Excerpt from Art or War, “Focus and Vision: Viktor Mitic’s Precise Bullets”

Focus and Vision: Viktor Mitic’s Precise Bullets

Viktor Mitic’s paintings shimmer and move. They look back at you. They hunt you down. Maybe it’s the oil or acrylic, the gold leaf or exotic pigments used. Perhaps, even, the light that emanates from the perfect holes created by his point-blank bullets.

Mitic says that “channelling the proper energy” and “choosing the right ammo” for his bullet paintings is very important, and I believe him. He is classically trained, with the skill of a marksman. Mitic has painted portraits of Jean Chretien, Lucien Bouchard, and Preston Manning. He knows how to please the nervous Conservative, and he can certainly do Traditional with flair. A trickster, and not one to cower from controversy, Mitic has taken a creative stance and begun shooting bullets into his paintings. To date he has shot paintings of Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Benazir Bhutto, John F. Kennedy, and other iconic figures from politics and popular culture. And, as Ewan Whyte writes in his Preface, there is “no scattershot, no wild swing of the gun without thought.”

On a recent trip to Montreal, I stopped in at Drawn and Quarterly Books. I hadn’t been to the store before, but sought it out because I had been thinking about Mitic’s work and Tightrope’s vision of having writers respond to his bullet paintings. I was thinking about how the writers would offer new perspectives and insights, tap into the energy of the paintings, discuss what was triggered (sorry, couldn’t resist) by Mitic’s bullets. I was looking for academic insights for pulling these concepts together. Drawn and Quarterly has a wonderful collection of graphic novels and art books. When graphic novels first came out I remember thinking there was no way they would last—people want “real” literature, not comic books. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The energy of the bookstore was phenomenal. Literature had morphed with art, and apparently I had missed the transformation. The younger generation has whole-heartedly embraced a new way of telling stories and reading text through images. Imagine!


For more information about Art or War or to purchase the book, please click here.

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Art or War | Viktor Mitic

Art or War, by Viktor MiticISBN: 978-1-926639-15-4
Price: $32.95
Pub Date: Fall 2010

 

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.

Click to read an excerpt from Art or War.

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

Posted in A, Art, Catalogue, Fall 2010, Non-fiction | Tagged , , , |