Artist Viktor Mitic is making headlines with his controversial gunshot paintings, which feature portraits of celebrities, iconic religious figures, and famous works or art outlined in bullet holes. Shocked by recent incidences of defacement of sacred works of art by fanatics—for example, the destruction of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban—Mitic’s goal was to use weapons in his art to create rather than to destroy. Guns are naturally perceived with uneasiness, and the image of an artist shooting a painting of an iconic figure carries an intense psychological impact; however, the juxtaposition of beauty constructed out of violence in Mitic’s paintings generates an unexpected feeling of tranquility. In his own words, “Although the process is very loud, there is a sense of peace after the smoke is gone.”
Eleven of the paintings presented in Art or War are accompanied by prose or poetry by a distinguished Canadian author: Erika Ritter, George Elliott Clarke, George Fetherling, Katherine Govier, Catherine Bush, Susan Musgrave, Gary Michael Dault, Barry Dempster, Jim Nason, and Goran Simic. These writers’ creative responses provide an illuminating counterpoint to Mitic’s inspiring and challenging work.
Included as an additional bonus is a film by Laurie Kwasnik of the artist at work, with commentary by Terry Graff, Curator, Beaverbrook Art Gallery; Ryan Grover; Curator, Biggs Museum of American Art; Gary Michael Dault, critic, writer; Charles Pachter, artist; Pamela Edmonds, Curator, Peterborough Art Gallery; Cole Swanson, Curator Living Arts Mississauga; and Ewan Whyte, poet, writer.
Praise for the paintings of Viktor Mitic:
“Sometimes he’s right on and sometimes he’s not . . . Some of it is smartass, some of it is mischievous, but that’s art too.”
—Charles Pachter, Globe and Mail, USA Today
“Provocative art with religious connotations.”
—Peter Goddard, Toronto Star
“Serious painting, but it’s fun . . . there is levity to it.”
—Terry Graff, Telegraph Journal
[He’s] taken . . . an iconic religious image and used a gun on it . . . What next?
—Mark Coles, BBC