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carol heft “connections”: artist joskin shiljan, serbia

Artist Joskin Shiljan, Serbia

Like the aesthetic that characterizes much of the Art Brut, Tachisme and Cobra movements, Joskin Shilian’s work both delights and disturbs; it combines graphics, drawing, painting, and text into a universal language of symbol, rather than depiction.  Primary colors and black and white lines echo the luminosity of leaded borders in stained glass windows.  Elements of street art and graffiti are evident in both the scale and style of the artist’s work.

Subjects include sculpture and paintings of little animals, suggestive of Paleolithic stone figures, in their simple and direct expression. In one piece, ЦВЈЕТА, white border outlines encapsulate small vignettes and brightly colored bits of patterns. The letters and text serve both assign and compositional ideas. Intuitively organized, these works are often made up of parts, like a quilt or storyboard.

In a recent group, entitled FA-CE, the artist has drawn and painted on pages from a 1959 newspaper.  The marks take the form of personal pictographs or symbols and are distributed in a way that implies some sort of organization, but the nature of that organization remains cryptic.  The design is centralized in most of these; with a combination of geometric shapes, letters, ad textural marks.  The scale of text varies in relation to the scale of drawn and painted marks to create a feeling of compression and tension, which contrasts with the freedom and gestural nature of the inscriptions themselves.

Among the innovative and unusual aspects of his work,  Joskin sometimes displays work in traditional ways; on tree trunks outdoors, on exterior walls, in the sand on the beach.

Inspired by Arp, Шиљане куде ћеш? САМО НЕ ТАМ. (Silly, you’re going to go? I’m NOT alone.”) has a clear figure-ground relationship with whimsical figures both floating on and embedded in the surface. The self-assuredness in the marks, and a kind of awkward elegance mingle with the artist’s lively energy to make his work compelling and uplifting. Childlike sophistication, authenticity, and exuberance give Joskin Shilian’s work its magic.

Carol Heft is a New York City-based artist and educator. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and her work has been exhibited internationally. She teaches Drawing, Painting, and Art History at several colleges in New York and Pennsylvania, and is represented by the Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City.


joskin shiljan, serbia
joskin shiljan, serbia
joskin shiljan, serbia
mixed media
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