Rade Petrasevic (born 1982 in Vienna, also lives and works there) works within a figurative pseudo-narrative. At first glance it appears that he is generating this via motifs and indicators, seemingly stemming from a traditional stance in painting, inviting associations with classic modernity and at times with Japanese traditional genre Shunga. Petrasevic’s topics have been wrung out countless times, and it is particularly that universal amenability that spikes his interest in wielding clichés and stereotypes – all of this without abstaining from transformation to the point of (physical) distortion, sex and fetish. For, it is not the intimate idylls of an Édouard Vuillard and Nabis, it is not the intensely rich colors of Henri Matisse or the Fauves and it also isn’t the repetitive, content-laden sujets of Pablo Picasso, but the appropriation of their techniques, intentions and topics, revived in a contemporary and by all means jocular version. The artist’s numerous tattoos of the names of his predecessors furnish evidence of the exemplary effect they have had on him, and so does the selection of quotes that Rade Petrasevic has gathered for this exhibition.
The characteristic style of his oil paintings though could not be more unlike that of those forerunners: as if coarsely scrawled with fat marker, with the potent colors shimmering before the eyes of the beholder. Drawing clearly dominates his painting, with each presupposing the other in dense reciprocity. His emphasis on drawing, often degraded to being merely a draft for painting, states the artist’s wish to increase its significance. Correspondingly, it is on those fluidly preserved thresholds between the two media that his paintings work. Both, canvas and polyvinyl chloride (PEVA), pose equally as foundations for his oil. His works on synthetic material, of which standard shower curtains are made of, are prevalent at his exhibition at KOENIG2: a dozen of painted on sheets are hanging from steel ropes. Their gathers deny a usually thorough and serene sighting. The staging of the density of colors, forms and superimposed layers comes to the fore, just as the automatic revulsion that flares up, considering the material’s trait of cleaving to a wet body. This haptic property, the selection and arrangement of the works in the show all omit a narrative, for an explicit and assertive lack of stories and novellas in his body of work. Which is only being amplified by the abstractly painted tiles, on which form is solely addressed on account of their own square profile.
Nonetheless, the title reveals a dormant issue: I don’t think she is a woman refers to an Interview that Rupert Everett gave the British Times in 2016, in which the homosexual actor and author openly spoke about his, however, by now antiquated, childhood dream of being a woman. Simultaneously he has brusquely stated that transgender athlete and TV-personality Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as William Bruce Jenner, should – just as he did – get over it, claiming that she was “not a woman” but a “cross-dressing man”. This is not an isolated incidence, reminding of i.e. last year’s affair during an Interview at Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, also involving Caitlyn Jenner. Since the affront towards the entire LGBTQIA+ community, consisting of Morgan laughing about Jenner’s sex change during the interview in question, Morgan is being fiercely criticized. Bodies and nudity are unquestionably becoming progressively important to Rade Petrasevic. His probing into issues such as sex, homosexuality, kitsch, love, friendship and, ultimately, fetish transport his works into the 21st century.
Andrea Kopranovic, 2019