Anatomy of an art­work Milena Drag­ice­vic’s Sup­pli­cant 101

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In­ner cir­cle …

Milena Drag­ice­vic’s 2008 se­ries of small, iden­ti­cally sized paint­ings, Sup­pli­cants, are based on pho­tos of fe­male friends. Yet they are not por­traits. The Cana­dian-Serb artist has said that us­ing a face was a “sim­ple start­ing point” for a paint­ing, like a cir­cle on a can­vas.

Let’s party …

What she cre­ates, though, is far from the neu­tral­ity of a geo­met­ric shape. Th­ese are im­ages that bur­row deep un­der view­ers’ skins. The muted, an­tique pal­ette sug­gests a world out­side of time. Her sub­jects are pale and shad­owed: guests at a nev­erend­ing party for the un­dead.

Face pained …

They wear masks and face-paint: a beak here, but in other works, the rect­an­gu­lar thick red mouths fa­mil­iar from Na­tive Amer­i­can totem poles. Some­times the face is ob­scured by a colour­ful ab­stract void.

A world away …

In spite of the mix of cul­tural ref­er­ences and styles, the paint­ings con­jure their own uni­verse into be­ing. They could be seen as a com­ment on the sta­tus of paint­ing now: de­clared dead, res­ur­rected, in­de­fati­ga­ble. Skye Sher­win In­cluded in Leo Fitz­mau­rice: Be­tween You and Me and Ev­ery­thing Else, Walker Art Gallery, Liver­pool, to 17 Mar

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