Those who love the visual arts, they are usuallyfamiliar with the artist first before they get a chance to physically gaze upon the works themselves. For me it was the opposite.
One evening in Novi Sad, Serbia, at a typical ‘Slava’ (Serbiantraditional feast), I was having dinner and I saw a painting on the wall that immediately captivated me with its mixture of colours, strange symbols and its strange landscape. It was not apparent to me that the artist himself was present at the table and it was odd that no one had mentioned anything about art that evening. Roughly a year later I discovered that the secret artist at the table was an Australian artist with a Serbian name, Ranko Vukeljic. I had enquired and received Vukeljic’s email from the hostess of the Slava in order to ask the artist personally if he could express how he had achieved such natural colours. Ultimately, this is how the Australian artist became my art teacher and I his student. In other words, I, a musician, became an overnight regular student in a one-man school run by an Australian academic artist. I realised that some ancient “Aboriginal magic”, which was beyond me, is what allowing Vukeljic to manipulate the colours with his technique in the same way that a magician can manipulate cards.
Maestro Vukeljic through his step-by-step experimentation with oil paint on canvas can arrive to the simplest discovery of light and dark, which can be seen in the core of every human individual. From lemon yellow to the colours black and red, Vukeljic had managed to create hundreds of different combinations and unique mixtures of colours that almost come to life. This leaves a person feeling mystified but at the same time with the feeling of wanting to know how Vukeljic accomplished these unbelievable mixture of colours. Vukeljic is not a slave to the contemporary arts.His artwork contains landscapes that are covered in hidden symbols, which might take the observer more time to interpret, but everyone through their own subjective experience can pull something unique out of it. In regards to this, there is one more thing that personally leaves me mystified. In a lot of his work,which he painted back in Australia, it is evident to see a typical Serbian farm, with the animals and surrounding. It is almost as if he lassoed a picturesque Vojvodjanian farm and placed it smack bang into the middle of a typical Australian meadow, or desert, where one can imagine an unseen kangaroo and other Australian animals lurking in the background.
An artist is born when he/she wants to bring out the child within and present it on the canvas. This insight into his dreams speaks of a surrealistic story of symbols, which are hard to understand. However, it is understood by the average lover of art who recognise their own small secrets within their soul that is so intimate that it has been forgot but can be found again through the symbols on Vukeljic’s paintings.
Academic artist Ranko Vukeljic without a doubt stands behind his predecessors of Serbian and Vojvodinian art where he now fills the gap between Konjovic, Belic, Mice Popovic or Milic from Macva. If he does not fill the gap by having a different artistic style then he fills the space by his bravery to embrace his own origin and to become both a traditional and modern artist, and furthermore to become recognised as a new brand of contemporary Serbian and Vojvodinian art. Through the portraits that he has done recently, he has evidently shown that he can adapt to his own, who in turn have waited for him to fill this void.