Travel Provisions for Ivan Radman
As an artist staging his first exhibition, young Ivan Radman is presenting his talent with monochrome drawings on paper, a technique that aspires to maximum simplicity and originality. The choice of motifs is also extremely meager and demure; they are landscapes from his native region, scenes in which cliffs descend into the sea, where the furrows of the coastline overlap with the rhythm of waves, where the sea's horizon is locked in an embrace with the endless sky. The dates accompanying the signatures confirm that all of these works emerged in one breath, so to speak, in direct contact with the object of observation, in an immediate transcription of visual and emotional impressions like a journal that chronicles a sojourn in a place near and dear to the heart.
Monochrome is modest, but reductiveness can be wonderful. The façade of non-pretentiousness conceals an indisputable contemplative and meditative affinity, a need to extract the essence from what is seen. Radman's need to condense and his inclination toward clarity must be compared to the Franciscan or the Zen Buddhist approach to the phenomenon of nature. But, precisely due to his orientation as a painter, he feels and interprets this phenomenon primarily within the categories of light and shadow, form and limits, solids and voids, black and white. Given that he recognizes Vaništa's example as a model, it is clear that he sees drawing as a form of conjecture on some sort of inner harmony, penetration into the metaphysical order, the establishment of an immanent system and structure.
The coastal scenes from Punta Skala near Petrčane provided Radman with the material he needed to create the organic tension of lines and blurs, to weave an unconventional network of thick knots and broad stitches in the delicate confrontation of the horizontal and vertical, to extrapolate from an abundance of data only the coordinates of spatial trajectories and loci of overlapping light. To be sure, the surface of the sea provokes a more balanced response by the hand, while the relief of the cliffs prompt a more nervous hand-stroke and the representations of underbrush create spasmodic hubs of darkness. In any case, one can say that Radman does not aspire to beauty or virtuosity in his drawing, nor to some sort of scenographic tricks to emphasize the depth of his settings. Rather, using a masterful accumulation of corresponding tones and graphic values, he achieves the full expressiveness of otherwise minimum interventions in the scene.
Once I had the opportunity to see Radman's drawings based on urban and architectural motifs. The constructiveness and geometry of his subjects compelled him to employ an even more restrained and objective style, to depict a clear dialogue between neutral shading and ostentatious white voids. This expressive ability even in a completely different morphological mode does not undermine his predilection for clarity and essence, but rather only highlights the possibility of achieving uniqueness from a completely different angle. Moreover, it testifies to a sound understanding of disciplined specifics: when using graphite he emphasizes the equality of illumination, while when using charcoal he is more inclined to make the surface flutter, or vibrate. He perhaps found a certain synthesis of these refined polarizations in the triptych/cycle called "Sound of the Sea," which emerged from a definitive extraction of some seaside motifs at Petrčane. The strict lines accompanied by the soft gradation of layers is very near abstraction and, even more so, something suggested by the title: a synthesis of visual and auditory rhythms, and even an attained autonomy of signs with some transcendent meaning.
There is nothing to indicate a beginner in Ivan Radman's start; one can only ask whether it is possible to go further with this unpretentious manner while not betraying the level of purity already achieved.
F.C.A. Tonko Maroević
Fellow of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts