Radenko Milak : Angel of History
November 4th – January 4th, 2023
Solana Beach, California – Madison gallery presents Bosnian artist Radenko Milak (* 1980) who combines the photographic image with the painterly narrative. Like a chronicler of the present, he addresses major contemporary issues and identifies historical connections. Milak’s paintings are always based on photos. In his paintings and animated films – mostly watercolors with black pigment – RADENKO MILAK analyses the role of contemporary image production in the formation of our historical and cultural memory. The Bosnian artist’s painting work centers on questions relating to how visual elements are fixed and stored – both in personal memories and as presented in the media of film and photography.
“For his first solo exhibition in California, at Madison Gallery, Radenko Milak presents a corpus of works created during and after the years of stupor. These were the years of a pandemic that had frozen and suspended social time. In 2023, everything seems to have returned to normal. The world has returned to the rhythm of conflicts and extreme climatic changes. We have not yet taken full measure of the impact the pandemic had on our lives. Radenko Milak’s works chronicle contemporary living conditions. He examines the disintegration of relationships in the megacities. He reveals the chiaroscuro of parallel solitudes. He reveals a historical truth that is, for the moment, beyond words. These silhouettes, cutting through architectures that look unreal, are shadows or ghosts. Their precariousness heralds their disappearance in silence. Radenko Milak provokes a subtle sense of anxiety. It awakens emotions, a sensibility to the world and to others, which we know that it is necessary, if we want live fully. The artist captures the soul of the times, its historical dimension. He turns the accidental into a coherent vision.
If Radenko Milak defines himself as an artist of the digital age, we should immediately add that his aesthetic language does not belong to the digital age. His sources and subject matter are based on a careful exploration of the immediate, constant and dematerialized mass flow of images through digital networks. His works are the expression of a deeply singular vision that gives flesh, a body, to disincarnated images. His work is not only from a painter who has developed a virtuoso and inimitable watercolor technique, with an economy of means, through an alchemical combination of black pigment, water and white paper, it is from an observer, a chronicler, who reveals the real that escapes us in our passive relationship to the digital flow.
The situations captured by Radenko Milak inspire an emotion that is of a nature to awaken us to our own existence. A work of art is a material and concrete relationship to the world, because it develops a sensitive grammar. If we take a closer look at Radenko Milak’s works, we are no longer shadows and silhouettes, but alive. Between social and intimate time, the narrative power of these works creates, where we only perceived fragmented events, a single narrative, a common destiny. It could be that Radenko Milak is the Angel of History described by Walter Benjamin : “Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.” – Christopher Yggdre
Radenko Milak, born in 1980 in Travnik, former Yugoslavia, is currently based in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He holds a degree from the Academy of Art, University of Banja Luka (2003), and the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Art Belgrade (2007). In recognition of his talent, Milak was honored with the Premio Combat Prize for Drawing in Italy in 2012. His artwork has gained recognition through participation in prestigious international art events. Notably, he represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 57th Venice Biennale. His participation also extended to the Kampala Biennale in Uganda and the 57th edition of the October Salon in Belgrade. Milak’s artistic contributions can be found in esteemed public collections, including the Folkwang Museum in Germany, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, and The Ludwig Museum in Budapest.
Christopher Yggdre, a prominent curator, redefines art curation by blending modern innovation with traditional values. He fearlessly curates exhibitions that ignite discussions on cultural and social themes, collaborating with figures like philosopher Edouard Glissant. Co-founder of “Les Périphériques vous parlent” and part of Generation Chaos, Yggdre bridges art, humanities, and socio-environmental issues. Yggdre is the Artistic Director at the French Foundation LAccolade and curator at THE ELEMENTAL in Palm Springs. Noteworthy projects include the 2017 Venice Biennale’s “University of Disaster,” Paris exhibitions like “Life Entangled,” and upcoming works like “Symbiosium – Speculative Cosmogonies.”