Meet Goran Stojcetovic, the founder of Art Brut Serbia

Art Brut is a term coined by Jean Dubuffet in 1948 and stands for art based on pure sensation, unimpaired by the shackles of education, close to the Cubists and the Dadaists form the beginning of the century.

It embraces the works of marginalized groups, prisoners, psychiatric patients, children, unschooled authors, creative people outside the system and women who were on the outskirts of the public for a long time.

“It is more a philosophy than an art movement”, explains Goran Stojcetovic, the founder of Art Brut Serbia Association and internet portal

In comparison to his predecessor who brought this “raw” art to light, Stojcetovic not only presents the works of the members, but he also exhibits with them, although he graduated from the faculty of Arts and built up a recognizable name in his “previous” life. He does it believing that he can sometimes learn more from his “anonymous” colleagues than he can form professors. He can learn how to let his hand go, how to cast aside rationality and create exclusively intuitively and naturally without academic directives, without any rules or myths of official culture. While we are starting the interview, he is “taking Joskin Siljan’s class”, a part of whose huge production is exhibited in Cvijeta Zuzoric Pavilion.

At the same time, he is being my guide through the world of untamed images. “The very thought of painting a picture frame like Joskin struck my mind so many times, but then the education instructed me to define my drawing, to make it scholarly,” Stojcetovic admires Siljan’s courage and artistry. Siljan’s lively expression also characterizes his pictures, sometimes like Dubuffet, sometimes like Klee or Baskiat.

All those geniuses are to be found in the works covering the walls of both floors of Cvijeta, exposing unusual titles like “I want to be a person” or “He’s not mine, but he’s kinda cute”. “This is by far the best exhibition in town, and not only at the moment, but for a long time to come”, he praises the author, but also expresses criticism because such an exhibit has received no media attention. 

Considering that he regularly visits art exhibitions in Belgrade, and knows the participants in the visual world of art, he probably finds it highly unusual when an artist speaks about a colleague with so much piety and takes genuine interest in what and how they create. “When I meet a kindred artistic spirit, I feel less alone,” Stojcetovic explains. Because whatever weirdo an artist may be, they always yearn for communication. “An artist’s world never belongs only to them, it belongs to all of us to share,” he adds. 

He reminds us that the freedom contemporary artists own to Marcel Duchamp and the like, to moustache on Mona Lisa and his urinals as artifacts, has been gained after centuries of service to the Church, and later to the aristocracy and wealthy clients. Academically speaking, Art Brut is the only enduring sprout of Romanticism based on equality. It survived only because it “hid” in the works outside the official focus and “colonialism” of curators. 

“Culture is the most artificial thing there is,” Stojcetovic has a very clear stance about what is imposed on us as a value. It especially goes for our culture, which has always been under patronage of the esteemed “French”, at ease although lagging behind Paris.

Under these conditions, how can you not want to be a part of the margin, which is the only depth according to Stojcetovic? It is the only honest creativity, without aspirations to gain likes. What is more, Stojcetovic, nicknamed Goksi, makes considerable effort not to be “used” by the curators – he works on decomposable materials, not with classic art tools, but with twigs, nails and fingers. He makes sculptures out of foodstuffs, he makes installations out of roasted pigs, which also have a “decaying” character and he puts trash bags on his head in his performances. “People often wonder why I rather talk about other people’s works than about my own,” he ascribes his humility to the enthusiasm about “raw” art movement. 

It’s been ages since he had enough of this “I”, when he also founded an association of various representatives of Art Brut and also a public medium, the internet portal. So he became a part of a much bigger story, even, mission; he put himself into service to a higher purpose.

The personal and artistic story of Goran is not simple, but rather complex, prolific, and full of significant experiences that culminated in his Art Brut expression.

He spent his youth in Urosevac, Kosovo, always oscillating between the passion for art and music studies and the rejection of social norms and authority. Goran enrolled into the Academy of Art in Pristina, and by 1997, developed a strong interest in how an in-depth psychological analysis of artistic expression changed the character of his inspiration and the shape of his work. Following the 1999 bombing, Goran left Kosovo and was given a refugee status. He says that that period was the most productive of his life, because it led to “the rebirth of the desire”.

Dedicated to the study of Jungian psychology and the Klee theories, Goran reunited Danijel Savovic, a Belgrade soldier, whom he had met during the 1999 bombing, and a former student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade. The meeting gave birth to an artistic collaboration that brought the two artists to showcase their work together in the exhibition entitled “Project Zero” at the Belgrade Institute for Cultural Development in 2002. Two years later, Goran was invited by the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade to hold a workshop for the orphaned children in Sremska Kamenica. Subsequently, the artist will continue to hold similar workshops involving young people with disabilities in Belgrade. Meanwhile his formal experimentation goes beyond the limits of classical art, to include materials such as body fluids, and its influenced by his previous experiences of systematization found in the study entitled “On Deep Psychological and Associative Analysis in Art Expression”.

The collaboration with the Pristina People’s Theater in Kosovska Mitrovica sparked an interest in the performance design in him, which then resulted in two performances at the Studentski Kulturni Centar in Belgrade, where he showcased the dramatization of the act of drawing. Meanwhile, music has increasingly become an integral element of his creative process. His performances became “the world’s fastest designs” as a result of a creative exchange with the musicians on stage. In January 2013, when he finally overcame his problems with alcohol, Goran also decided to make another change in his life by founding the Art Brut Serbia group. In his personal and creative history, the Group is a reaction to the energy accumulated by a subconscious reaction to his “nonsense” which then materializes with a specific mission through Art Brut, and becomes an infinite field of creative expression and personal development.

Convinced that the succession of war conflicts has permanently shaped so much of his life and the life of the people around him, he began to systematically investigate the relationship between individuals, war, trauma and companies, which led him to hold workshops for children in Kosovo ghettos, as well as for young Serbs and the Roma, civilians, and KFOR soldiers, as well as to collect the works by artists and ordinary citizens affected by the NATO bombing in 1999, organizing exhibitions and meetings to discuss the role of creativity in times of war. Meanwhile, the Art Brut diffusion process continues, involving the Museum of Naïve Art in Jagodina and experimental art center at Matrijarsija in Zemun.

Since February 2015, as the head of the Art Brut Studio, Goran has been researching the relationship between art and psychology at the Psychiatric Clinic of the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade. In collaboration with the Stab Gallery in Belgrade, he put together the first Art Brut Balkans Salon in 2016.

Alongside the visual arts newsroom, there are also science, music and literature newsrooms on the portal. The last two have not been updated regularly because the editor is overloaded with materials. There are so many tunes from the “flea” markets and other markets, so many songs to soothe the soul, so many love letters, postcards, school papers, all collected from one single source. “This collection alone is an artifact,” Stojcetovic is convinced. The science section engages psychologists and psychiatrists, who cooperate with the association. In a year, the website has gained more than 5,000 regular visitors, while the art group has more than ten members. Goran alone writes the presentations of works, because there still are no theoreticians who would be interested in it. 

Stojcetovic connects his tendency toward group performance to one of his traits he showed even as a child. Namely, he has always gathered people, starting from his hometown Urosevac to his current home, Belgrade. However, all those people have always been peculiar, an alternative to the molded mainstream culture withstanding the matrix. “I have always been considered a positive guy with crazy energy, and I have felt like an excited alien observer,” he interprets the thing business people call leadership. He treats academics, thieves and murderers in the same manner, seeking the core of goodness, the potential of humaneness. His recipe is – understand the evil from the inside – only then can you go further. “If you don’t pay attention to the distortions of the soul, you create evil… to yourself and others,” he elaborates on the two-faced force. 

That is why it is no wonder he built such a versatile group, the basis of common performance, the way out of frustrations. The work at psychiatric institutions helps him penetrate into the visual elements coming from the sphere of profound suffering, comparing them to the general socio-political state of the planet. For that reason he visited Art / Brut Center Gugging near Vienna last summer. 

Located in the woods, the Gugging Museum is also a residence with the capacity of accommodating 12 people, in need of social and medical care, which is generously provided here. Respecting the original artistic expressions, the Center also makes its beneficiaries famous. In this way, the significance of this highly appreciated art brand has been increasing outside our country. “The provided conditions make you never want to get out, although everything is accommodated to the creativity of the psychically ill,” Goksi remarks with a smile. He smiles because he essentially understands the power of creation coming from an afflicted soul, or the revolt against being misunderstood, which is more often the case with local art brut creators. 

In highly organized societies, cultivating marginal art is not such a huge project as a similar tendency here, where even the ones highly ranked in the art hierarchy are not wealthy. Others, the ones lower in rank, can hardly make ends meet, so that while they do not paint or sculpt, they do all kinds of work to earn money. “When there is a will, there is a way,” Goksi is very enthusiastic. He is even ready for a voluntary engagement, which does not make any money, but builds lasting friendships. That is how the network of contacts and services is made. 

Bright future awaits the local art brut artist, Stojcetovic is convinced. There will be times when it will be absurd to begin artist biographies with “studied at such-and-such University, with Professor such-and-such,” there will be no competitions, galleries, academies, sophisticated craftsmanship, prizes or a system…

The art will more and more reveal its therapeutic and emotional power, all of what is a part of the new art manifesto of marginal artists. It sound utopian, but as all revolutionary ideas, it exhilarates and permeates the whole being.

It was futile to come up with a different name for an art group, and pretend it to be about the 20th century avant-garde artists. Jean Dubuffet had already said everything that had to be said about Art Brut. People will be able to find a meaning in it only if it has a healing effect on them. No historical context of art can penetrate empty souls of the future”.


By Dragana Nikoletić

Anneliese Michel was a girl from Germany who died in 1976, at the age of 23, as a result of the several-month-long exorcism performed by her parents and two priests (Анелизе_Михел)

By drawing on an overhead projector with unconscious movement of the hand, with the help of light and shadow, I have discovered a new psychological-visual content that otherwise I would not have discovered at all. This is a laboratory experiment of sorts where I used drawings reflected on the wall which I continued painting on while exploring associativity and form.

When drawing on the overhead projector I used markers, nails, rope, wire, a battery operated spider, pills, matches, a fly and a butterfly which were drawn to the light of overhead projector.  I used the black and white colours because I wanted to discover artistry of the visual conceptual totalities that these two colors represent. Later, I lit a drawing and put the fire out when and where I found appropriate. In the end, I was joined by my fellow artist Danijel Savovic who had an idea to paint an arc around the image / drawing.

The whole action was accompanied by the original audio recording of the sick Anneliese for 80 minutes.

Camera and editing: Milena Vukajlovic

INEX FILM, Mali club – Belgrade, 05.07.2014

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This post is also available in: Italiano

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