Radenko Milak (born 1980) analyses the role of contemporary image production in the formation of our historical and cultural memory. The Bosnian artist’s painting work centres on questions relating to how visual elements are fixed and stored – both in personal memories and as presented in the media of film and photography.
Paintings, drawings, watercolours and – as of recently – animations are the preferred means of expression employed by Radenko Milak. He finds his material in print media and on the internet. In his watercolours and oil paintings, he transforms templates from films, reports or press images into small, intimate artistic scenarios. These in turn can trigger memories of facts and stories in the minds of the beholder but at the same time can also be seen as autonomous narratives.
Milak’s images highlight the mechanisms through which our historic and cultural memory is formed in the media age. In doing so, he not only looks to major historical and political narratives but also draws on a patchwork of personal, popular stories. A prime example of this is a watercolour from the Unfinished Stories series (2012-13). Created only with black pigment, the picture leads the beholder into a small room directly in front of a large window that takes up almost the whole picture. Through the right-hand window casement, one looks out onto a blurred cityscape with apartment blocks and implied green spaces; the left-hand one is covered by a half-transparent curtain. Positioned at an angle in front of this is a small television set that has been turned on. It is not clear whether the watercolour is based on a film still or whether the image recreates a situation actually seen by the artist. The scene also calls to mind a classic subject of 19th century interior painting. In this contemporary “window picture”, Milak explores the state of modern individuals and their relationship, as seen through their eyes, with the outside world – which, through television, has already penetrated their intimate space.