The news came at the hottest of summer: the death of painter Vladimir Veličković. A sudden death in Split, on 29 August 2019, he was preparing new canvases, drawings, different exhibitions, books and the wonderful retrospective dedicated to him in Landerneau by the Hélène & Édouard Leclerc funds for culture. He was so busy, creative, attentive, resolute, admired, loved… The numerous tributes immediately paid to the Serbian artist powerfully underlined the universal enthusiasm he aroused. He was a member of the Institut de France–he was elected in 2005 at Bernard Buffet’s chair–whose incomparable work is now exhibited in ninety-eight museums on earth. And if one example of this enthusiasm should be kept, it would the image of the rugged Francis Bacon running in Paris, in the eighties, to discover the latest hanging of one the rare painters he respected: our dear Vladimir Veličković.
Everything that needed to be said about the man and his art was said, even here in Saint-Malo, since he–nicknamed “Vlada” by his friends–made us the honour, the joy of sharing his work with us. In the Cristel Editeur d’Art Centre tradition, he even made what is his last portfolio: “Vladimir Veličković. The Work in Black”, two original prints dedicated to Saint-
Malo to testify once again of the disasters of war. Anyway, history as old as the hills; unfortunately he could learnedly talk about the basic inhumanity of men. At six years old, he saw the Nazi hordes crush Belgrade under the bombs. Then women hanged, quartered, tortured. Dogs, rats, craws feasting on spoiled flesh. He, the Serbian, happy spouse of Maristella, the Croatian, saw in the autumn of his life his own brothers, Yugoslavians, torment until it became a crime the hope of an ecumenical nation. Repeated pain, infinite horrors; Vladimir Veličković swore to himself, as a fighting painter, to continuously paint so that it can never be forgotten. That was the meaning of his work: a demonstration, not through absurd but through strength, stroke, shadow, blood, of the depths that cruelty relentlessly opens.
For his exhibition in Saint-Malo, Vladimir Veličković signed several little pictures and gathered some of his drawings. At the time of inaugurating, an unusual rendez-vous called “Horizon. Small Format”, we wanted to present them to the public once again with this double intention: say what an exceptional, indispensable artist he was. And how much we miss him and loved him.
Christophe and Élodie Penot