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Dušan Otašević

Serbia
b. 1940
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“I make an object in the way a carpenter makes a cupboard. In the way a tinsmith makes a drainpipe. There is no mystery about it. No muse.”

photo: Vladimir Popovic

Dušan Otašević was born in 1940 in Belgrade (Yugoslavia), where he still lives today. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Belgrade in 1966. He has been a member of the Artists’ Association of Serbia since 1967, and participated in the Venice Biennale in 1972. Dušan Otašević has been an associate member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts from 2003 and a regular member since 2009. He is the director of the gallery of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and taught at the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts.

At first he was associated with “New Figuration” in Belgrade, then later turned to pop art and produced sculptural objects. Dubbed Yugoslavia’s “most authentic pop artist”, his early work constitutes a rare example of the influence of Anglo-American pop on an Eastern European artist working under the conditions of 1960s socialism. He has shown interest in everyday objects seen through the lens of irony, based on false sentimentality, kitsch, politics and consumerism. As well, Dušan Otašević was one of the first artists in Yugoslavia to use “quotations”—in a postmodern sense—taken from myths and legends, history and art history, philosophy, film and literature.

Inconsolable Serbia, 2013

painted canvas mounted on wood, 100 x 160 cm

 

His main focus was typical consumer objects, making his work comparable to that of various famous American artists such as Roy Lichtenstein (comics), Claes Oldenburg (large-scale replicas), Robert Indiana (sign painting). Inconsolable Serbia (2013), an object shaped like a magnified and geometrized crying eye, is also an important example of Otašević’s form language and use of symbols, both of which can be seen as parallels with pop art.