Olga Jevrić

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“I use material to communicate and shape emotional and intellectual subjects, as well as reflect on life experiences.”

photo: courtesy Handel Street Project

Born in 1922 in Belgrade (Yugoslavia), Olga Jevrić pursued parallel studies in music and sculpture. She initially followed a traditional artistic path by creating figures, portraits and reliefs in the realist tradition of the time. By the mid-1950s however, she began to move away from figuration to develop a unique language of abstraction, and in 1958, she represented Yugoslavia at the Venice Biennale.

Largely made from industrial materials such as cement, ferric oxide, and iron, Jevrić’s sculptures have a brutality and roughness that reflect her formative period in the aftermath of World War II. She described her work as influenced by “war, uncertainty, the slaughter of innocent people, social upheavals, and disorder of all social norms”. Rather than calling them sculptures, she referred to her pieces as “spatial compositions”, suggesting the influence of her musical training. A prolific artist whose work spanned almost six decades, she died in her native city in 2014.

Vertical Composition, 1956

cement, iron, 18 x 9 x 6,5 cm
photo: FXP Photography

Her earliest works, a series of plans for abstract monuments drafted in the early 1950s, were never implemented in accordance with Jevrić’s original monumental vision. This was primarily because the sculptures—or, as the artist called them, the “compositions in space”—were classified under the heading of “high modernism”. In the words of the artist, Jevrić’s works originate from an “architectural system based on dialectical structural principles”, which represented a great leap forward from body shapes to spatial abstraction.