Stipan Tadić / THE BICYCLE DIARY / ROADKILL
Stipan Tadić, considered by many to be one of the most talented painters of the Croatian art scene, represents a part of the new, young generation of artists belonging to the so-called New Croatian Realism. Their mutual characteristic is a return to figuration and realism in representation and narration despite their individual, heterogeneous visual language and use of different media and artistic methods. When Stipan Tadić speaks about his work, he always likes to say he paints in traditional sense; he wants to demystify painting and bring it closer to audience, as well as renew the dignity of realistic-representational approach. He prefers classic painterly and drawing techniques and methods, flawless composition and form in terms of métier, and realistic image – as it is in reality and as he sees it. This is why immediate observation of the visible of world is the question of utmost importance to him. It is the question of authentic reality and the question of truth. Yet, no matter how much he strives to represent visible world in a perfectionist and almost photographically accurate manner, he never actually imitates it, but reproduces it in the way of his own time and generation. This is because, despite insisting on thoroughly precise reality, he cannot resist including in his work other actual experiences, means and methods of the present – for example, elements of illustration and comic strips, neo pop art grotesque, paradox and irony, new aesthetic of the ugly and the repulsive as well as contemporary ethical-ecological discourse.
All of this can be seen in Tadić’s intriguing cycle CYCLIST’S JOURNAL/ROADKILL – series comprising 19 small sketches based on photographs of roadkill he stumbled upon while cycling. According to him, “the images represent illustrations of dead animals found and photographed on his cycling journeys through Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Italy. They are made in the style of 18th century encyclopaedic sketches, using egg tempera technique. Arranged accordingly, they compose a short narrative story in which animal corpses, from the beginning to the end, blend with soil and surrounding environment progressively, morphing into abstract shapes and becoming completely unrecognisable at the end of the process. Final illustration represents Heaven, where all animals stand alongside bicycle, most peaceful means of transport and representation of non-aggressive way of life”.
Each of Stipan Tadić’s works is a visual record of his biography. Same as in this case, he always uses painting and drawing to make a log of events in his life. Visual story is a result of actual perceptive experience. Images of events are compressed into non-chronological sequential frieze consisting of 19 sketches that enable detection and revelation of problematic. Author’s hyper realistic visual narrative does not only reconstruct an event, but forensically takes notes of its consequences. However, Tadić’s seemingly cool and extremely precise illustrations depicting roadkill are not bloodless, course book anatomical sketches showing scrupulously accurate scheme of organs but emotionally tormenting notes of road massacre, with messily scattered and dragged around gory organs and parts of animals-victims. Therefore, selected visual model is a naturalistic image, while aesthetic category falls under the field of “the ugly and the repulsive. However, it is extremely suggestive, professional and proficient in terms of medium and visual impression at the same time. In this case, the artist is a witness of events and a social subject, taking evidence of violence committed against nature, i.e. fauna, in the present, high-tech society, and questioning the state of spirit in the modern age. He identifies insensitivity, ignorance and lack of empathy as a norm of behaviour. The images of death cause feelings of anxiety and repulsiveness, as well as experience of absurd because of conflicting opposites; grotesque scenes showing tattered animal cadavers within idyllic landscapes. There are two contrasted worlds: living and dead (killed) nature, and finally, a metaphor of contemporary life, with all of its contradictory events in midst of its two halves – Arcadia and Calvary.
Encounter with death watching the spectator from its dead eyes (even if these are dead animal’s eyes) always leaves some kind of trace and initiates value movements. Stipan Tadić is emotionally moved by roadkill. Unfortunately, in real life he could not invest himself in that story any further, but got involved in it via his painting. He finished it in his own way, solving injustice in form of crimes against killed animals by resurrecting them in a better and more just world, and returning them into heavenly Paradise, where they came from, according to the Bible.
Višnja Slavica Gabout
Stipan Tadić was born in Zagreb in 1986. In 2011 he graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, class of prof. Kauzlarić-Atač. He is a prominent Zagreb-based visual artist and painter also working as illustrator, cartoonist and muralist. He actively participates in local and international art scene and art residency programmes since 2008, as well as in different activities in the field of art. In that respect, he is noted for the foundation of the Anti-Salon within the Autonomous Cultural Centre Medika. Many of his works are part of Lauba collection, one of the most important contemporary art collections in Croatia, and Modern Gallery, national museum devoted to Croatian modern art. He is vice president and co-founder of Ilirski zmaj, association with the goal of decentralisation of visual arts in Croatia and has been a member of Croatian Freelance Artists Association since 2013. He regularly exhibits his work in solo and group exhibitions in Croatia and abroad. He won several awards (2nd award at the Youth Salon in 2011, Best Young Croatian Artist award in 2013, and 2nd award at the Santorini Biennale in 2012).