Looking at Damir Sokić's overall oeuvre, it is immediately evident that a great number of works was made by using geometric forms and structures. Starting in the mid-1970s, he has been shaping his works in a certain rhyhtm up to this day. The specific morphology, however, was not followed by a specifically defined media component, or (related to this fact and even more important) by a specific content component of the work. Instead, when discussing Sokić, it is better to talk about concepts. In other words, the neutral geometric language, materialized through drawing, painting, relief, objects, ambients or just by composing the already made industrial products, was the optimal tool for Sokić to communicate different contents and attitudes which are – it is important to point out – always tied to art. Hence, in the process of choosing the visual idiom which was key in the conceptualization of art as an autonomous practice, we can also find a symbolic gesture from a time when the role of true revolutionaries was taken by aggressive pseudo-activists, spreading around the globe like taxifolia. With his clear references to Mondrian or Malevich, Sokić is trying to preserve the ideas of modern and avant-garde art, to save it from the superficial banalization by entitled activists who circle the world offering week-long solutions to local communities, for the period of their residence, or after one workshop with the natives. Very calculated, they have perfectly adapted to the dominant rules of the game and, like marketing professionals, use their kosher art products to fulfill their clients' needs. The results of their research (as travelling weekend-sociologists / psychologists / anthropologists / politologists / urbanists / historians / curators... pretentiously like to call their work), are mostly analogue to their competences and their effort. Considering his personal intellectual and artistic genesis, it is no wonder that Sokić finds neoliberal realism equally repulsive as the one that evokes 'traditional' artistic and spiritual values. Finally, aren't his pretty, poetic and correct sentences – forming certain statements or incorporated into works - the exact opposites to the popular 'new speech', this irritating cross between political correctness and corporative philosophy that rule the art discourse.

If the whole history of art, as Sokić puts it, is one huge, available repository which finds adoption to be a legitimate operational process, treating existing artifacts and concepts as a sort of a ready-made, then a specific choice (in Sokić's case this includes Mondrian, Malevich, Duchamp, Modernism, Avant-garde and arte povera) doesn't just represent the referential framework. A tale with a repository, a list of adopted items and the way of handling this carefully chosen content tell us of a sworn modernist, completely aware of the new context which always carries the 'post-' prefix. In this, seemingly unsurpassable contradiction, Sokić found a space for freedom: „I don't really have the need to be original“, since „there are no innocent artists. Fuck innocence“. From this artistic repository, Sokić sometimes borrows an idea and places it into his handwork or an object that he found. Sometimes he takes a finished form, and sometimes his eternal fundus becomes a trigger for establishing unusual associative relationships.

Although this is basically a conceptual approach to art, Sokić always felt the need for the „body“, be it hand-made or ready-made. Initially, for example, he used ceramic tiles to form geometric structures, not following any aesthetic criteria but, according to the spirit of primary and analytic art, he highlighted the process and the material aspect of the work. Later, he would adopt Mondrian's neoplastic motif and apply it to paintings, objects, and even whole ambients. His intention was not to copy or further analyze Mondrian's postulates. With a casual (sometimes even subversive) way of quoting the recognizable visual symbol, he pointed to the process of transforming the once progressive art ideas into sheer ornament and art convention. The eclectic and critical character of his work was confirmed by his repeated quoting of Malevich's Suprematism composition. A series of work that was created in 2016 was titled Geometries and is an intimate dedication to a unique era in the history of the human spirit. Of course, it is the Modernist era and one of its trademarks - geometric art. Observing them, our minds evoke the paintings of the already mentioned artists as well as the weightless facades and free blueprints of modern architecture. There was a good reason why Sokić compared his work on geometries to playing music with first-grade scores.

Božo Majstorović

Damir Sokić was born in Nova Gradiška in 1952. He graduated from painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, class of prof. Nikola Reiser in 1977. He attended the Masters Workshop by prof. Ljubo Ivančić and prof. Nikola Reiser from 1977 to 1979. He lived and worked in New York in the period between 1986 and 1993, and he started teaching at te Academy of Fine Arts Zagreb in 2000. He received the „Vladimir Nazor“ award in 2013.

On view till 31. August, 2019