Petar Jakelić / The Black White Grey Dozen
Petar Jakelić earned its 39th Split Salon award thanks to the metier and compositional perfection of his two recently made achromatic abstract compositions. The paintings, rich in matter, sovereign in gesture and compact in forms, corresponded completely on a formal, symbolical and semantical level to their simple title Rocks, and they stood out by their roundedness and maturity among other artworks within Kula gallery display. Contrary to popular opinion that jury decision in the right way – by spontaneously reacting to the quality of a presented artwork without consultation of the wall text information. The satisfaction was even greater, and the total impression of the artworks more understandable by the fact that Petar Jakelić and his paintings enabled us to give the award to the veteran of traditional comprehension of the fine arts. By doing so, we also honor the artist’s vital decision in the right way – by spontaneously reacting to the quality of a presented artwork without consultation of the wall text information. The satisfaction was even greater, and the total impression of the artworks more understandable by the fact that Petar Jakelić and his paintings enabled us to give the award to the veteran of traditional comprehension of the fine arts. By doing so, we also honor the artist’s vital decision to support the ambition of his artistic association in an overall survey of Split art scene and (new) media art, which to his generation of artists often causes discomfort and doubt that qualified curatorial bodies comprising members of a younger generation are more inclined to it from the start.
Six months later, after Jakelić’s invitation to his studio, the first view of the cycle of paintings shown that the artist, after leaping towards total abstraction, returned to his own recognizable aesthetics. Although the cycle entitled The Black White Grey Dozen echoes conceptual and minimal art, it strongly expressed gestural field of painting and to the joy of his many admirers – I am sure – recognizable Jakelić’s figurative Imaginarium comes to life, inspired by the surrealistic poetics on the trail of Medijala, nurtured from his beginnings as a painter in the sixties. I freely interpret conversation with Jakelić when he told me that abstraction is simply not adequate enough to express his deeply narrative discourse. As a painter of heavy coloristic valeurs, he developed a narrow, achromatic register to the unfathomable expressive maximum. This gave an epic timbre to this cycle, so everything in his art that is usually lyrical, although still phantasmagorical, grows into being dramatic and deserving of the austere theme such is the gravity of existence in the karst of Dalmatia’s hinterland. Sovereignly executed segments that share the composition with abstract art are the carriers of this impression. In their path, one can, more or less clearly, see silhouettes and forms typical for Jakelić, inspired by folk tales, according to which cloud and mountain edges transform into fresh girl’s faces and bodies. Eventually, they are transformed by hard life into those of elder women’s and mother’s, with their faces wrinkled more than karst on the other paintings. It is evident that the two starting paintings from Jakelić’s current cycle are passages of karst derived into abstract form.
Opposed to the clear transposition of the mental plan, as is the case with abstract paintings developed on the basis of constructivist art, in the process of reduction of the apparent world that determined many parts of our high modernist painting. Jakelić’s knowledge of abstract art is evident through his compositions and personal painterly approach. He uses those experiences skillfully in the construction of background parts of his known heavily and broadly colored figurative compositions. In the current achromatic cycle of paintings, there has been the disturbance of usual balance. Abstract segments of the paintings are carriers of general impression and dominant in regards to the figures developed from them or appear to be invested in them. Poetics used by the modernist language or contemporary technology for the representation of the rural life, in our culture presents a strong phenomenon and popular genre, regardless of whether it is the domain of literature, theater, film, television drama or visual arts. Thanks to his affection and deep empathy for the landscape and life of his birthplace Prugovo, and education and practice based on the visuality of modernism, Petar Jakelić enriched this culturally logical pattern with unique note that, in a wide range of surreal atmosphere merges his lyrical, epic and naturalistic impression of birthday, on the other side of populist exploitation and idealization reduced to the syntagm Mediterranean as it once was.
Petar Jakelić was born on 15 April, 1938 in Prugovo near Split. He graduated at the School of Applied Arts in Split. In high school, he published drawings and vignettes in the high school newspaper Polet, and illustrations of texts in the Split newspaper Vidik and Slobodna Dalmacija. In 1959, he entered the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade. During the study he supported himself by doing illustrations for newspapers and magazines. Jakelić held his first one-man exhibition in Priština in 1964. In the same year he started working as a teacher at the School of Applied Arts in Split, where he was teaching courses on drawing and painting, graphic arts of high and deep printing, lithography, cover and book design, poster and graphic design in general. Later, in 1977, he became lecturer at the Teachers’ Academy in Split, where he was teaching courses on drawing and painting, graphics and applied graphics. Since the founding of the Art Academy in Split in 1997, he was teaching the course of graphics. He retired in 2008 as a full professor in tenure, and in 2009 he got the honorary title of professor emeritus for his teaching and research work excellence and his merit of the progress of the University of Split.