Page 335 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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event. The same holds true for the six hundredth anni- versary of the Battle of Kosovo. Only three other paint- ings dealing with that subject will be briefly mentioned in this study. M. Djilas’ approach to the theme portrays the most traditional of the three and, above all, is pseu- do-Romantic in spirit.60 Two horsemen, mounted on rear- ing horses and engaged in mortal struggle, dominate the center foreground. They obviously symbolize the two op- posing forces—the Turks, represented by a turbanned war- rior on a black horse, and the Serbs, personified by an ar- mored, helmeted knight riding a white charger. The lat- ter, who lunges with his spear at the Turk, is further iden- tified by a shield hanging from the saddle and bearing in a cross field the four S’s, the motto of the Serbian na- tion—“Samo Sloga Srbina Spasava.” in the center fore- ground of the composition, parallel to the picture plane, the body of a fallen Turk and his horse visually separate the two mounted warriors. Ranks of charging horsemen occupy the middle ground, their nationalities identified through their garments, cross-bearing flags, and other similar devices. The sky zone is visually one of the more interesting parts of this composition. its delicate tones of orange and blue contrast clearly with the earthly realm of the battle, appropriately colored in browns, ochers and greys. a skull, the symbol of death, emerges from the or- ange smoke and fire filling the right hand side of the sky. in its placement directly above the Turkish forces, its im- plied symbolism is clear. Contrasting with the dark col- ors of the smoke and fire, a much lighter pale blue and pale orange tint the sky on the left hand side. against this background, an army of darker blue, ghost-like figures stand directly above the Serbian side of the battlefield. The allegory of the artist is clear. They represent the army of resurrected Serbian warriors. although the actual Battle of Kosovo resulted in the defeat of the Serbs, the painter depicts here the hope of ultimate victory.
another interesting work depicting the battle result- ed from competition initiated by the gallery “Vid.” The painting by Ž. Vukelić is very different in nature from the expressive Romantic images already discussed. in his rep- resentation of the Battle of Kosovo, Vukelić uses contem- porary art forms to express his feelings.61 Silhouettes of monsters, men, and a horse’s head dominate the fore- ground, enhanced by colors of deep violet and purple with touches of blue, red and white. The open mouths of the figures seem to be shrieking. The upper register of the foreground, much paler in color, permits the gaze to pen-
60 Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role,” 344–47, figure on page 87.
61 Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role,” figure on page 131. among
other representations of the Battle of Kosovo is the work by František Maly. instead of the more common format in which the two armies confront each other in a side view, Maly portrays a frontal cavalry attack with the horses and riders charging directly at us. Thus, the viewer becomes more psychologically involved with the image. Mi- haljčić, “The Historical Role,” figure on page 101.
The Battle of Kosovo (1389) and Battle Themes in Serbian art
etrate into the far distance through the tall poles bearing crosses and standards. The middle distance plays a lesser role in this painting since Vukelić shows only one part of it—the battling warriors. atmospheric colors of pale buff, orange and green suggest the far distance. On the right hand side, a dragon sits before a tent and, on the left, foot soldiers led by a mounted standard bearer seem to fade into the mist. The cross on the flag identifies this group as the Serbian warriors. Vukelić’s work goes beyond the description of a narrative and, very much like the paint- ing of this subject by Lubarda, becomes a modern icon of war horrors.
Similar feelings are expressed by a surrealistic paint- ing Kosovo done by Radomir Mudrinić in 1989.62 The ho- rizon is high in this impressive image. Between it and the foreground a fierce battle wages between the Serbian and Ottoman equestrian forces and bodies crowd the field. in the foreground representations of the fallen warriors, de- picted in a neo-Realistic style, seemingly break the pic- ture plane and produce a stunning visual effect as if fall- ing from the illusion of the pictorial space into the actual physical space occupied by the beholder. On the right hand side, an apparition of a mounted warrior rises above the battle field. The laid-back ears and bared teeth indicate the ferocity of his white charger, while the powerful rider in armor is depicted faceless. His head is hidden by a bird- like helmet, which may represent either a grey falcon or an owl. in the far distance on the left horizon, two black ravens fly toward the rider. each of these images is envel- oped in a coloristic atmosphere of its own: ravens in dark, smokey greys, the rider in the pale blue, yellow and or- ange of a sunset sky. Below them the battle field is much darker with tones of ocher, burnt umbra and greys pre- dominating and contributing effectively to the symbolism and mood of this work.
in the earlier works by the Serbian artists inspired by the Kosovo themes, it is important to remember that a great majority of Serbian artists of the eighteenth and nine- teenth centuries primarily executed religious commissions because these were more lucrative than portrait paint- ing.63 Such commissions were primarily icons for large iconostases. To execute these the painters had at their dis- posal not only a varied repertory of appropriate subjects and acceptable styles but also a wealth of compositional solutions, which were frequently quite standardized.
an interesting question is whether or not such com- positional formulae had iconographic applications out- side the realm of religious painting. if this proves to have been the case, could it be demonstrated through works which specifically depict the Kosovo themes? This formal migration from the genre of religious to the genre of sec-
63 Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role,” figure on the back of the cover.
Veljko Petrović i Milan Kašanin, Srpska umetnost u Vojvodini od doba despota do ujedinjenja (Novi Sad: Matica Srpska, 1927), p. 72.

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