Interview: Milas Ante
Luca Curci talks with Milas Ante during VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2021 – 14TH EDITION, at Misericordia Archives.
Ante Milas, born in 1953 in Croatia, studied painting at Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1980 to 1985. He exhibited his art in Paris‘ Gallery Facade, Cologne’s International Galeria Colonia, Rome‘s Musei San Salvatore in Lauro, Gallery Consorti, Zagreb‘s Galerija Zvonimir, Vatican’s Università Anglo Cattolica San Paolo Apostolo. Currently, he resides in Germany, near Düsseldorf and Cologne.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Milas Ante – This question reminds me of Augustine’s sentence: “If no one asks me what time is, I know it. If someone asks me about time, I no longer know it”. In my opinion, the same applies to art. I can well remember the fascination that our local church – the lights, the frescoes and sculptures of the Saints, the paintings and the singing – had on me as a child. This impressed me so much that I wanted to paint and build sculptures myself. Another source of enthusiasm for art was nature, especially the landscape of my homeland: the plains in Northeast Croatia near the Drava and the Danube; its mysticism, the sunsets over meadows and fields, the bluish forest fringe on the Western horizon, the silver poplars, oaks and wild chestnuts are the source of my inspiration. As a child, I felt especially at home on Christmas Eve: before the midnight mass, people came from everywhere to our local church on sleighs pulled by horses, with fur coats, lanterns and ringing bells. For me, those days were pure “Harmonia prestabilitatis”, an ideal world. It has always driven me to express these experiences in paintings. This theme guided me through all my works. Another essential component of my art comes from the encounter with the modern world of the big cities and the contemporary art of the Düsseldorf Art Academy. The civilizational hustle and bustle with its consumption, the carnival, the festivals, bistros… and everything that goes with it became over time my second home.
LC – What does your creative process look like?
MA – I create a series of paintings. I choose themes that engage me and challenge me artistically. My most important series is “Remembrance of the Old Town” and “The Wave”.
LC – What artistic themes do you pursue and what is your preferred subject, if there is any? Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
MA – The bistrot “Zum goldenen Einhorn” in Düsseldorf’s old town near the art academy was my favorite place. It was the source of my inspiration and the place of new ‘revelations’. Here, I spent most of my free time. A sketchpad was always at hand, just like the tobacco, the espresso and the obligatory press review to write down thoughts, to surreptitiously draw the faces of the ‘long-established’ occupants of the Bistrot or to capture quick sketches of fleeting visitors on paper. It was also my occasion to read the daily newspaper. Six related large-scale compositions of diverse figures and faces were created in the Bistrot. A ‘Pantheon’, a conglomerate of self-asserting, attracting or repelling figures and faces, which occur in space and time without any inner reference to each other – an area-wide ornament of colors and forms, which hold together the insular parts of the picture’s surface. Each subsequent painting remains largely faithful to pattern and composition. However, by emphasizing the figures differently, it reveals a new view of the familiar image. The first painting usually follows the technique of the old masters, and subsequently, the paintings are increasingly abstracted and made with new materials such as plaster, wood relief or a luminous image printed on plexiglass plates. The same method applies to the series of paintings entitled “The Wave”. My first paintings were created before the great floods in Thailand in 2004 and in New Orleans in 2005. They convey the message of humanity’s light-heartedness in the face of the threat of extinction. In the beginning, the “Storm over Düsseldorf” was a panorama of the city seen from the banks of the river Rhine showing a bucolic landscape with floodplains and meadows and the view of the power plant, the Railroad Bridge and the skyline of the city. Due to the dramatic change to increasingly darker colors in the course of painting, the painting took on a different existential, essential character showing the last people, the former paradisiacal couple, looking at the dark storm cloud that is approaching, or the giant tsunami wave from the days of Yucatan.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
MA – ‘Future Landscapes’, as I could gather from your vision, starts with the human being, his desires, imagination and fantasies, which are projected into the landscape or urban space to shape and change it accordingly. In this process, space remains a mere “res extensa” in the coordinate system of the space creators. The ancient Romans were the first to conceive of space in this way. In contrast, the ancient Greeks understood space as a body – as something organic that develops from the inside to the outside. At one point Goethe says that love is what makes a place a place. The landscape is always the landscape of the inside, it is the outer equivalent of the human soul. This in turn is, according to Aristotle, in a certain sense everything that exists. The interconnectedness of psyche and universe, the longing for the unity of man and nature found its expression in all art epochs of the past – from the Renaissance to Impressionism. In Arcadian landscapes by Giorgione, the longing for Arcadia lies in the idyll of nymphs and shepherds, in the completely unsentimental gloom and bleakness of the sfumato in which his paintings are immersed. In Turner’s case, the landscapes are often memories of the “Golden Age” that have become images; the paintings are places of ‘mantic evocation’ of a past myth that could have been, but no longer is.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
MA – In the existence of Itsliquid Group and its Internet platform, I see the appropriate response to the epochal developments – also in the field of art presentation and the art business. In this sense, I also understand the topicality of your questions about the body and space, consciousness, landscape, and the relationship between the universe and the human soul.