Mladen Stilinović: On Money, Zeroes, etc
- Liz Shannon
- 3 July 2008
CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 19 Jul
According to the Croatian artist Mladen Stilinovic, there is no art without laziness. A series of photographs entitled ‘Artist at Work’ shows his theory in action: Stilinovic lying in bed, looking melancholy or facing the wall. But ‘lazy’ artists are not necessarily unproductive or uninspiring, as this exhibition demonstrates.
Dating from the 1970s to the present day, Stilinovic’s art reflects his life growing up under Tito’s socialist regime in the former Yugoslavia, now independent, capitalist Croatia. This massive shift in political ideology is integral to the artist’s work. Some of his ideas are pretty blunt: to enter the gallery you must step over coins scattered on the floor, while banknotes dangle from the ceiling and cast playful shadows on the wall.
Stilinovic displays an expert use of slogans and visual references. His works feature imagery drawn from the art of the radical Left, including Soviet design’s use of motif and colour (particularly revolutionary red and black), alongside the dynamic abstraction of Malevich and the Constructivists – art created for the regime, but ultimately outlawed. While these themes could be viewed as hackneyed, particularly in works featuring banknotes from the former Yugoslavia, and American dollar bills, they in fact offer a true insight into our relationship with money. This is the best kind of political art, emerging out of a lived experience and provoking wider questions that are still relevant today.