Catalogue essay commissioned for: Milan Milojevic – Wunderkammerama, DARK MOFO, Rosny Barn June 2017
Milan smiles tolerantly as I launch into my barista appraisal – there is no redemption when it comes to the morning after gym Machiato – it’s a flat white for Milan – he gets excited at the thought of a refill while only a second sip into the first.
He is fairly jumping halfway through his second.
But then, he is never far away from excitement.
I ponder, as usual, what playlist he dialled for the just concluded session.
He is never far from a lyric for all occasions.
He starts to talk about elephants and jugglers, parades of the exotic, the weird and wonderful conjured magical beings that are an entourage from another world, a world now surreal in his memory – that other one his childhood was surrounded by as he segued through sanitised memories of the hell of Serbia that his parents escaped post war, relocated to North Hobart/Mt Stuart via Bronte Park hydro camps in the early 50’s.
You can take the boy out of Serbia but you cant take Serbia out of the .......art work ?
Memories pretty much locked away in the Balkan Wunderkammer of dispersed objects and memories ; until now –with a roll of drums it is unleashed and the room is filled with all the other-world colour, beauty and hybrid weirdness that despite the overlay, still allows a remembered design fragment of table cloth , tea towel, lace or wall paper patterns as if a glimpse of a tëlina't beneath a pështjellak.
Or further remembered:
into the ring led by the ukulele and the dancing elephant ; the zoological, botanical, geometrical and asymmetrical patterning of the brightly covered scarves as fluttered by the parade of the pagans, the imagined scree of the
exertions as a sound track to the idols as expressed through motifs of snakes and roosters, or other horny thorny things, challenging the delicacy of soft beauty ; transformed beyond imagining, through imaging ; as the sun blindingly reflects from dangling jewelry – gold and silver necklaces, bracelets and rings – followed now by the beaded and embroided embellishments of love ; how wondrous it is to turn the Balkan cabinet key for this night of the Wunderkamarama – begone you black dogs and wipe the mud of the Balkan killing fields from your dragon skin feet on the mat of the ever optimistic –
I will fight you with my beauty.
(Who let you out ?)
a lyric for another occasion a jest
tick one for Art.
Milan’s morning playlist is a giveaway when his mind returns to the present with a short rendition of “Mr. Kite” from the Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band studio album. The austere inheritance collides with psychedelic rock circus as the second cup caffeine hits and images of a tasseled Joybelle, at the head of this wondrous parade of bejeweled beastie tragics enters the room. “Once,” she smiles coyly, beading butterflies.
John Lennon found the 1843 Pablo Fanque Circus Royal poster that inspired “Benefit of Mr. Kite” in a Kent, England, antique shop. So too does Milan haunt repositories with his compulsive eye for an image printed on this or that – an antique tin toy; a rare edition popup paper book; picture frames for as yet to be imagined or realised images; collector edition anythings, all with democratic interest, synthesized into this Wunderkammerama.
“Mr Kite will introduce the Celebrated Horse Znathus, while Mr Henderson will undertake the arduous task of throwing 21 Somersets with Mr Kite on the tightrope and Mr. Henderson will introduce extraordinary leaps over men and horses, through hoops, over Garters and lastly through a Hogshead of Real Fire”.
I sing along in my head.
“Can I get a set of steel strings for my Ukelele? “calls Milan across the café, sighting someone who would know. Tiny Tim is in his Luna Park.
The world is Milan’s Cabinet of Curiosities – he is an artist ; scholar of the object, idea and image, who shares the motivations of the original C17th Wunderkammerists– the desire to bring all knowledge into a single space.
Studio of the artist Andreas (equally known as Milan).
Sitting on shelves in easy juxtaposition;
The Beatles Complete; Easy Guitar edition
New Worlds from Old – NGA Catalogue
The Art and craft of Montage by Simon Larbalestier
Postcards from the Boys by Ringo Starr – a Tasmanian Devil postcard a curious inclusion.
From the wall... the iconic (Sir) Peter Blake cover for the Sgt Peppers Album, next to the equally influential Disraeli Gears and Wheels on Fire covers for the Cream by Martin Sharp.
His own studio Wunderkammer peels back its layers
For those that know him, this interface where the artwork, the condensing of experience into a lyric into song, equally as an image or idea into print, is part of the essential Milan. No interdisciplinary barriers here, just how one observes and expresses a life being lived – a lead singer for his discipline.
Play another image.
Milan/Andreas flattens 230 layers and the magic of detail, colour, line, form and vision vibrates on the screen but prints a bit flat – emboss it with a plate texture, some transparentiser with a dash of cadmium blue and that will lift off the paper and jump out of the frame – confident in the mastering of technique , materials and methods that stretch back to his apprenticeship at Landfall Press in late 70’s Chicago, followed by 30 years or so of encouraging others that the world is a better place for each new print that comes off a plate, woodcut, stone, offset of any kind,.... or a potato. (“his best work was that little potato print he did in first year” he says of a student he recalls from his years as Head of the Print Making Department at the University School of Art.)
If you’ve got a problem, print it !
I leave the studio with a Terry Allen vinyl, executive produced by Jack Lemon at Landfall Press Inc. during the time Milan was there as the go-to colourist. The lyrics give backdrop imagery to his stories of road trips and studio attitudes, late night art, commitment of the discipline and coming of age.
Terry sings, “...she told me she liked art but that she couldn’t draw a line that was straight enough. I told her if she could reach something and pick it up, she could draw a line that was straight enough. She said she wasn’t interested in that kind of drawing, but had always liked horses. I said I did too, but they were hard to draw......”
Stories of Chicago roll out into experience. “Here is a little thing I learnt at Landfall”, Milan says, dropping a touch of dioxazine purple into a dollop of Pantone transwhite. He watches with doubt as I roll it out straight on to the paper – the print maker recoils a little looking for a plate ; the offset; “you can always sign that as a Unique State” he mumbles –“ an edition of Unique States maybe”, I respond, wanting to better understand his world from within my world of sonic histories and digital fictions.
A blank space In the hallway
On the wallway
Between the hangings
That ain’t lonely
At all ........
Well ....the Art Mob’s out tonight
Yeah.....the Art Mob’s out tonight
Ahhh....you better look good
Yeah ....you better act right
The Art Mob’s out tonight.”
“I love the smell of a print room,” Milan reminisces.
Leigh Hobba; Hobart May 2017