Original text translated by Slavica Nuić. Pročitaj na hrvatskom.
Having moved to a new flat, it was time to get down to the business of gathering up old furniture, refurbishing it and giving it a fresh coat of paint. My first concern, by all means, were the chairs so that my jolly guests could have something to sit on. Luckily, old chairs, at least the plain wooden ones, were not hard to find, but finding one which was not wobbly was an entirely different matter. Be that as it may, working out a remedy for rickety chairs was put off for the time being. The turning point was a sign that caught my eye at some young designers’ exhibition. It said “The chairs are for display purposes only. Please do not sit on them as they may collapse.” Realizing that a similar sign would come in handy on my dining room wall, we fixed the loose joints to prevent things from going awry.
This whole matter of my rough-and-ready job of fixing chairs had only added to my surprise upon visiting The Museum of Second AVNOJ Session in Jajce. The central hall used to be the place where Yugoslavia drew its first breath. Several rows of dilapidated chairs of all sorts (which once accommodated Yugoslavia’s founding fathers), harked back to the early days of my flat redecoration. Nonetheless, they still had their allure as the light pouring from the back door created shadows that made the chairs look as if dissolved and entangled in an intricate web, creating thus a peculiar scene of the pivotal historic event.
Unfortunately, historical facts are not my strong suit, so I asked the ones known as historically savvy to help me out. At the first mention of these chairs, Luka, the historian, pointed out that it was not without reason that these chairs were so shabby as there was a backstory to it. In his words, many historians have concurred that Jajce had witnessed the complete affirmation of the cult of personality that had been created around Tito. Judging by the original photographs, both the presiding and the delegates were seated on plain wooden chairs while Tito was comfortable in his armchair. Moreover, a couple of days prior to the meeting, Tito had posed for his bust by Antun Augustinčić, which was soon displayed in the meeting room.
For me, my deep fascination with the chairs, deprived of any ideological overtone, in this way made the emptiness of the room even more striking; the room where, as Luka has taught me, once Yugoslavia had been formed and Tito had become its marshal, resolutions had been sustained by general acclamation.
In the process of sketching out the chairs, the first step was capturing the curious rhythm and interplay of shadows through a rhythmical interchange of black and white surfaces.
The process of carving…
And a bit more of carving…
The test print was printed in black, but there was no intent to keep it that way…
This linocut was supposed to be in colour. Since there were some areas of diluted Indian ink on the sketch as well, I first started with tone combinations.
The next step was increasing the number of potential colour combinations, so I detached the top part of the block with a gauge to make the process of applying colour easier.
A new variation…
The first step in the process of making this variation was printing the background in yellow, and the next steps were applying the ink separately on every part of the key block.
And the last variation, which was printed in the same way, combines the positive with negative. Just like my chairs mixed with their shadows.