Article Written by Alexander Greco
April 16, 2019
I had the opportunity to chat online with Dusko Rokvic, a self-taught artist from Novi Sad, Serbia, after seeing his work online. Despite never talking to Dusko before this, we quickly became engaged in a brief but meaningful conversation about his artwork and his thoughts on art.
“Painting is not a car and owner park[ed] in front of his big house and many people can see his money [and] power,” he told me. “Art is something individual… for free people.”
Dusko talked with me about materialism, and the effect that living in a consumerist culture has on a person. Often, it seems like we live in a restrictive culture, where stepping out of the social norm, or not achieving a high enough socio-economic status can be looked down upon. Are people in a consumer-based society truly living free lives, or are they participants in blind materialism?
In this painting, I see the gray and rust-orange of abandoned steel girders in a city, with a pale, polluted sunset behind it, and an angry pit of hunger at the center of it all. Is this Dusko’s vision of materialism? Some industrial pit of greedy wallets and blank checks?
“This world deformed us in[to] material people… life without idealism will just be material form.”
Dusko’s art shows us an eerie twist on identity, with images of distorted faces, mask-like appearances, and split personas. Are these the true identities of people? Are these the identities that have been deformed by the society around them? And what are these internal identities made of?
Are they principled people? With their own morals and ideals? Do they have admirable goals in life?
Or are these people animals from the shopping-mall zoos? Are these people penned up in cages of status and belongings? Are these the people who never bite the master’s hand, so long as the hand keeps feeding?
Dusko summed this sentiment up with one question, “How much are we free today?”
Dusko freely allowed me to use his art in this article, and made a point to tell me he didn’t want any money involved in this collaboration at all. Dusko told me that art “is for real rebels,” and disregarded the notion of expensive, high-society art.
Dusko’s goal is not to create art for easy-consumption, but to challenge others to think for themselves.
“My style is abstract expressionism… I want to push people to thinking… to wake up feelings… to thinking behind the reality.”
There is a depth that Dusko creates by layering different colors and patterns of paint onto the canvas. These layers of colors, patterns and textures parallel Dusko’s ideas about reality. There is a tension between the external, physical reality we’re surrounded by, and our own internal reality—a reality of emotions, thoughts, and perceptions.
In Dusko’s paintings, he shows the stacking of different realities on top of each other—such as the stacking of materialism and idealism, or the stacking of different identities. As I went through Dusko’s art, I began to wonder how many layers there were in our psyche, how these layers might affect our personality and our identity.
How deep does our psyche go? And how much of our psyche do we ignore?
At the core of Dusko’s work is an exploration of the phenomenological world, the layer of reality our conscious experience resides in, which often feels like a lonely or isolated world in our society.
Despite the vast improvements in global standards of living, and despite vast increases in global wealth, something still seems to be missing in the lives of modern humans. We still can’t satisfy our desires, and we can’t stop ourselves from sliding back into violent conflicts.
Beyond the intentions of his pieces, it was clear in our conversation, and from what I saw of the artist online, that Dusko loves making art—the process, the creation, and the techniques he’s adopted from his influences (Pollock, Mark Rothko, Gerard Richter, Amadeo Modigliani, and Ilija Basicevic Bosilija). Despite exploring the darker sides of consumerism in his work, I sensed a genuine enthusiasm from Dusko as he talked about his pieces.
It takes a certain kind of drive to self-teach yourself any kind of skill, and Dusko’s intuition for abstract uses of color and form come from long hours of practice and care. To really appreciate Dusko’s work, you have to appreciate Dusko’s love and dedication to his craft.