque art and projected dramatic tension that expands from the imaginary epicentre. Creatures themselves became more agile, overwhelmed by touching each other, penetrating into each other's tissues, as if an even greater need for contact was created from a latent tendency, and then a new wave of merging from touch. No matter how a feeling of pain and hurt was reflected, even aggression at times, new drawing imaginary of Andrej Konopek, enriched also by the bold implementation of oil on coated paper technique (thus deleting boundaries between the medium of drawing and painting) is a mature projection of a parallel reality in which we are also moving, unaware of our impulses and their consequences. From the position of constantly exploring his own subconscious, the artist has come to the realm of communication of contemporary drama, to moments of discovery that are enlightening and cathartic at the same time, instead of intimidating. Possible interpretations, associations and reflections also point to the area of Eros, in which antiquity has found a counterpoint to the fear of the twin brother Tanatos, whose dualism hides the basis of an eternal drama of existence. Konopek's strange, yet so akin beings, echo the characteristic procreative "touch of fingers" (from the scene of God giving life to Adam – Michelangelo’s cult composition on the ceiling of Sistine), often symbolic of "penetration" through the tissue of the other. Elongated limbs associate with complex structures of brain neurons, metamorphosis - a visualization of mental processes, whose fluidity, secrecy, qualmishness, explosiveness are projected through a creative trace, a drawing code that is, with the uniqueness and stylization raised to an even higher level in the new opus. The artist, whose universe is constantly evolving in a parallel walk between imagination and drawing virtuosity, has moved from a realistic - carnal - corporeal interpretation of figure in his early works, to the ever-increasing reduction of line and the enhancement of its dynamism through space. If we look at this peculiar process of abstraction as the separation of essential elements, the energetic deviation from mimetic, even illustrative methods of creation, we can classify Andrej Konopek into a new generation of masters of drawing and surrealism, historically always oriented towards avant-garde, which has a great unbroken tradition in this region ever since interwar times, and then Medijale, in the middle of the last century. With a significant difference in goals and cultural aspects of work, which, instead of closing in the autonomous mystical world of personal metaphysis, bravely engages in daily struggle within the psyche of homo metropolis, visualizing the controversy between the pressures of new age environment (culture of uniformity, brand-mania, political correctness) and the urge of subconscious that lead us, indirectly, to a more humane resolution of internal conflicts, liberation and individuation. The very name of the cycle symbolically introduces us to the process of purification where we are gathered and not alienated and lonely, anciently gathered - Around Fire.