"If you lie to me, you fight for naked existence" - Exhibition "False Pain" by Simonida Rajčević in the Art Gallery

August 11, 2020 | Ivana Nedeljković

"That pain can be false, we see throughout human history...", says the artist.

The paintings on the canvas of Simonida Rajčević draw us into the antagonism of the meaning of the aesthetic as an operative, but also an unstable concept in art today, especially contemporary art. A state of human calmness or indulgence around when the images from the previous cycle Strange Waves were created , in the new exhibition False Pain grows into a state of vulnerability. Through canonized artistic scenes of committed violence that testify to the history of human brutality, the archetypal pain is there to move the body that does not react and the victim that gives up. This distance from the usual manifestations of affective experience in the world we live in or the suspension of our own sensory experiences due to the experience of something that carries with it the potential of general or common represent the notion of aesthetics in its ancient meaning of human experience. However, what prevents such an aesthetic experience from being realized through the liberating experience of a common understanding of the world is precisely the lie that introduces antagonism into the contemporary meaning of the concept of the aesthetic .

What, in fact, is false in the painful awakening of humanity through the painted scenes of tortured parts of the human body? Are they individual, alienated experiences of pain or a collective notion of what that pain is? Or is it false what pain should bring us through art? Can pain at all give us the pleasure of liberation through tragedy as Aristotle claims as the highest art form that brings catharsis? Or perhaps this catharsis has over time become an affective lie that speaks not of experiencing social and political reality, but of one’s own, escapist uneasiness within it?


In front of us are images through which the sacred scenes of martyrdom from the past are sensed and overlap with the bright colors and dominantly present human outlines of the bodies of the present time. Through the universal body of the white modern man, the outlines of the tortured bodies of El Greco's Jesus (on the canvas of the Holy Trinity ) and Saint Sebastian, Caravaggio's severed head of Goliath ( David with Goliath's head ) and the nailed hand of St. Peter ( Crucifixion of St. Peter ) are copied . Zurbaran 's scene of Jesus as the Lamb of God ( Agnus Dei), which takes on all human sins, appears on a canvas on which the universal male body - as opposed to Jesus' zoomorphic, laid-back and passive body - is coded differently. In this painting, the last in the cycle, we see hands ready to fight, to defend the victim, hands that, in the end, lead us to Bruce Lee, the invincible icon of 20th century pop culture. The layered meanings of these images live their historicization through pain that emerges over and over again as a palimpsest, transforming archetypal violence into mechanisms of world domination.

Scenes of universal suffering, suffering and pain of humanity that alternately fade and then re-emerge from the past in times of crisis, conflict and war, appear in Simonida Rajčević's paintings in fragments, like metonymic images and relationships through which a logical connection with the suffering of modern man in the global neocolonial capitalism. The body of today's homo econimicus-and which itself produces systemic products is driven by bright and fluorescent colors, historical narratives of suffering and its own vulnerability in the world in which it lives alienated. Stopped at the moment of twitching, the dominant body of today becomes an aggressive means of manipulating and managing pain. In the universal coding of pain, today's global society has also emerged, which exploits, punishes, dehumanizes, and also consistently implements violence against what deviates from its perfect uniform image of the world. The fragmented structure of the body that awakens and reassembles, in other words, says that our global civilization has always been and still is: Eurocentric, white, Christian and patriarchal. Built and disciplined through the repetitive renewal of violence, this civilization indicates to us the impossibility of erasing the basic.


Within the exhibition, there is also an oversized sculpture of Bruce Left's fighting hands, which indicates the ambient exceeding of the two-dimensional space of the painting, but also its meaning through the fiction of ultimate strength and uncompromising struggle. In a slightly different position than in the picture, the arms are placed in zero degree of both attack and defense. With these hands, identification from any position is possible, because victory over the ultimate evil is not in question, so attack and defense are allowed. However, it is clear that this iconic figure of Bruce Lee was created in the sphere of pop culture, which was built, like the previous ones, by the same structural mechanisms of a colonizing or globalizing society.

Transmitting or delegating one's own pleasure in overcoming violence to fiction, mass culture, or objects speaks to an interpassive experience of freedom that is actually false, as is the pain with which we identify before the very act of victory. The embodied sensuality, the state of vulnerability, and the feeling of pain are left, in that way, to the interpassive experience of the world, which in this case is aware of its lies. However, new aesthetic potential of images depicting parts of tortured humans but animal bodies can be seen in that consciousness. If we can imagine that potential, a hybrid figuration of a completely different monstrous body will show us - as Rosi Braidotti puts it. which, in its continuous vulnerability, torture, and oppression, offers resistance and fights for the emergence of new materialist cartography of a better world. The question that the exhibition leaves us with is: Can we even imagine that world with some other, from the perspective of a global man, 'monstrous' body that offers us other, perhaps real emotions outside the existing global archetypes of today's civilization?

Here you can read the interview with the artist about this unique exhibition:

https://www.blic.rs/kultura/ako-me-lazes-boris-se-za-golu-egzistenciju-izlozba-lazni-bol-simonide-rajcevic-u/gn3zvqg

Here you can visit the virtual exhibition:

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=b2Z6XKGAJfM

Opening date: 6th August 2020
Closing date: 27th August 2020
Location: Kulturni Centar Beogara (Belgrade's Cultural Centre), Trg Republike 5 /  Kneza Mihaila 6, Belgrade (Serbia)



"I woke up this morning Totally alone, boring I poured out some coffee And I had a smoke I looked outside the window I saw people walking around But not talking to each other So I was like Where am I living? I put on my shoes I walked down the street I was walking down the avenue And I was dancing."

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