In her paintings on steel plates, images are copied with carbon copy paper from her vast and diverse collection of photographs, ranging from fashion magazines to found photographs and the artists own random photographs of sights and scenes that we remember through peripheral vision. These paintings are loaded with surreal scenes, with figures, objects and concrete, brutalist architecture that float in white undefined spaces. The architecture is reminiscent of Jelena’s home town, which was entirely destroyed during WW2 and rebuilt as a modernist utopian experiment, with inhabitants not able to cope with the challenges of new communal ways of living and pressure from ‘political and social mechanisms exerted upon them’. In particular, they express the difficulty for women to escape the stereotypical images of femininity and anxiety, resulting from the social pressure to conform to a masculine ethos. These dreamlike fragments are absurd, ironic, violent, melancholic, humorous and they are always shown in random groups from the ceiling to the floor of the exhibition space or rotating in groups of four on specially made posts.
Life Interest refers to the law term, where the survivor is given the right to live in the property for the rest of his or her life. For this exhibition, a space within the space, purposely made container, has become a setting for visitors to enter into this world of spectacle and as the artist would like to say ‘world of collective memory’. As Linda Nochlin points out seeing Jelena’s paintings in the Montenegrin pavilion at 51st Venice Biennale: ‘It is difficult to describe the effect of these paintings, or to say how their memorable strangeness is achieved: yet they have remained in my head ever since I saw them’.
Jelena Tomasevic lives and works in Podgorica, Montenegro. Her previous solo exhibitions include Galerie Perpetuel, Frankfurt, Artopia Gallery Milano, Center for Contemporary Art, Podgorica Montenegro, Galerie Conrads, Dusseldorf, Thrust Projects, New York and numerous group exhibitions including: Recycling Religion, White Box, New York, Wo das Grass gruner ist, Kunsmuseum Liechtenstein, Coexsistance, Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano, Farmers’ Market, Handel Street Projects, London, Sweet Little Dirty Things, Kultur Kontakt, Wienna, 9th Istanbul Biennial, curated by Rene Block, Inbetweeness, Montenegrin Beauty Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, In the Gorges of the Balkans, Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel and many others.