Dušan Otašević was born in Belgrade in 1940. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1966 in the class of Professor Ljubica Cuca Sokić. Since 1965 he has had around fifty solo shows and participated in numerous group exhibitions in the country and abroad. He worked on scenography for theater plays. From 2000 to 2006 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade. He has been a member of the Association of Serbian Artists (ULUS) since 1967. He was elected a corresponding member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2003 and became full member in 2009. Since 2011 he is the Director of the Gallery of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
He has received many awards: Politika Award from the Vladislav Ribnikar Fund /1985/, Award from the Ivan Tabaković Fund /1992/, October Salon Award /1993/, City of Čačak Award /1994/, Mića Popović Award/2000/, ULUS Award /2001/, Sava Šumanović Award /2002/, City of Belgrade Award/2004/, Milan Konjović Award /2010/, Captain Miša Anastasijević Award /2014/
His works can be found in many museum and gallery collections as well as in private collections locally and abroad. He lives and works in Belgrade.
Six tangrams and more…
The unusual story that Dušan Otašević develops at this exhibition – about a grain of wheat, Pythagoras, six tangrams and a few other things – has its origin in the Eleusinian mysteries. Mysteries, founded in the city of Eleusis, in the Mycenaean period, remain among those obscure and unfathomable secrets of our civilization. Almost two thousand years after they were established around 1500 BCE, those cult celebrations were always held at the beginning of autumn in honor of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The goddess of agriculture, fertility and protector of the fields, Demeter was most often depicted with a sheaf of wheat. Hence, the focus of this exhibition is precisely on the grain of wheat, on the kind of focal point that opens up insights into the flux of becoming and disappearing, continuous change, from the change of seasons, the intertwining of one and the many, to death and resurrection. The fragment that the artist placed at the very beginning of the exhibition points out that Pythagoras is also associated with the Eleusinian mysteries, which shows that this ancient philosopher was no stranger to insights that elude scientific and mathematical approaches.
It seems that it is important for Otašević to point out that only by displacement beyond colloquial divisions on traditional disciplines does the space for essential insights open up, when the hidden and elusive outlines of the mystery of life begin to emerge. To that extent, in his approach, a grain of wheat is transformed into an unusual tangram (“seven skill panels”), which has its starting point in this Chinese puzzle from the time of the Sung dynasty. The classic, square tangram consists of seven parts (two large right-angled triangles, one medium-sized triangle, two small right-angled triangles, one square and one parallelogram), which are called “tans” and which from it is possible to form certain shapes in the form of contours or silhouettes.
Otašević’s tangram, unlike the classic one, emerges from the oval shape of a grain of wheat, which enables assembling unusual figures, that have their origin in the very source of life, which was sought after in the Eleusinian mysteries. From this unusual life tangram, Otašević creates figures such as a goat, a pig, but also Demeter herself… on whose “tans” are “notes”, or drawings, which outline the map of the world, the “cornucopia”, or dancing bodies etc. Additional inscriptions can be found on the tangram figures, whose presence makes visible the hidden lines of the web of life, which in this case is woven around the grain of wheat. Different elements are tied into that web; from the sacks in which wheat is stored, the windmills in which it is ground, to the Last Supper, where a terracotta grain of wheat is placed in front of each participant. Undoubtedly, Otašević strives to outline an endless and subtle intertwining that arises between the one and many, the understanding of which we never cease to seek after, from the Eleusinian mysteries to modern science. What remains present all the time, for thousands of years, is the constant need to think at a certain point in life about the secret of life that is sometimes hidden in just one grain of wheat. To that extent, any pondering or meditating about this grain is what opens the unusual intertwinings of the lines of life, the secrets of which we may not fully fathom, but whose meaning, despite this, we will never stop searching for.
dr Jovan Čekić
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11000 Belgrade, Serbia
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