In Painted Constellations, Miljan Suknovic Fuses Material, Space, and Color

Miljan Suknovic’s art reflects a restless spirit, addicted to constant movement, enrichment, and unrepressed creativity. Originally from Montenegro, Suknovic studied art and architecture in first in Belgrade, then Prague, Florence and Hamburg, and finally in New York, where he still lives and works. This wide range of experience is evident in his paintings, which are constantly evolving through different forms of art-making and testing the potentials and limits of material, space, and color. This primary focus on experimentation has led him to a monthlong residency at Catherine Ahnell Gallery, during which he has created a body of work entitled “Constellations III.” 

The primary effect of Suknovic’s recent painting work has been a distinct dynamism, achieved through an increasingly vibrant palette and emphasis on the physicality of his painting style in the finished works, a psychedelic Abstract Expressionism. Suknovic uses wide, painterly gestures, working methodically to build great, fluorescent fields, layered universes often punctuated by splattered explosions of colors that imitate the entitled constellations. In other works, such as his series of eight large-scale paintings recently exhibited at the new 7 World Trade Center alongside works by Jenny Holzer and Jeff Koons, Suknovic slices up these fields of color with geometric lines, creating planar structures and relating the abstract works to concrete spaces. These works reference Suknovic’s earliest experiences studying architecture, a continued interest also apparent in his paintings that break free from the canvas, traveling across the wall in vast murals, and in site-specific sculptural installations that employ language both from painting and from spatial studies. 

Suknovic has exhibited widely on an international scale, with repeat solo shows at New York’s Union Gallery and Slag Gallery, Galleria DEA in Florence, and Petalouda Art Gallery in Naxos, Greece, among others. Although abstract painting makes up much of his oeuvre, he also has a parallel body of more slapstick work created with a strong sense of irony regarding the art world, including a series of large-scale portraits of New York’s art world power players (including Larry Gagosian, Roberta Smith and Eli Broad). “Constellations III” promises an immersive experience demonstrating Suknovic’s skilled facility with color, enveloping visitors in his painted networks of line and form, and investigating the concepts of chaos and order. 

—K. Sundberg

Constellations III” is on view at Catherine Ahnell Galley, New York, Nov. 13–Dec. 15, 2014. 

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