Gallery of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
04.09.2017. to 20.11.2019.
The fear before the universe where we have no more landmarks encourages me to seek the most sophisticated beauty in the very heart of the horror.
Three years after the death of academician Ljuba Popovic (1934–2016), the Gallery of the Serbian Academy of sciences and arts organized the most comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his paintings to date not only in Serbia but also in France, where he lived and worked since 1963. The authors of the exhibition are Nikola Kusovac and Slavica Batos.
The exhibition includes 45 works, mostly large formats, from all periods, arranged in six parts, in chronological order from the most recent to the oldest, and provides a complete insight into the work of one of the greatest painters of Serbian as well as French art scene:
Introductory setting – the first room is an exception in chronological order, it was the only with enough space for the monumental eight meters long triptych In honor of James George Fraser, from 1976-1978, with three more paintings from the same period.
The Post-2000 Period – confronting the light and the darkness, reexamining forms and life after death, the appearance of giant heads with large, gaping mouth which symbolizes “the mouth of hell” that attracts and ingests tiny humans.
Nineties – the fantastic bluish landscape and eroticism infused with tenderness and beauty from his paintings from the eighties is increasingly blended with representations of evil, ugliness, chaos and death. He called that phenomenon in his paintings “black romanticism”.
Eighties – the appearance of a brand new, ice blue tonality and the first major landscapes in which human figures are either tiny or do not even exist.
First Paris Period – with the arrival in Paris, he gradually leaves the scenes with one or two people indoors in confined space to replace them with wider and more lavish compositions.
Belgrade period – dominated by a human figure, often with a wiped face, immobile and trapped in a space filled with anxiety.
Ljuba’s painting style was described in France as surreal, fantastic
or symbolistic, and in Serbia, the historical and theoretical context of the Mediala Group was usually added, although he only exhibited with the Mediala group once, in 1960 in the Gallery of Grafički kolektiv. He had various role models but did not declare himself part of any group or movement. His aspiration in painting was what he called “Integrative painting”. In his own explanation, integrative painting cannot be a mere pleasure for the eye, but must comprehend the question of being in its depth and complexity, examine the position of man in the world and his tragic fate, mysteries that eroticism and the fear of death confront us with.