The Mediterranean Cycle or the Feast of the Sun

Jasna Barišić lives and works in Zadar. Born in Split in 1965, structural engineer by education, Jasna enjoys her complete freedom in painting. She paints intensively from 1991 and exhibits from year 2000. Jasna is one of co-founders of international art group the Connecting Art, the group that aims to discuss art and artists collaboration, while respecting cultural, age and art differences. This I find important in order to understand the poetics of the new paintings cycle entitled The Mediterranean, which was in a way announced at the 2006 exhibition by The Connecting Art group in Thessaloniki, named The Dialogs. The author then exhibited two paintings which explored – unlike her previous work – the chromatic charge to the limit of complete saturation of the surface; interpreting the given topic of dialog with two almost monochromatic mirrored images. She explained her view of dialog as ‘calm and positive intersection of different patterns exchanging their ideas’. That atmosphere is easy to be recognized in her most recent works.

The graphic axes in Jasna’s paintings are not expressed by the way of opposed abstract – figurative approaches, but rather in direct reading of painting values. Apart from acrylic paints, Jasna uses recycled paper and old wires in her paintings, as an ‘inexpensive’ art material which diverts attention from the not entirely explicit content to the endeavor of creating something beautiful out of the inexpensive. Her paintings therefore boast with rich texture which emphasizes material aspect of each particular canvas that often employ ‘bad’ or rejected materials, as a manner of perpetuation of the visual art heritage of the 20th century. Especially so in the cases of introvert authors who built their world from within, aiming to create art which is not based on objects. Hence the majority of Jasna’s canvases may also be observed as arrangement of form and color, as well as a landscape.

The author and her experience of Dalmatia mutually defined each other. It is common knowledge that we all are, more or less, defined by the world and region we were formed in. Numerous reminiscences of the spirit of Dalmatia can be found in the works of Jasna Barišić. But those reminiscences are not some misty shores she left behind long ago; they are rather revived enchantment that awakes ability to re-live the past again and again.

The Mediterranean cycle was incepted after authors return from California. The first works of the cycle were presented at the group exhibition held at the Museum of the City of Trogir, and at the Mediterranean Biennale held at the Milesi Palace in Split. The essence of the soil is suggested by the color and relief of the canvases, but Jasna’s Mediterranean paintings shows no blue or green! By the way of exploring approach to the light, while – at the same time – stressing the experience of subjective, the artist in her new cycle created tender, almost monochromatic paintings. It is an act of merging all her previous artistic cadences and motives.

The basic tone of the paintings spreads from warm grey to off-white. The accents are achieved by formed cells, black wire ‘nests’, and occasional red-yellow eruptions on certain canvases. Small, round, black prints are present in almost all of the canvases of the cycle, and they can be read as pebbles or as pure decadence at the same time. The composition of almost all of the canvases is one of vertical division to stripes defined either by direct horizontal strokes or change in the treatment of the surface. Joyful experience of space and color that spreads through the canvas in hymn resembling atmosphere is achieved by rhythmical connection of the composition tissue. Individual experience of her native Adriatic is transposed technique that provides glittering light; in this case it is the light of the summer afternoon sunlight reflected of the white stone so strong that it can ‘blind you to the extend of dizziness’. It is the light that dominates, subduing all the other shades of the nature. ‘I used to feel the intoxicating scent of sage we used to pick at the stone fields of the island of Pag. I remember the beauty of stone-piled walls and bare plots of land that can only nurture olive trees. I remember women in their black scarves in contrast to white rocks surrounding them’. These are the words of the author herself, describing the coloristic nature of her work that implies existence of subconscious as well as pure lyricism.

In her recent works, Jasna Barišić reduced the landscape almost to the sign, stretching its basic configurative and coloristic attributes to tonic painting defined by its compelling calmness, abstention and balance. This is the calmness of a focused observer, while under the surface of the paintings vibrates the life, the feast of sunlight and immense energy.

Darja Radović Mahečić, PhD, Art Historian