Miodrag Djuric Dado was born in 1933 in Cetinje, Montenegro, and died in 2010. He started his education in Herceg Novi and continued it at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade as a student of professor Marko Čelebonovića. In 1956 he had moved to France and in the early sixties moved to Hérouval in Normandy, where he lived until his death. He has also spent some time in New York and the Central African Republic, and then traveled all around the globe. Besides drawings and oil paintings, he was engaged in graphics, ceramics, sculpture, scenography, frescoes, illustrations bibliographic publications, collages and assemblages. His works are included in the collections of the world biggest museums and galleries, as well as numerous public and private collections and his exhibitions were organized in many countries. Almost two decades ago, a remarkable poet and art historian Alain Bosquet published his biography Dado, Un Univers sans repos (Dado,a Restless Universe), and he was recently also honored by a documentary on his work and life. Dado painted the walls of the winecellar in Serignan, as well as the St. Luke chapel of in Gisors. At the Venetian Biennal in 2009. he represented Montenegro with a series of painted sculptures named Zorzi Elegies. Miodrag Dado Djuric belongs with the greatest and the most original artists of his time.
Dado is a complete artist, equally successful as drawer, painter and sculptor. The aim of the exhibition at the HAOS Gallery is to present not only the ‘line adventure’, but also the different drawing techniques that Djuric used and still uses with the same vigour. And this is why we decided that it is really necessary to present the drawings from his first creative phase.
After quick glance at his drawings and sketches from this early period presented at this exhibition, we can see the power of the artist’s hand, which remains undisturbed even during Dado’s flights into the cubism or lettrism. I believe that it is worth to point out these experiments he made at the sunset of his career because they allow us partial insight into the artist’s drawing creative mechanism.
There is one more important reason why Dado’s early works deserve to be included in this exhibition. Namely, their iconography based on some kind of ‘subjective autobiography’ is very special, sometimes even touching. Dado exposes certain parts of his past, for which we would think it was over long time ago, but here it is again, revived thanks to the lapidary, although sometimes caricatural sketches of the people he met when he moved to Picardy in the late 50’s. For example, on one drawing from that period we can see the shapeless female butcher as she returns the change to the customer, who is nobody else but the artist himself. On the other drawing, the very same man is watching from his window a witch-looking woman hovering over her pot, accompanied with her two gnomish children. All of this artist’s talent lies in his ability to distort the reality through the exaggeration and the form amplification to the point of discomfort.
In time, Dado totally abandoned semi-autobiographic contents in his works on paper and produced the whole colony of ‘freaks’. But the ominous, slithery crawling of these ‘misfit creatures’ is shaded by their surprising delicacy, which might be caused by the extreme minuteness of the line created by pencil or ink. This spiderweb chaos, characteristic for Dado’s works from the late 60’s, did not even imply what would follow: a drastic change of line, dark presentation and revelation, as well as the artist’s simultaneous passion for engraving. I have realized that it is of crucial importance to present a selection of his engravings - because these works represent one of the most important stages of Dado’s artistic journey.
You can clearly see that his strokes are violent, but extremely precise at the same time. In this case, his weapon of choice is dry needle, a metal peak with which he scratches and ‘lashes’ the copper plate. Dado’s etchings from the period of the 1970-1980 have the strength of the nightmare came true. His line transforms into a fresh cut which, often in unusually raven surrounding, creates the brand new tribe of the artist’s beloved freaks. It is a subtle threat of the ‘dark wave’, which will become an in cloak, sort of matrix of characters who have wandered away from the reality.
It would be impossible to create such an exhibition without his most recent works, such as ‘Crowned Heads’ - the collection of jocular and sardonic vignettes which reveal Dado’s deep urge to distort and exaggerate. It was so unavoidable to present his ‘priapic’ Louis XIV, or Martin Luther, or busty Anne of Austria, who certainly did not look like that in the history textbook from the 1950, which have got into the artist’s hands about a year ago (unluckily for those who have learnt from it, but not for us). This series shows playfulness in Dado’s graphic expression (because of the laughs produced by this characters endowed with the attributes which we can not name here out of decency), but in more formal sense, it shows extraordinary parsimony of line.
In one of my earlier essays, I wrote about ‘funny shamelessness of perversity’ that characterizes Dado’s drawings in past few years. I am more than sure that the ‘Crowned Heads’ are the most complete incarnation of them.
Janica Djuric, April, 2010.