Exhibition – VicLeka project

Vik Godard and Aleksandar Mladenović Leka
July 10th - 18th, 2015 > Opening ceremony on July 10th, at 20h

“VicLeka” 

This exhibition is not first Leka’s commitment regarding British punk music: in 2012 he achieved production and exhibition of two large-format graphics inspired by songs: Vic Godard’s Subway Sect-Nobody’s Scared and VD The Prefects. The latest project that extends this existing creative dialogue. Once again Leka uses art graphics to develop the dialogue between word and pictures, song and vision, but this time on the exhibition which is a testament of friendship based on music, to which associated names in the project title, VicLeka. The project basis is a solid, black box and thus it serves to store a limited series of hand-drawn graphics. Each box contained a unique VikLeka set consisting of two parts: on the one hand, there are facsimiles of Vic Godard’s original songs, and on the other, a graphic printed pictorial performance in response to every single poem inspired by Leka. Vic and Leka chose songs according to the potential, and to generate a visual answer; the result is a selection that connects almost forty years of Vic’s musical career. Early Godard’s classics include Chain Smoking, Eastern Europeans, and Empty Sheel, as well as recent hits from 2010, Back in the community, Music of the Werewolf and Somewhere in the World. As the graphics depot box, in some way, the VicLeka archive also marks the time travel. This feeling of the past is captured in Godard’s handwritten texts of songs and their variable text formats, from the defiant cry of the punk youth soul, in which the verses are expressed on the page with capital letters as the self-confident word flows and rhymes: (Nobody’s Scared; Back in the Community; Watching the Devil), to the pages that are sketches and often illegible inscriptions (Zero Tolerance, (Oh All Right), Go on Then). There are also printed texts that look like improvisations; they are represented by their mistakes, crossings, combinations of arrows, brackets, and omissions; they look just like the original manuscript pages at the time of the song creation. Printed texts document the poet’s mood, and return us to the moment of creation, at the time when Vic Godard’s verses were originally written. Printed verses like the past; and printed images like the present. Various, eclectic, explosive, and subversive texts when released from the deep black box. The present time is the time of Leka’s graphics: every solution is completely new; everyone offers a contemporary visual answer to the humor and irony of Godard’s written words.

Often visual correspond to textual. For example, the VicLeka’s box of friendship is addressed to the same, scratched, undecided prose, creating a mimicry of the non-polishing intimate feeling of a personal diary. Inside the box, graphics form a whole, not a chapter. These are eclectic, hybrid works, iconographically imitating related punk art techniques: collage dependence, newspaper press, and photomontage. However, these paintings are made by the master of art graphics, who sought for the image equivalent of Godard’s music alchemy. He achieved this using the unique ability of media graphics to steal, patronize, connect, and merge. The graphics are the result of experimental processes masked in the shape of topnotch works. Screen printing, offset lithography, copper etching, aquatint, photo-polymeric deep printing, and linoleum is used separately successively in series or together. Some graphics use Godard’s song relics, manuscripts, newspaper articles, and photographs (Oh All Right); Back in the Community), thus working in tandem accompanied songwriting. Other images are knitting a network with a wide range of visual and text sources. Born to rebel graphics, represents the boy as a superhero, at the same time he is Batman and Superman, but at the same time complicated by the reference to Petrus Borel, taken from the poem, a young, obscure but also notorious rebellious little romanticist of the nineteenth century. A recognizable image is taken over and hidden by additional semantics (Chain Smoking). The relation between graphics and songs can be straightforward or obvious (Nobody’s Scared), sometimes apparent with creative freedom (Eastern Europeans). Leka doesn’t use all graphics interaction between the words and the picture, five graphics are completely visual, while some are made in painting mode (Empty Shell).

Floating in the graphics sub-structure, there are two important references to British art: the first one is in the initial form, William Hogarth (1698-1763), British artist and graphic artist whose famous works appear in series of graphics in groups of four, six, and eight, whose stories are directly based on London’s marginal life and hi coarse reality of prostitution, misery, drunkenness, detention, and illness. The second reference is David Hockney (born 1937), painter, draftsman, graphic artist, stage designer, and photographer-William Hogarth of the 21st century. What Hockney’s eclectic work contributes to the Hogarth series model is the interest in music, most clearly expressed in his frequent scenographic solutions for ballet and opera in which Hockney explores the concept of synaesthesia, in a research in which the artist chooses colors in response to practical sound, or because they visually stimulate the sensation that corresponds to the sensation of the musical sound. This interest in synesthesia or a creative experiment between what we hear and what we see lies in the heart of the VicLeka project. When these interests connect to the inventive graphics capabilities, the result is painful, ironic, and lucid art: the links between text and image are scattered, the clues become innumerable. They can be hammered through a line or form, or color, as a quote: a blue color-ton in Music of the Werewolf, followed by the blouse sounds.

Kate Grandjouan

“VicLeka” or THE RETURN OF SOUND IN VISUAL

Vic Godard is the leader, singer, guitarist, author of numerous reincarnations of the band Subway Sect, he is officially the postman. Sid Vicious learned the first three chords, he crossed the long musical path through jazz, swing, Northern soul, Latino sound, hip-hop. Britpop, up to rhythm and blouse. Godard is the songwriter, from the English class of the first order, with the warmth in the soul that is reflected in memorable melodies and particular poetry. The respectable author, good guitar, aesthetic social consciousness, and intellectual curiosity whose verses and music are gaining in weight and wealth over time. Everything he did, he made thanks to his work. He admits that the best thing that happened to him at the beginning of his career was the recent compliment of Vicious “teacher” on Radio One: The three best world bands are Abba, Ramones, and Subway Sect. Today he delivers mail in London, collaborates with the great writer Irwin Welsh and travels the world showing how punk can be reached in mature years.

Vic Godard’s (unlike Rotten, Vicious, and others) took this artistic name from Jean Lick Godard. It’s not strange if you have in mind that he is known as a connoisseur of the 18th and the 19th-century French literature and new wave films of the 60s. That’s why it’s worth mentioning Furney’s novel “The Great Mon”. This story of lost innocence and opportunities in which the main character lives his life trying to regain the long seized moments during a visit to a mysterious site. Magic, romance, frustration, and confusion is characterized by the novel, which is an anthem of youth days. The history of the Subway Sect is comparable to this Furnier’s novel. The story of the band is the saga of the youthful spell loss, the story of what could have been achieved, only that it was understood as it should.

Footnote: On Monday, September 20th, 1976 on the Club 100 scene just after Subway Sect, three other bands came, Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Clash. History was written. At the concert show (this was the first punk festival) Mark Perry from Sniffin’ Glue, praised Subway Sect as “true punkers”: Subway Sect first took upstage and immediately presented all the horrors of intellectual disgust. On the stage, they chewed gums and searched for freedom. Four presented songs were great.

This text is about the exhibition and self-publishing project of former punkers, paradoxically tireless dreamers from distant addresses. VICLEKA’s achievement, Vic Godard’s synergy, the London singer and author, 39 years after the  Subway Sect debut at the punk festival Malcolm McLaren in the heart of the London and Aleksandar Mladenović Leka, the professor at the Graphics Department of Belgarde FLU, is more than a creative meeting. This is an authentic dialogue about punk rock as an artistic movement that was not well appreciated in its time, whose legacy around the world raises many questions.

It went by chance. Correspondence between musicians and supporters has grown into cooperation. In 2006, Leka exposed hybrid works on large-format screens with portraits of those who always loved (listened) him. Among the other “traces of childhood” was Vic’s character. Later they met over the internet, and in 2011 they met personally in Viena. In his way, Leka made a cover for “Live + Rare, vol2”. The work was fully supported by Vic’s idea of “the spirit edition”. Such an unusual acquaintance gets a new dimension. After the project “Early Punk and Hybrid Graphics” (2012, Belgarde), where Leka received a doctorate, and for the leitmotif, he took the song “Nobody’s Scared” by Subway Sect. Thorugh the exhibited works, Vic has presented a long-standing search for the visibility of punk chords. Now, Leka is stepping up with Godard, proving how authentic open-minded pioneers are. Over the years, Vic acquired his authorial term, such as Leka, focused on the exploration of the punk movement art, reached the authentic visualization of poetry and music without losing social and temporal context.

VICLEKA is the project of 12 selected Godard’s songs, which Leka responded with graphics. Vic’s handwritten texts are also printed and packed in the special wooden box with 12 diphthongs (song text/picture). The circulation is limited to 12 boxes, art boxes (6 yellow and 6 black). For his part, Godard adds the CD release (Gnu Records), a 12 song compilation, which is inspired by the Project with 50 copies.

The original punk concept was based on do-it-yourself art. Its uniqueness was shown in design to shock and surprise. That characterized the beginning of the seventies. Revolutionism of this approach and style still lives in some illogical places influencing the appearance, music, fashion, and attitude.

Regardless of the taste, we can agree, that many philosophical and several modern artistic directions influenced the punk culture. Anarchism is the most visible, especially at the very beginning. The critique of culture and strategy for the revolutionary action of the 1950s and later offered “Situationist International” had a huge impact on the founders of the British punk movement, especially the creators around Sex Pistols. Nihilism also had its influence on the development of the punk improvidence, through angry, strange, and sometimes gloomy characters. Marxism gave punk some revolutionary zeal. The relation between punk rock and popular music has a clear parallel with dadaistic disrespect for high art projects. Futurism is focused on speed, conflicts, and raw power has enriched punk culture in many ways. Minimalism has provided punk with simple style. We can also find punk sources in pop art. Andy Warhol and his Factory played a major role in building the foundations for what will soon become a New York punk scene. Pop art also influenced the appearance of visual punk art. We must not forget the later influence of postmodernism.

For the musical and social movement that he carved on the face of every kind of authority and did not dare to spit on his supporters, punk was never sufficiently carefully treated. After the initial wave overwhelming and admiration there is not much new and important to say about music, clothes, media, scandals, and legendary performances, but the graphic expression and the artistic trail of the movement never reached the center of professional attention.
Punk “as the subculture based on music” was made up by kids of working-class searching for fun, used many subversive tactics that were applied by members of earlier avant-garde movements: unusual fashion; erasing boundary between art and everyday life; comparing the different objects and behaviours; intentionally provoking the audience; abuse of naked performances; drastic reorganization of accepted styles and actions. That is why punk was always more watched by emotional than aesthetic performances. However, to say that punk does not imply the experience of art is a great mistake.

That’s why the VICLEKA project requires attention. The winner of numerous international and national awards for graphics again is confirmed as a true punk artist at the same time a poetic and music master of sophisticated sensibility. He is the creator who loves as a fan, respects as a professor with great skill, and walks towards unknown as an artist. Loyal to the restrained expression reduces to the basis of reality fragments, and by the rules of grey shades, which he can break with warm colors, Leka gives Vic’s poetics an accurate spectrum of the urban landscape. All the time he cares about the documentary, public, and at the same time common in our more alienated world. And the documentary is “the proof of being”, as the sage says.

Beggars can’t be choosers but artists have to search. The Vic-Leka dialogue is a great audio-poetic-graphic scream for punk harmony that is missing from the ignorant and supernatural, but at the same time step forward from the molded roads into music and visual media for devotees and believers without the church.

        Petar Peca Popović