Serbian, 20th century.
Born 1932 Radobiljici, Macedonia; died 2003, Despotovac, Serbia.
The constant awareness of pain and suffering, whether physical, psychological, or existential, defines the work of Vojislav Jakic. It is a central theme of his 1970 semi-fictional autobiography, Homeless (Nemanikuce) and has found physical form in his early carved wood sculptures which incorporated skulls and bones, and is made graphically manifest in his sometimes massive drawings in ballpoint pen, crayons, and gouache on scrolls of paper which frequently depict ill-defined organic forms, monstrous embryonic beings, and swarming insects. In the most densely drawn works, overlapping and interpenetrating images of heads, insects, and animals compete in tightly packed compositions that leave little room to determine stable ground or depth. The works can be immense, many meters wide, yet the precisely drawn minute images animate the entire ground, suggesting an inescapable horrific, symbolic commentary on personal and contemporary life.
Jakic was the son of an Orthodox priest from Montenegro who moved his family to Macedonia where Jakic was born. At age three, the child moved with his family to a small town in Serbia, where Jakic would spend most of his life, but would sense social antagonism resulting in part from the widespread tensions among the ethnically distinct peoples and regions
within Yugoslavia, as well as antagonism to his father’s profession in the post-WWII socialist state. But Jakic was perhaps most haunted by death. At a very young age he lost both an elder sister and a younger brother to illness, and after his father died, the young Jakic lived in extreme poverty with his mother. Recognized early as an artist, he earned money by painting portraits of deceased villagers for their mourning families. Jakic went to art school in Belgrade in 1952 to study painting and sculpture, but inconsistently attended to his studies and after the failure of plans for exhibitions he returned home in 1957 to live with his mother. In 1962, he married for a short time, after which he returned again to life with his mother.
Jakic was a prolific artist, creating many thousands of drawings united by a distraught and often bitter sensibility challenging both the artist and his viewers. Fittingly, one of his works bears the inscription: “This is neither a drawing nor a painting but the sedimentary deposit of suffering.”
- Charles Russell
2018, Turbulences dans les Balkans, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris
2016, World Made By Hand, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York
2008, Centre Culturel de Serbie, Paris
2005, Dubuffet & Art Brut, traveling exhibition, Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, Germany; Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne; Museum of Modern Art Lille Metropole, Villeneuve-D'ascq, France
2001, Tenth International Biennial of Naïve and Marginal Art, Museum of Naive and Marginal Art, Jagodina, Serbia: Grand Prix for Exhibited Works
1979, Vojislav Jakic, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Musée d'art moderne Lille Métropole, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
Museum Charlotte Zander, Bönnigheim, Germany
Museum of Naive and Marginal Art, Jagodina, Serbia
Dubuffet & Art Brut, exhibition catalogue, 5 Continents & Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, 2005.
The End is Near!: Visions of Apocalypse, Millennium and Utopia, exhibition catalogue, American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, 1998.
Vojislav Jakic, exhibition catalogue, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, 1979.
Publications de la Collection de l’Art Brut, fascicule 10, Lausanne, 1977.