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The coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing. It has caused sudden changes in all of humanity, but also in nature which seems to be the only one not threatened by the virus. Moreover, nature is thriving now more than ever, both due to it being the middle of the spring, but also because of the decreased presence of those who have been endangering it. How does a painter experience this thriving of nature? Snežana Manasić used nature as inspiration for her exhibition „The Fifth Element“. Water, earth, air, and fire – these are the four elements of nature. The entire cosmos is made of them.
“The artist’s reflection, observation, and emotional charge are actually being hidden behind the Fifth Element. In her artworks, Snežana Manasić explores how the natural phenomena and four elements affect a person, his or her mental and spiritual awakening and transformation together with nature” – a review of director of Akvarijus, Miljana Dunđerin.
Who is the Fifth Element?
“I am the Fifth Element,” Manasić says.
“We have been in self-isolation for more than forty days, but nature is changing, whether we like it or not,” she adds.
“As we can see, even though the man was not (physically) present during these forty days, nature improved through metamorphosis. The way nature thrives and goes through its metamorphosis, despite the man journeying into nature way less than he did before, was particularly interesting for me. Here, I am the Fifth Element that observes all of it, passes it all through its emotions, experiences, and processes them. In fact, creating paintings using its emotional state,“ Manasić explains.
Nature is an element often found in the paintings of Snežana Manasić, who mainly deals with abstract art. She works using sand, glue, and paints – acrylic. The art pieces found in this exhibition have been created on paper, using a combined technique.
According to Manasić, she tried to keep her works from being excessively narrative, while simultaneously preserving the sense of nature in them.
“Since I spent very little time in nature, I had to think and concentrate a lot to transfer it (on the paper),” she adds.
The state of the environment is an issue that has been repeatedly raised in public during the coronavirus pandemic. There is also a belief that the pandemic is, at the same time, nature’s response to human negligence. It seems that, in the time of corona, all humanity is endangered – but not nature.
“Unfortunately, the man has become quite alienated from nature and has forgotten that he is a part of it. If he acts graciously towards nature, nature will give it back tenfold, but if he acts aggressively, nature will reciprocate in the same way,” our interviewee believes.
Apart from nature, self-isolation has taught us another lesson – about freedom.
“I wish that after all that has happened to us, we realized how much freedom means to us. I do not mean in political terms, but freedom in every sense of the word. Freedom of movement, mental freedom, freedom to go out into nature and understand how much nature, in fact, gives us freedom, but also that we are those who are destroying both nature and our own freedom,” Snežana Manasić said in an interview with Alternativna.
Our interviewee certainly knows what freedom means. She has had nine solo exhibitions in Serbia and the region, over 60 collective exhibitions in Serbia, Croatia, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Great Britain, Hungary, and Romania. She participated in over 40 art colonies…
Still, I benefitted from self-isolation, Manasić said, recalling that she completed a large exhibition which you can now visit virtually.
“Every kind of art is a matter of self-isolation. Every artist creates alone with himself, in his own room. When I say my own room, I do not mean physical space, but being with myself, in my body, with my emotions, my soul, my own thoughts. Quarantine did not disrupt anything for me as an artist. The only thing that, to some extent, frustrated me was the inability to move when I needed it. I would end this interview with a truly wonderful sentence – Art is actually a prayer,” Manasić concluded.
The exhibition is organized by Alternativna in partnership with Private Cultural Centre “Akvarijus” as part of the “ArtCult” project supported by UNMIK.
The series of exhibitions aims to present contemporary creativity of fine artists from different national communities, different generations, and different stylistic and poetic orientations, who live and create in Kosovo and the region.