RADENKO MILAK ‒ From the Far Side of the Moon
June 10 – August 26, 2017
In this digital age, the production of images has spun out of control. Hundreds of thousands of images are created every second. Radenko Milak (b. 1980) poses questions about our visual memories in the digital age. Watercolor, painting, drawing ‒ and most recently, an animated film ‒ are the means of expression which the artist is currently using in his exhibition for the Bosnia and Herzegovina pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.
In Radenko Milak’s second solo show at PRISKA PASQUER, he presents, among other works, four large-format watercolors which were specially created for this exhibition. The 200 x 140 cm panels are among the first aquarelles that the artist has completed in these monumental dimensions. They share this new format with another group of works which is being presented in Venice at the same time. Thematically, the Cologne works deal with pictorial worlds which we can only view by means of the most modern optical processes. Nano-microscopes show us the tiniest of structures, while the Hubble Space Telescope presents us with images from the endless expanse of the universe. Both of these worlds exist outside of our natural capacity for perception, and in between these extreme dimensions, the human size range plays an infinitesimal role. Only with the help of highly sophisticated technology can human beings presume to reach these other spheres.
When Radenko Milak selects a few of these micro or macro-images and translates them into monochromatic watercolor paintings, he is transforming the physical, digital process back into a subjective, handmade medium that is artistic in the traditional sense. In the act of doing so, he makes the symbolic power and aesthetic potential of the images available to the viewers. Although we can see these images, we cannot read them. They are abstract formations and fractals from another world, which ultimately escape our grasp. The works provoke astonished curiosity in the observer. Our recognition of the range between the smallest and largest of structures is both intimidating and thrilling. At the same time, we are presented with works that impress us with their painterly charisma and symphonic tones of black, white and grey.
In addition to these pieces, Milak’s animated film From the Far Side of the Moon will be presented along with a selection of the numerous charcoal drawings that were produced as individual images in the film. The film will also be screened in Venice. It reveals a series of highly suggestive sequences which are primarily connected to one another through their melancholy, mystical atmosphere, without creating a chronological story. We see sections of landscapes in which the natural movements of water, air, smoke, plants or living creatures flow one after another. Other shots depict human beings and the mechanical rhythms of man-made machines. Fragments of an interview with Robert Oppenheimer support the underlying dramatic composition up to its somber and poetic climax.
In the film, Milak attempts to explain certain aspects of the nuclear age – not at an explicitly political level as in his other works, but at an emotional, intuitive level. Ever since the beginning of his artistic career, Radenko Milak has pursued the question of how the media have influenced our memories of milestones, low points and great moments in the technological, political, societal and cultural developments of the modern era.
The artist devoted several years of work to the realization of this 13-minute film. The production took place in several different work processes: from the graphic level to the photographic processing to the digital phase, freedom and room to experiment was always important to him. The subtle soundtrack was composed by the Parisian pianist Gaël Rakotondrabe, whose credits include serving as musical director for Robert Wilson’s performance piece, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (2010-2013).
Radenko Milak was born in 1980 in Travnik in the former Yugoslavia and lives Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He studied at the arts academies in Banja Luka and Belgrade. His works have been presented in international solo and group exhibitions and included in prestigious collections such as the Folkwang Museum (Essen), Art Collection Telekom (Bonn), Agnès B. (Paris) and the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo). In 2017, his work appears in the Bosnia and Herzegovina pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.