Milena Pavlovic Barili - A poet of painting
December 07, 1999
Milena Pavlovic-Barili (1909 - 1945) In the occasion of 90th anniversary of her birth The "Progres" gallery, Belgrade November-December
Chimera of a painter and poet Milena Pavlovic Barili (1909 - 1945) is once more revealing this artist as an unique person in our history of modern art, about which we discover the unknown details and, as a revelation, learn about her acts from a different angle, under a different light.
An illusionist of spiritual melancholy, an architect of dream and dreaming who walked the short life of her painting (36 years only) as an acrobat on a tight line of the dream, with this particular exhibit opens some so far unknown sights of her authentic fairy tale world. In the occasion of Milena's exhibit in France, as published in "Vreme" on April 16, 1938, the critics were challenged to take part in forming of Ms. Barili's painting trend. Her sensational appearance in front of Paris public initiated a discussion and won favor from Brentonov, Kokto, De Kirk and Loto whereas Paul Valeri stood a full hour in front of the "Devojka sa lepezom" (A girl with the fan) painting. But, the painting trend of Ms. Barili hasn't yet been formed.
Theories and critics are testifying every detail concerning Barili. But, as with each great and authentic, self-conscious artist, they all lead to an opposite direction - to a greater ignorance. She was transformed by numerous influences, schools. She graduated from Royal school of arts in Belgrade, was influenced by different cultures of Munich, Madrid, London, Paris, New York, ancient Rome, Venice and Florence. She was inspired with Byzantine blue colors and wing messengers. In the renaissance poetry of Boticelli and Giorgione, soft Venuses and Madonnas, as Protic noted, "narcotic poetry of a sad, female side of her body" was expressed. Expressionist portraits of her beloved ones were the painter's gift to academies and professors. In a surrealistic language, she would say: "…in the middle of a celestial horror…". Instead of quoting and copying, Barili was an obsessed poet of painting. Therefor, her verses are the key, a specific code for her "enigmatic compositions", as vice versa, her painting is the root for understanding of her poetry.
There are no models, stereotypes, cliches and rusty standards of European modernism in Barili's creating.
Original and self-conscious, Milena Pavlovic Barili is a visionary, a poet of contradiction, contrariety and syncretism. As her verses say: "…in a corner of a cloud/her obscure sadness sleeps…"; she intuitively stresses that the only origins of her painting are in myths, fairy tales and stories told in the middle of Paris, New York, Washington, California, London and Rome.
Her sensitive spiritual riot and everlasting sense is felt in the entire exhibit. First of all, in a bronze casting of her hands - most certainly the most impressive authentic fragment. Intimate family and document photos, personal painter's wardrobe, dresses etc. all rise atmosphere of her life style and echo in metaphysical rhapsody of reality and dream.
They were saying for Milena that she was prettier and more gracious than her paintings. It was with good reason that she revealed poetical dreaming in self-observing and introspection. She realized her own personality, figure, divine female beauty, specially in the cycles of her marketing designs for the famous fashion magazines, perfumes and companies, such as the "Vogue", "Harper's Bazaar", "Town and Country" etc. She shined with a charismatic beauty and easily conquered aristocratic circles. Publicly, her intellectual vision was prevailing. Privately, she was of delicate health, contemplative and fictitious over the permanent topics of life and death.
Milena painted illustrations of her own physical charms as well as morphology of a lonely meditativeness and inner spiritual division. Thus, exposed personal objects can be considered as the elements for the deeper and clearer understanding of her picturesque, symbolic allegories.
Watercolor azure, sentimental and lyric shades of colors in the cycle of enigmatic and imaginary compositions reduced on two dimensions are the result of painting manners that she used in the work for the famous fashion magazines. In a moment, illustrative and painting skills became one.
Milena's imaginative plastic poetry is metaphoric, rich with significant messages. When she post-surrealistically re-interprets Breton, De Kirk, Boticelli, Giogione, when she paints provocative bodies of nymphs in her passionate auto-portraits, in her praising of antic mythology, her work is a special message. The legend says that Dodon bells in Zeus oracular in Epir used for foretelling. As if we are constantly hearing the foretelling rings through Milena's melancholic pictures.
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