menu
essay about authorbibliographyartist's influences
GERA URKOM
country
Ex Yugoslavia
period
1968-1989

 Gera Urkom is a member of Belgrade informal group of authors (Marina Abramović, Era Milivojević, Neša Paripović, Zoran Popović and Raša Todosijević) who, in the environment of dominant moderate modernism, radicalized and expanded the understanding of a work of art, emphasizing the performativity and the possibility of dematerialization of a work of art, and rejecting the notion of art as an aesthetic value. Although the members of Nova umjetnička praksa (The New Artistic Practice) mainly used new media and brought the social context in their work, from his beginnings Gera Urkom focused on the autonomous artistic problems that he elaborated in detail. Outside the currents of modernistic formalism as defined by Greenberg, but also outside the referentiality within the painting medium, Urkom emphasizes abstract thinking, a form (which is for him identical to the content) as the essence of art, and experiences art as a mental object, and the pre-idea as the essence of a work of art. He explains his working principles and the way of abstracting in words "what exists in time, in one process in nature is also represented in another space and process of consciousness, where it now exists independently of the processes and changes in nature."

In the mid-sixties he paints simplified motives of nude or portrait (The red portrait of Nietzsche wearing a mask, 1969), using mostly red background and reducing the colors completely. This approach leads him to monochrome painting where Urkom "tries to make meaningful and not to paint a painting". His monochromes reflect a unique artistic idea, properly presented with an equable painting surface.
 
In 1970's he applies mental interventions to other media, and in 1971 in art piece Šest minuta sata snimljeno Xeroxom (Six Minutes of the Hour As recorded by Xerox), he takes away the primary functions of both the clock and the photocopier, using their work as a means of recording the work of the other (according to Jasna Tijardović – one machine recorded the work of the other). In the same period he integrates everyday objects into his works (Kutija sa štipaljkama i slajdovima – A box with pegs and slides from 1971).
 
After returning from London (where he went in 1973), in 1977 he exhibits triptychs in Belgrade Student cultural center, affirming the so-called interlayer of a painting – the middle part presents the finished painting, while the final parts present the process of arriving at the final stage (there are lines on those final parts that connected give the final, central painting). According to Ješa Denegri in these paintings "there is no manifestation of pictorial or expressive intentions, but the essence of their meaning lies in the nature of mental propositions on which these works are based."
 
In the eighties Urkom introduces objects as motives. While in the tripartite Indicative Proposition from 1980 he draws pencil strokes in the upper right corner of the painting to later cover its surface with a transparent layer; in other artworks from that period the upper right corner of the monochroms become recognizable object motif.
 
The objects Defamilirizicija jabuke (Defamiliarization of an Apple) from 1991 consist of large constructions within which the brush strokes are applied directly onto the gallery wall, whereat, according to Urkom, "the construction makes the object, and the stroke in the middle represents the painting".
 
In 2002 the artist began to use the pattern of the heads of primates, using its linear features that multiplied and inverted form a number of illegible lines without beginning or end (Inverzije – Inversions, 2002).
 
Urkom explains the basis of his art with the term noem. Derived from the concept noumen, a negative form of Kant's term phenomenon, that signifies perceptively comprehended empirical phenomena, noem implies the invisible, inconceivable and unlimited – a mental image that is opposite to the concrete object.
 
Gera Urkom was born in Skorenovac in 1940. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1969. He lives in London.
J. Bubaš