Adrian Stojkovich: Paintings for a Room

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Paintings for a Room, Fort Delta: Art Kollectiv Interview

An explosion has devastated a white Mercedes. An unsettling apparition, the car’s sleek lacquered surface jars with its charred interior and the smashed glass that litters the floor. In a peculiar gesture by the artist, the gallery is left untouched by the incident. This is Adrian Stojkovich’s installation The Death of Anastasio Somoza (2012-13), a work based on the assassination of exiled Nicaraguan politician Anastasio Somoza. This project cannot contrast more with his painting practice, in which strange scenes of domestic life unfold. In Yellow Table, across the velvety surface of an Aztec rug, a dove grey cat slinks through domestic debris: a translucent plastic bag and an iridescent plate of sardines. Caught in the brilliant spotlight of a desk lamp, the scene in this vibrant painting possesses a theatrical drama, akin to that of fashion photography. Luminous layers of paint etch out of pastel abstraction the sumptuous flesh of a quartered lemon, the scaly bellies of fish, the creamy plastic of tape. Exploded cars? Fish? Deconstructed still-lifes? These discordant images feel like the ingredients for some absurd Lewis Carol narrative. What could a life-size reconstruction of the car in which a dictator was assassinated in and a series of decadently grotesque paintings of fish amongst silverware possibly have in common? 

As viewers, we often acquaint ourselves with an artist’s practice by locating them within a specific aesthetic, categorising them as possessing a certain recognisable ‘style.’ Ostensibly, one may have difficulties attributing an exact style to the practice of Melbourne-based artist Adrian Stojkovich, whose mercurial body of work spans painting, video and installation. Yet, if we look closer, there are clues that, once strung together, form the intriguing code of Stojkovich’s seemingly disparate body of work. Ultimately, this is a practice united by a fascination with narrative, as epitomized by The Death of Anastasio Somoza and Yellow Table: the spectacle of South American politics, the broader cannon of art history, the pathos of the theatrical tableaux or the heightened atmosphere of the cinematic.  

Having exhibited throughout Melbourne at galleries such as c3 Contemporary, Paradise Hills and Caves Offsite, Stojkovich weaves captivating tales from both complex assemblages and found material. During his Masters candidature at the Victorian College of the Arts, Stojkovich explored notions of historiography, reproduction and ethics in an installation that documented the political events that made up the Iran Contra Scandal. Taking as a departure point, the embrace of disjuncture within Stojkovich’s practice, one could approach him like a writer of magical realism. Indeed, like the novelist Gael Garcia Marquez, Stojkovich’s practice has the capacity to momentarily suspend reality. Viewing his work, we are transported into a space in which the uncanny doubling of historical events, or the manipulation of pictorial space in a still-life is perplexing, but thoroughly convincing.  

In his recent works for solo show: Paintings for a Room at Fort Delta, Adrian Stojkovich performs a "subtle spell-craft" by gently dislocating his subjects from their backgrounds, reminding the viewer of these domestic scenarios' possibilities for enchantment.  Stojkovich's love affair with painting is evident not only in the works' seductive glistening surfaces, but also in the way that he plays with the materiality of paint, through the creation of a symbolic language that cleverly refers to moments in art history. In each work there is sense of play and tension: the artist pushing and pulling with each medium to understand it better. 

Artist and arts programmer Katie Paine talks to Stojkovich about the place of painting in contemporary art and how cats, Jürgen teller and Ridley Scott’s Alien have all found different ways into his practice.

You can read the interview here