Zarko Basheski’s latest exhibition is a step forward in the interpretation of sculpture in Macedonia. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the author’s latest investigations are based on the realistic treatment of man in 20th century sculpture in this region and wider from its beginnings in the social, historic, cultural and geographic framework of art history in the Western world…
As for the context of these works in the domain of stylistic definition (not only) in Macedonian sculpture, it can freely be said that Basheski’s sculptures, unlike previous representations of the human figure in our country, are not impressionistic in their execution, nor anatomically overemphasized, nor do they belong to “new realism”… They cannot fit into the aforementioned existing notions; rather, they require different interpretations and a new reading of realism.
In Zarko Basheski’s sculptures there are several elements which are new to Macedonian sculpture – the hyper-realistic treatment, technical production and use of new materials, size of the work, the concept – all of which, when combined in one, offer a multilayered reading of the artwork. Not only in terms of their production, but also in terms of their technological process, the works can be subsumed under the frames of realism, which uses as its foundation photography as an “impersonal and objective start to representation”. In particular, it “uses” the power of photography to convey even the smallest detail and express an intense and precise hyper-reality.
The exhibition represents three different types of humans. The connection between the three characters – author/artist, ordinary person, and imaginary portrait – can be found in the general representation of humanity, that is the human being as a symbol of ongoing existential struggle which includes real life and historic influences, as well as imaginary conditions of the spirit. These representations of people, without idealizing the form of the human body, reflect a strong life force and a potent creative energy.
In Basheski’s latest sculptures, humans exist faced with their own emotional states, such as personal moments of life’s struggles, creation, anticipation, uncertainty, etc. Psychological emotion is underscored through man’s confrontation with all the elements of the personal in public space. The story told by each individual figure starts with the resilience of man emerging from the ground (defined as mother-earth or environment) which, through/with the collective subconscious (a metaphor contained in the historic imaginary figure), come together in the tension and uncertainty reflected in the “small” character (the author, the creator). In all of them together, as in every individual portrait, in different ways there is a strong reflection (even poetic) of dramatic tension which suggests anticipation, and the psychological moment is underlined in relation to the usual hyper-realistic process of strict photographic, unemotional depiction and interpretation.
In terms of their idea and technique, the works from the latest creative phase of the sculptor Basheski are something new and have been technically executed to perfection in a “new type of realism”. The mode of execution is a classical one, while the material employed (silicone) is up-to-date and previously unused in Macedonia. The special silicone that the author uses for the faces is susceptible to complete imitation of the texture, softness and color of the “live” face with its every spot and pore… The process itself “insists” on “frightening realism” of life, in the particular attention paid to the precise execution of every detail (even the hair inserted in the faces is natural). However, the realistic execution of the details is no imperative, but rather it is a function of the idea.
The re-reading of one dimension of the explicit reality of the figure occurs in the odd proportions of the works, which are either monumentally oversized or minimized in relation to natural human size. This insistence on irregular sizes allows for a certain psychological distance between the work and the viewer, simultaneously creating a feeling of being confronted with a sculpture as a work of art, rather than a wax figure by Madam Tussaud. Basheski creates his works with incredible level of detail that imitates life, and his manipulation of size means that in invokes physical reality, without imitating it directly.
According to the author, references are inevitable in contemporary art. When it comes to contemporary sculptors, particular similarities in the execution and partly in the theme of “life”, which is the dominant theme in Basheski’s works, can be drawn to the work of several recent authors, including R. Mueck, S. Jinks. E. Penny, J. Salmon, etc.
In the choice of the timeless theme – man and the several points that emerge as key: the psychological moment, life and creation, Zarko Basheski’s new works integrate concept and execution, that is the idea and the technical implementation. The multiple layers in his artworks can be found in the new way of seeing and confronting sculptures; in the complexes of possible symbolic readings (emphasizing allusions to humanity, humaneness, connection to birth, etc.), but also in the re-defining of realism in art and in the return to the reflection on the phenomena of the human figure.