Nude Maya 1980 & Serbian Maiden 1990

Predrag Nešković
November 15th - December 1st, 2012

What connects Serbian Maiden and Nude Maya, one is dressed the other one nude? The correct answer is Peđa Nešković.

Both girls are great heroines of “high art”, both international and local. But both are personalities from candies, needlepoints, stamps, porcelain souvenirs, self-service plates, cups, trays, cassettes, packages of cheap cosmetics and a restaurant company.

Naked Maya is the first act in the history of art that shows pubic hair and for which the Spanish painter (author) was invited to an informative conversation with the Church Inquisition. The picture is the beginning of the modern era and later the enormous role of technical reproduction. A similar reproductive fate within the narrow phantasm of the Serbian national order will also have the Serbian Maid by Predić, the most famous visualization of the heroine of our national poetry.

Both inhabit those tireless fantasies in which seamlessly connect male fantasies and patriarchal order. But these images have become prehistoric, they occupy a space of nostalgic sentimentalization, although their origin is completely different. Maya is a provocative painting, a product of early modern age, an expression of artistic freedom. The Serbian Maid is an expression of the petrification of a national myth, a dream of the pre-modern identity and the virtue of sacrifice. Nevertheless, both have become iconic for what is called kitsch.

Nešković repeated both motifs in his painting in many versions since the mid-seventies. This greatest demystifier of Serbian art, always driven by the relentless necessity of confrontation with the dominant spirit, tirelessly collects and processes those motifs that make up the playful mocking aesthetics of that spirit. He neither laughed nor relativized them, revealing them as the symbolic nodes of the inherited imaginary, which continues to reproduce. His art reveals that it is possible to maintain a dignified distance at the same time, but still to his throat immersed in the space and time in which he lives and whose phenomena he carefully watches and processes, and always gently ironizes them.

Branislav Dimitrijević