Hidden Nature: Interview with Darko Vuckovic

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Talent is a good advantage, but it brings us to our goal only if nurtured through constant work.

Vuckovic was born in Podgorica, Montenegro and graduated from Faculty of Fine Arts in Cetinje in 2001, in the class of professor Dragan Karadzic, painting department.

From 1999 to 2000, he attended L’ecole Superrieure d’Art du Grenoble, France, where he started to experiment in computer-generated imagery, photography and experimental sound.

In 2012, he completed specialized studies, painting department, at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, in the class of professor Zoran Vukovic. He has been a member of ULUCG (Association of visual artists of Montenegro) since 2002.

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The Heraldry of Nature (Imprints and Traces)

Every shape in the visible nature, the smallest as well as the biggest, is revealed as harmony. 

The Māori from Polynesia had the word “mana” for expressing the unity of things, the strong feeling that life is a unity in which not only gods, people and all living things partake, but also things that to us seem dead. “Mana” thus represents an immediate experience of the “sacred force that permeates life”. All of their art is filled with spirals as visual displays of the force. They were engraved into wood and stone, painted, or even tattooed on the body. One can find identical spiral motives in many other parts of the world, some originating from prehistoric times.

In nature we find the spiral movement in the structure of the DNA molecule, as well as in the spiral galaxies. The “murmur” of the cosmos is expressed through shape, just as fine sand placed on a string instrument makes precise geometric shapes when one plays a tone.

György Doczi, a Hungarian architect from the early 20th century, discovered the same mathematical laws at the basis of architecture, the elements of landscape, the anatomy of humans, animals and plants, the tone scale, the rhythm in poetry, prompting him to introduce the concept of a dynergic pattern“.

The displayed works have a common thread. They represent different imprints of the universal energy flow, which is visible just partly. This energy weaves tirelessly behind the curtain of the material world, maintaining it and driving it. The idea once obsessed J. W. Goethe (Essay on the plant), and later Rudolf Steiner when he speaks about the active spiritual reality, deeming it the cause of what we perceive with our outer senses. The wide field of his work and his views had a profound impact on art: the works of Kandinsky, and later Joseph Beuys, among others.

Occasionally, the hidden, dynamical and changeable nature finds its artistic expression and displays itself in physical form. That is why I consider myself only as a formal author of these works.

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When and how were you first introduced to working with ceramics?

I started doing ceramics about ten years ago. Considering I received a degree in painting, the main techniques of my artistic expression were drawing, painting, photo collages. A set of circumstance led to my sharing a studio with some sculptors. This was a decisive factor for my gradual shift to ceramics and getting to know its secrets. Ceramics enabled me to add a third dimension to the visual images I created. I was and still am fascinated by the possibilities it offers, which are practically inexhaustible.

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What inspires your work?

Inspiration is something that is in my case spontaneous, which arrives the moment I start communicating with the material, in this case with clay.

There are certain conditions that have a positive effect on achieving a required state of sensitivity when creativity can be expressed in the proper way.

Frequent trips to nature contribute to this state. The rhythms of nature and its changes are somewhat similar to the rhythms of the forms I create. My forms are organic and changeable, almost natural.

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What is your process like when you start a new sculpture?

In most cases, I don’t have a clear idea and plan about what I wish to accomplish because I want to leave open the possibility of a surprise.

I allow the forms to change by their own inner rhythm and impulse. This is probably the main reasons why the technique has been holding my interest for so long. Later, after the first round of baking clay, some additional effects are made with texture and glaze, making it even more interesting. Sculptures are often baked multiple times in a row until the desired effect is achieved.

Below is the link for my short film on clay and an ancient method of sculpture making. The film was screened at the AVI Fest - Short Film Festival 2017, where it won the first prize.

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Who are some artists that inspire you?

It used to be Hieronymus Bosch and Flemish painters. Afterward, surrealists like Max Ernst, the metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico, but also M.C. Escher.

As for sculptures, I am most fascinated by the sculptures by Joan Miro and some works by Joseph Beuys.

These are the artists whose work always leaves an impression on me.

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What has been the most challenging aspect of your career thus far? How did you overcome it?

The greatest challenge is persisting in doing what one loves. It isn’t always easy. It means not compromising what one considers truly worthy of doing. Like the moment I left my steady office job as a graphic designer so I would have more time for my artwork. It often means entering a zone of economic instability. These decisions bring many questions, doubts, and dwellings, and one needs to learn how to cope with that. It becomes easier as time goes by.

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What would you say your greatest strength is as an artist?

For me, art is something that gives meaning even at times when we cannot find it in our surrounding, in the outer world. The fact itself is encouraging and gives strength and motivation. For me, that is enough.

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Do you have a piece of advice you have received that you would like to share with our readers?

There is good advice in the tale about Aladdin. It says that if you rub the lamp long enough, a genie will appear. The lamp represents us and our unnurtured talents. This means that if we are persistent and focused, results are inevitable. Talent is a good advantage, but it brings us to our goal only if nurtured through constant work.