Invoked by Orpheus’ Lyre
Her paintings open up like scenes. Images of natural treasure or Mediterranean world, which is nothing but the lost paradise, homeland, childhood and innocence. The historical landscape of the Mediterranean, Crete, Greece and Etruria, the revived light of the Aegean Sea, faces from old frescoes which restart their game with gods and mortals. Her Mačva and the Balkan hinterland of fairy-like nature, the Balkans as the subconscious and bad conscience of Europe, are in the background

By: Dejan Djorić

In an apartment at the outskirts of Belgrade, reminding of the interior of honeycomb, one can see many cactuses and other plants. This is directly connected to the owner of a plant collection who lives here, in a street with a symbolic name. The small garden with umber and green colors spreads on the paintings of Slobodanka Rakić-Šefer. The saturated canvases seem to originate from cactuses.
Rare in Serbian painting, her works are turned towards nature in many ways, from the way of living to the symbolic and historical. Cherries, St. John’s day flowers, knapweed, corn and other plants expressing natural fullness, blossom and mature in the pictures. That is why her paintings are entitled Pride-Abundance, In the Garden of a Spring, Garden of Eden – Spring or Guardian of Strawberries. Natural cycles and times of day – as history of art teaches – can be symbolized. Similarly, certain colors, harmonies and contrasts, living beings, composition arrangements and positions of bodies, can be symbols of certain époques and styles.
The paintings of Slobodanka Rakić-Šefer open up like scenes, images of natural treasure or the Mediterranean world, which is nothing but the lost paradise, homeland, childhood and innocence of Europe. The historical landscape of the Mediterranean, Crete, Greece and Etruria spread on her oils on canvas, the light of the Aegean Sea is revived, faces from old frescoes restart their game with gods and mortals. Her Mačva and the Balkan hinterland of fairy-like nature, the Balkans as the subconscious and bad conscience of Europe, are in the background.


The painter’s world is ceremonial and elevated from everyday life, she paints people as beautiful as gods, with pink cheeks and illuminated with golden light, happy, dedicated to music. Orpheus, the holy character, appears as well, the artist indicates the apollonian nature of antique civilizations, the ancient societies in which self-confidence and beauty of living ruled. There are lake gardens, weaving of light, sea stories, celebrations at dusk, sea battles and the birth of the white city we find in the titles of her paintings. She represents maritime and sunbathed landscapes, flying fish and the world of shells, sea stars, corals and pearls from the rich sea bottom, into which she introduces motifs from Serbian lace and embroidery. Deer and roes in her paintings carelessly run over happy mountains, flowers and plants grow up as high as trees, rivers flow, baskets with fruit mix with the horn of abundance. Similar images are characteristic for Persian and Far East painting, but chicken from Serbian villages can also enter the world of elevated sensibility.
The artist attempts to depict scents, she wants to make the sight tangible and real, however unreal it might be. She revealed dolphins, birds which kiss while flying, sea fruit, meandering rivers, swallows as heralds and, above all, bees. She dedicated a cycle of paintings to them at the beginning of the nineties. She understands the bee as a poetic being from a more perfect, sunny world, as her sister in nature. Also appearing in the paintings and water colors of this artist are expressions of natural eroticism, bodies in play, bulls with red horns, honeycomb, as celebration and joy of living. The painter is also a writer, she fills the pages of her artistic diary. Since recently, she became engaged in the mixture of picture and text, painting as palimpsest, a painted collage, making an effort never to betray the joy of painting.
In the demonium of the postindustrial world and poisoning civilization, artistic works with poetic values, which, with their naivety and directness remind of the best days of modern painting, have been born in Belgrade, in Baštovanska Street. Like a female Robinson, in her oasis surrounded with plants and whiteness, the artist gives more significance to a magpie on the field than to contemporary artificialness and perversity. In her paintings we will find style borrowings, quotes or homage to Paul Klee and Mark Chagall. As Borges says, there is nothing not mysterious in the world. As if upon Voltaire’s request from his novel Candid, the painter just happily cultivates her garden around her outbuilding from childhood. Thus in her joyful, pure opus, everything resembles whiteness, purity and decency of girls who prepared embroideries to gift them to their beloved ones.


Slobodanka Rakić-Šefer was born on St. Sava’s Day in 1953, in Duvanište, Mačva. She graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Fine Arts in 1976, and completed her postgraduate studies in 1978. She is member of ULUS and Association of Serbian Artists ”Lada”. She participated at about ninety solo and several hundred group exhibitions in the country and abroad. Her works are in the National Museum in Belgrade, Museum of the City of Belgrade, National Museum in Šabac, National Museum in Kraljevo, Museum of Jagodina, ”Jefimija” Legacy in Trstenik, Museum in Prijepolje, RTS Collection, National Library in Belgrade, City of Belgrade Library, Modern Gallery in Užice, Youth Home in Skoplje... Since the year 2000, many of her works have become part of foreign collections.
More than 1.500 texts in catalogues, books, magazines, weekly and daily newspapers were written about her work. The Belgrade publisher ”Dereta” published in 2006 a book of her illustrated autobiographical notes Under the Eaves of My Grandfathers Cottage. She was awarded with the ”Golden Beocug” in 2012. She is currently preparing her monograph and book of notes about her encounters with famous people.


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