From the Realistic to the Magical
Reflections on the Watercolours of Ismet RizviŠ
When claims that landscape painting ceased to be a productive form of fine art became a universally accepted truth, when claims that this kind of art had become worn out and unable to embrace the entire universe of human existence, filled with anxiety, absurdity and intolerance, when ironic discourse became dominant in interpersonal communication and when the "aesthetics of ugliness” prevailed, Ismet RizviŠ, armed with his magical powers of penetration into the essence of the real world, embarked on his journey into Nature to discover a new kind of sensitivity, which had been unknown to man until then, a sentiment that absorbed the mystery of its existence, thus building a mysterious world of art, a metaphor of faith that the principle of beauty had not betrayed the world as its home, that there was still a world filled with its life-giving and meaningful abundance. He was not afraid of allegations that landscape painting was anachronistic, and, having faith in his instinct and his creative urge and calling, he embarked on a twofold adventure: to find a medium he could use to shape his own world and to persuade all those around him the fact that nature’s inspirational potential could never be exhausted.
Impression was the logos of the truth of the world he was searching for, yet his logos was significantly different from the essence of the logos that marked the epoch of Impressionist painters: they recognized the truth of the world in light that portrayed the luxuriousness of the world, whereas Ismet RizviŠ recognized that truth in the act of vaporisation. It is not the vaporisation of our experience; it is the demiurge-like power of existence, the dynamic principle of persistent alterations that embraces the divine power of creation. This vaporisation fills the Cosmos of the world in its entirety, while, at the same time, it inhabits the world of the real and far beyond. Impression is an act of initiation into the mystery of Nature, an act of the miracle that persists in its invisible vibrations and only an artist with a supersensitive sensory system and the power of reflection, could find an equivalent medium that could be translated into vaporisation, into the fluid existence, the truth of the world for which he had lived and from which he had absorbed the divine power of creation and upon which he had built the world that turned into the paradigm of a new sensitivity which crystallised the truth of the world, the ontological core that is the primordial beginning of everything that exists in this world.
The material equivalent in which this persistent alteration of Vaporisation could be captured, is colour diversified into an endless spectrum of valeurs, but not the valeurs that in the realistic paintings appear as different levels of brightness of objects, rather the valeurs that are objectivised in their fullness and their substantiality, in the living material component that finds its conceptualisation in the most different states of universal alterations. His valeurs depended on the existing degree of light in a certain quality of colour; his valeurs had their very clear connotative resonance, their dimensions and their recognisability. They were diluted and condensed and offered various aspects of the truth of the world, whose unity was preserved at their core thus offering the fullness of their reality in the endless number of realities. In fact, it was the abundance that amazed Ismet RizviŠ, the abundance from whose mysteries he could not release himself, but rather succumbed to without any reservation, refusing to embrace any other truth that was incongruous with his own understanding of the truth. He accepted his own solitude, not as a rebellion, but as a serenity that rose to the level of the Arcadian. And it was his serenity that allowed him to recognise, in the colours that had been given to him, the distinction of valeur relations that gained their specific weight of expression, their being that was incorporated in the totality of the coloured reality which determined the persuasiveness of the truth he had been looking for and the sublime reality he had been driven to: the universal harmony that mystified him and in which he became the master of his world. He lived beyond life’s mundaneity, yet he rejoiced in the encounters with those capable of engaging in his creative mystery.
Besides their basic task of objectivising the artist’s ideas, his colours performed two additional functions: they succeeded in preserving the inner relationship to the artist, reducing themselves, at times, to the level of description. They were a sort of game the artist played by incorporating the components of the real world as pauses, stations, droplets that were gathered on top of his brush; on the other hand, they introduced man to their own mystery. In this accumulation of colour the artist recognized himself, his inner state, his friendship or enmity in the constellation of relations between different colours. This was manifested in the transparency and the condensation of these relations, but also in the definition of the brown pigment that was predominant in some of RizviŠ’s works.
Ismet RizviŠ did not have a dominant colour which would, at a certain moment, lend itself to creative activism. One could, therefore, carry out a sort of classification of the colours through which Ismet RizviŠ established his communication with the unavoidable alterations of the world, although it could be in no way generalised, because RizviŠ never gave in to any schematism and to pre-set conditions. Yet one could principally say that he resorted to green whenever he wanted to make his inspiration lyrically transparent. And it is then that the world of the real became most recognizable because it actually disclosed the act of description. The blue colour became his metaphor for space and for the oddity of the whole constellation of relations. Nevertheless, the range of warm colours was closest to him and most of his works were resolved using these colours. His colours ranged from lyrical cadences all the way to saturated, condensed browns that make observers feel uneasy.
Ismet RizviŠ was, almost exclusively, a watercolourist (although, at times, he did paint with pastels or, alternately, with watercolours and pastels) and was deeply in tune with the nature of his inspiration. This medium intended to achieve the shivering subtlety of his expression, which can only be done by painting in watercolour. One needs to note here that painting in watercolour, just like the world that shapes it, suggests inconsistency, illusiveness of this world in time, the inclination to a fragility that could not take into consideration those who are only able to believe in the works of art that are monumental. Ismet RizviŠ, perhaps not being fully aware of it, painted in spite of all these people, building a world of uncertain existence, yet very convincing in its expression. He believed in that world. Completely!
Whatever relationship he might have established with his works, he was always connected to man and, thus, man directly participated in Ismet’s understanding of the world, man was a component part of his paintings no matter how he had conceived them and no matter that man never appeared in the very substrate of his inspiration. Yet, at the same time, man was a constant feature of his faith in his human mission. Man was the focal point of his works; his art was actually a biography of man painted in a spectrum of hues. Man was present in each of his colours and without man and his spiritual mission, the art of Ismet RizviŠ would have been dispersed as if it were foam, it would have become profane and would have faded. In the immediate flow of his existence, Ismet RizviŠ built his oases, an isolation that enabled him to protect himself from the temptations of life itself (as far as possible), yet he never forgot the man who is the point from which everything begins and to which everything returns. This is why the art of Ismet RizviŠ is so deeply humane and so truly humanised.
Sarajevo, 6 April 2006 Vojislav VujanoviŠ