The Drawers - Srdjan Segan   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Ethnic Convergence

Size brings monumental themes into play and yet is rarely executed in paper, a fragile medium. That the subject is a human image, stretched, hanging from the hands and visiting animist sites as it makes the long transition of space, both attests to the grand notion of humanity and also to the brief trajectory of each life through time.

All that the drawings embody is related to the artist's history through a traceable path. Srdjan Segan is a Serbian from Croatia, a minority ethnicity who had made up a lesser percentage of the population for centuries. He grew up in a country where the citizens were often pitted against each other. At nineteen he was able to receive a refugee status but it was not until he was twenty-four that he began the process that would allow him to immigrate to Canada; he was twenty-six when he finally arrived. He had changed, while in Serbia, from his studies in medicine to an interest in Fine Arts. The innards exposed in the drawings, twisted and mixed-up bring up the medical orientation of the body as corpus, as the physical structure and animal substance. The drawing as a whole, magnified as it is, they becomes “the main or central mass of a thing”. Then, there is the third connotation of a corpse or a carcass, splayed and hanging to cure. Srdjan uses charcoal and coffee to stain and draw on the paper - simple substances on a humble ground. In doing so he grants the body a more 'full bodied' rendition of the matter making the concept of monumentality a virtual object in the art piece.

A room filled with these draping hanging presences, punctuated by his equally immutable bronzes, brings to mind ancient temples. These are icons that can refer to religious imagery as awesome as the Eastern Island sculptures and the massive Buddhas of the Orient. They are warriors - guardians of sacred spaces, warning against marauders. They speak of man's dignity. They are a testament to his status, standing upright above all of the other species. They are not singularly consumed though and while incorporate images of the lesser realms and hence show the relationship and interdependency of the creatures of the earth. There is also an alien intonation as if the long paper men/women are from another galaxy, a silent witnessing being from outer-space.

We walk down the length of the bodies or squint to peer up at the faces from our picayune vantage point. We are connected to the giants through the large drawings and the human potential is made greater.

Copyright © 2007,  Julie Oakes