Joseph Brennan, 2011

The Metaphysics of Landscape

Posted: 21 Aug 2011  |  By: Joseph Brennan

In Archaeologies of Place and Landscape, Julian Thomas considered landscape to be a complex concept with a meaning that reached beyond mere terrain and topography. Anthropologist Eric Hirsch had a similar view, arguing in Landscape: Between Place and Space for the metaphysical conditions of the landscape as the backdrop for human life — and as such, incorporating “a relationship between a lived reality and a potential for other ways of being”. Believing it more than object or land fragment, Thomas described the landscape as carrying “a series of resonances”: of alienation and liberation, of sensuous experience and coercion, of aspiration and inequality. And on those working with landscape, Thomas believed the challenge to be in ‘holding’ these elements in a “productive tension, rather than hoping to find a resolution”.

Not only does Miodrag Jankovic seem to appreciate this idea of landscape as a complex experience, but his project Elements appears to concern itself primarily with holding rather than resolving the form’s tensions. Or as artist Michael Berry suggests in Elements, “the landscape as a prime source of enchantment and simultaneously as an unruly chaotic force” inspires Jankovic’s “artist as pathfinder” approach to capturing “the daunting and humbling power of nature”. “Spending time in the landscape is spending time with the universe,” Jankovic said. “Feeling the source of life penetrating the senses.” From the familiar tones of daybreak and nightfall — in New Morning and Twilight Coming — to the formless, more abstract landscapes — such as Lost Land — there are allusions to mysteries and contradictions bound up in place. As Berry explains, in Jankovic’s “pictorial world harmony and disharmony pivot.

Considering that, etymologically, a landscape was a pictorial representation, and that landscape art has frequently been explained using a ‘frame’ or window metaphor — with art critic John Ruskin going so far as to consider it an aesthetic piety: a means by which the divine order (manifest in nature) could be captured in an artwork — it seems fitting that Jankovic attributes his entrance onto the art scene with a job he had in a picture framing workshop, where he handled original Australian contemporary artworks prior to their exhibition on gallery walls.

Serbian born, Jankovic migrated to Australia with his family in 1971. He debuted alongside two other painters at the former Powell Street Gallery, South Yarra, in 1985. On his debut, Gary Catalano, writing for The Agenewspaper, wrote that his works “embody a weight of personal feeling. They almost make sincerity a tangible thing.” He is represented by Charles Hewitt Gallery, Sydney; Gadfly Gallery, Perth; and in Melbourne by Without Pier Gallery and Manyung Gallery.