Vladimir Veličković first moved from Belgrade to Zagreb to take up a position in the State's studio, led by Krsto Hegedusic. By the early 1960s he had defined his oeuvre, his artistry vividly influenced by the war-torn environment the young man was raised in. His sharp and defined lines depicting torn bodies of humans and animals was a definition that was later to become a signature. This formation composes tormented figurations, often of men facing violent situations. These situations he deems as a 'harsh reality', nevertheless a reality that he believes strongly that is not to be shied away from. The figurations also include animals, which can be seen as symbolic representations and express a deep understanding of philosophy. Furthermore, the symbols echo the division caused by culture all too familiar to the artist. Effectively this culture is remembered today, although no longer idolised, the artist ensures the effects of these ideologies are not forgotten. Owed to these layers of philosophical and aesthetical mastery the artist became renown for and that would later set him apart from his peers.Read More
In 1963, the Museum of Modern Art in Belgrade held his first ever solo exhibition. Representing the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the architect from Belgrade was awarded the first prize for painting at the 1965 Paris Biennale ('Biennale des Jeunes'). With this success the artist achieved public acclaim and subsequently relocated to the city that is still regarded to this day as the centre of the art world. He received international recognition along with two other notable artists from Yugoslavia, 'Dado' and 'Lubja'.
The Galerie du Dragon, in Paris exhibited his artworks in 1967 by which time his work had already begun to be revered by academic scholars and respected art critics. He became a leading figure of the Narrative figuration art movement, a movement that returned figurative artwork to the forefront in Paris. By 1983 and until the year 2000, Vladimir Veličković took the position of professor at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was later elected at the Academy of Fine Art in 2005. Meanwhile in 1998, he was appointed the rank of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, which notifies his significant contribution to French cultural heritage. Finally, the Knighthood of the Legion of Honor–the highest decoration in France–was awarded to him in 2007.
Although for Veličković, Paris was merely a professional, geographic displacement. The city certainly has suited him. A senior, established artist and member of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has always felt close to Belgrade, his home and praises his native city, observing its slow and steady progress. In his seniority, Veličković towers over both Paris and Belgrade, with one foot in central Europe and another in the Eastern block, always retaining stability.
One could say the artist's work is a 'reconnoitre' of dynamic figuration, both human and animal forms, seemingly shifting through un-see-able dimensions. Barren landscapes play host to the Veličković's reality of violence. Torn bodies faced with their aggressors, confronting symbolic animal figures, wrestling with the impending terror that is ever-present, always painted with muted hues of grey, black and red, a palette of which acts to emphasise the desired level of turmoil and recognition.
Questioning the direction of Western painting, in the wake of cubism, for approximately half a century, Veličković began to pursue retribution to the absence of the human figure. As a kind of propitiation to ancient tradition his artistry seems to pay homage and yet never fully submits itself to academia.
Text courtesy A2Z Art Gallery.
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