Temptations of the Misunderstood Forerunner
That painting is perhaps the only true novelty on the Serbian figural scene. It does not belong to postmedial fantastic art, homeland or urban realism, avant-garde events. He criticizes painting by using painting means. He creates his system, displaced from the ideologically divided scene. He is sharp, succulent, rustic, bitter, cruel, but not raw. He can because he knows. He paints equally well both with his right and his left hand

By: Dejan Đorić

Tomislav Suhecki renewed the crucial phenomena in the history of art. Painting, perhaps more than other arts, requests complex work with warm and cold, light and dark, based on contrasts and extremes. Gentle, virginal parts in a painting should be reconciled with strong, cruel elements. Painting is the harmony of opposites, energy of love and hate. The master from Vršac knows the secret of the craft well, as well as the concept, the idea implying a consciousness wider than the manual-performing. Like all good artists, he has the entire history of art in mind, thus his work is perhaps before all a reaction to styles, movements, projects and ideas.
Suhecki is an erudite painter; pictor-doctus, as people used to call it in the past. His contemplations of contemporariness are both original and inspiring for forming a unique iconography. More important than the philosophical foundations and the ideas he has about art and on which he founds his opus, is the fact that he not only betrays the basics of the art of painting with his work, but also advocates the most unique in it. The Slovak art historian Vojteh Volavka spent years in researching the phenomenon of stroke, trace on the canvas, the unrepeatable imperfection and warmth left by the hand of an artist. His book Painter’s Handwriting was translated into several languages, as well as the famous work of Henri Focillon Life of Forms in Art – In Praise of Hands. Historians and art historians, however, can only anticipate what any painter knows with their gaze wandering on the surface of the canvas, organizing the vast desolateness, filling and inhabiting a world with their selves. An artist represents the best part of himself, as well as the high achievement of humaneness. In that respect, Suhecki opens an old, yet actual issue of the history of painting.


Contemporary Serbian painters can be divided into those behaving as if modern art didn’t exist and others, who perhaps excessively respect contemporary experiences. This professor from Vršac attempts to reconcile the ideological extremes, to take the best from all schools. In his opus, he refers to Rembrandt, Baroque masters, realists and naturalists of the XIX century, post-impressionists and expressionists, from the pioneers of modern art to the neo-expressionists of the eighties. At first glance passionate, blossoming and artistically ruffled up, the background of his works does not accentuate the feelings and character of the painter, but his relation to the history of art. The object of this interest is a very rare phenomenology – criticism of painting by using painting means, search for the multi-layered contents which exceeds the common problems in fine arts, the painter’s interpretation of the history of art. It is a conceptual understanding close to conceptual art. Painting there is not only an area of vocational reliability and perfection, but also of philosophical questioning. Therefore this artist has no traces of sweetness and kitsch many significant artists have slipped into, he doesn’t want to be liked by or to woo the observer, he doesn’t compromise his work with banal means. Sharp, biting, rustic, bitter, cruel but not raw, never naive, sometimes arrogant in his boldness, he reminds of avant-garde artists between the two wars as well as of old masters who broke the seals of time, betrayed laws and canons, quickly and self-consciously establishing a new order.
Finally, Suhecki’s painting is perhaps the only true novelty on the Serbian figural scene. It doesn’t belong to post-medial fantastic art, homeland or urban realism, or avant-garde events. Suhecki has a critical towards these phenomena, creating his own system, displaced from the ideologically divided scene. The painter wishes to establish a system of values, not to destroy it, he is a creator, not an annihilator, his criticism and conceptual sharpness are not iconoclastic like in avant-gardes, open towards negation and nihilism. The old masters were already aware that there is no progress without doubt, and contemporary, such as Suhecki, that excessive doubt leads to artistic self-cancelation.


He has a very special place in the history of contemporary Serbian painting. A seemingly good painter of female nudes and animals, skilled in cutting the classically understood figural presentation into pieces in a juicy and impressive manner, he is actually a pioneer in the world of our neo-avant-garde.
If we do accept the fact that a new era of equality of styles and phenomena begins in the eighties, the time of ”blossoming of a thousand flowers”, but for the first time in history without any dominant direction or role model, then Dragoš Kalajić was the theoretical forerunner of postmodern art in world proportions. He announced its glamorous, charismatic, kemp variant, close to Paolo Portogesi, which wasn’t, however, widely accepted. Opposite to him, different than the up to then known figuration, in the circle of avant-garde artists and critics, the painting of neo-expressionism was being formed, the Serbian answer to the actual art of Italian trans-avant-garde, to the painting of German ”new wild” and the American so-called ”bad painting”.
Suhecki doesn’t belong to any of the dominant and opposed streams in Serbian art, but, together with Mario Điković and Radovan Hiršl, he is the forerunner of postmodern aestheticism. Advocating a new approach to art, he overgrew the frames of his environment, and with his achievements and universality of his messages, the borders of contemporary figuration. Without belonging and humoring anyone, bold and daring to rain down on authorities and false values, mainly because he knows and can, he is one of the last significant Serbian (post)modern painters, moved aside and perhaps less known, because he disturbs many with his clear and loud artistic speech and uncompromising appearance. Perhaps his way of working is the only right one. Great painters of the XIX century today celebrated as traditionalists were avant-garde painters in their times, those who rejected the lessons of their teachers, nazarenes and Biedermeier detailists, or those who, like peredvizhniki, turned against the academy as a classical school and the institutional exhibition system.
Together with several younger and older painters, Tomislav Suhecki is an artist who creatively opens the issue of heritage, the relation between tradition and innovation, realism, expressionism and post-modern art. Excellent drawer, painter with an attitude and backing, he is a perfect example of a fighter who wasn’t entirely understood and accepted in his time. Both conservatives and experimenters doubt him. Is there a better capital for the future, isn’t that why he is the master who exceeds actual divisions and aesthetic clichés, will he not, exactly because he is criticized now, be discovered as the classic of Serbian post-modern art?


Tomislav Suhecki (1950) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, and completed his post-graduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, in the class of professor Zoran Petrović. He teaches at the College for Educating Teachers in Vršac. He had more than 85 solo and 500 joint exhibitions in the country and abroad. He published 15 papers. Winner of 17 awards and recognitions. As a painter and drawer, he is ambidextrous: he uses both his right and his left hand equally well.
He lives and works in Vršac.


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