Erica Ravenna

Jusuf Hadžifejzović

Jusuf Hadžifejzović

(Prijepolje, 1956)

Jusuf Hadžifejzović, was born in Prijepolie, a small town now on the Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Montenegro border. Still very young he starts to study art in Sarajevo and continues his studies in Belgrade where he holds his first personal exhibition. In 1980 he attends the State Academy in Dusseldorf and studies under Klaus Rinke. Back in Sarajevo he contributes to the renewal of the contemporary art scenario in the Balkan area and gathers together all those artists whose ideas and perceptions on art he shares, thus giving rise to a series of personal exhibitions of over a hundred artists who join the initiative. A true and proper Yugoslavian Biennale – Yugoslav Documenta - is thus established. However, only two of these exhibitions take place since 1987 because the third is interrupted by the outbreak of war. In 1992 Hadžifejzović takes refuge in Belgium. Here his work enjoys an especially prolific period. He collaborates with the Dennis Anderson Gallery, takes part in the Venice and Istanbul Biennale and in several international exhibitions. His art represents a breakthrough and an opposition against the domination of a system that subjects art and culture to the mere reasons of power and the market. He reacts against the culture of what is kitsch, trade, politics and the rigging of art and artists, using the strong language of performances and installations. The need to reconsider the role of the artist in society and restore its determining function in this sense, leads him, once the war is over, to return to Sarajevo where once again he gathers together international artists and critics to take up once more the interrupted job of Yugoslav Documenta. This is the context in which one of the most independent and provocative personalities of Eastern Europe’s contemporary art is formed. Hadžifejzović analyzes each detail of life through the eyes of an anthropologist and an archaeologist. Everything is a source of inspiration. He collects and buys old things wherever he can; he uses waste material and disused objects; everything that has been used, thrown away or forgotten: mute testimonies of the human condition with its endless contradictions, obscured by the darkness of oblivion that through a kind of tautological game are again brought to light to reveal their existence. Therefore paper bags we buy our bread in, wrapping paper, old newspapers on which paint is applied – the prevailing colours are black, white, grey, shades, the colours of the soil – turn out to be signs of our life environment, fragmentary and for this very reason even more significant. The painting traces the lines of the folds of the envelopes, of the wrapping paper, of the written lines of newspapers, thus deleting the contents and highlighting the self-referentiality of the language as something valuable.