Orce Nineski

OrceNineski introduces his new painting series titled “Boards,” created over the past few years. His inspiration comes from his role as a fresco painting curator at the Museum of Macedonia, where he closely observed the intricate process of icon conservation, both at the museum and the Institute for the Protection of Monuments.

What captivated him most was the visual and sensory impact of the preparatory procedures. Icons, partially covered with various canvases and foils, would be laid out, seemingly helpless, on the conservation tables. Over these surfaces, arranged with meticulous order, there was an array of boxes and cans filled with chemicals, varnishes, paints, shellacs, and chalks. Lenses, squeegees, brushes, rivets, nails, and other essential tools were all carefully placed, serving in silence, as conservators with extraordinary attention, delicately removed newer layers of paint to reveal the oldest, most authenticlayer of the icon, which is supposed to be the most valuable.

Nineski’s work captures the essence of this process, transforming the meticulous and almost ritualistic practice of conservation into a visually compelling narrative through his art.

Nineski observes, “Small rectangular probes are left behind from the newer layers which are roughly cut at the edges of the icon’s surface, bearing witness to a parallel history of the icon.” This “archaeological” quest to uncover the authentic, valuable layer of the icon involves exciting moments of revelation, but it is not without risks due to the complexity of the procedure.

The artist realizes that these conservation techniques and technological finesses exert their own influence, often fermenting in enigmatic, almost steampunk performances. This is evident in his Boards, where various original fresco fragments are captured, each telling a content-rich story.

Nineski’s paintings are dominated by flat shapes and spaces. Broad chromatic surfaces are meticulously arranged, marked by precise drawing that defines calm and harmonious surfaces. These flat surfaces, exuding a “sterilized” purity, are laid out in a static rhythm on horizontally or vertically placed canvases. Sometimes, they are dissected in a cubistic manner, similar to Juan Gris’s works, or painted illusionistically, resembling miniature object motifs. Small geometric figures with a decorative flair bring a certain liveliness to these still surfaces, reflecting Nineski’s admiration for Paul Klee’s paintings and Mark Rothko’s abstract landscapes.

The exhibited paintings, crafted with acrylics, consist of simple elements and soft geometric forms that stand apart from the initial object references of the “obscured” iconography lying on the conservation table.

How is one painting created? It is an emotion, but also a secret. Picasso once said, “Abstract art is the painting itself.” He further elaborated, “Abstract art does not exist. One always has to start from something. Then any kind of resemblance to reality can be removed. After that, there is no danger that the idea of the object has left an indelible trace. It is the object that excites the artist, stimulates his ideas, and stirs his emotions.”

Nineski attests that his process begins with spontaneously applying different layers of paint. Gradually, through various changes, he constructs a clear, strict composition. Drawing remains the foundation at all stages of image creation. Nineski strives for order and harmony through clear forms and warm chromaticism. He seeks to bridge modernism, which emphasizes the surface and encourages a new perspective, with tradition, drawing inspiration from the abstract-symbolic idiom of medieval icon-painting and fresco-painting. His style discreetly and receptively blends into a kind of abstract-surreal “pop-art.”

At times, his work evokes the pictorial abstract iconography of Serge Polyakov. Nineski also acknowledges the influence of painters like Cole Morgan, Gerardo R. Caro, MiroslavaRakovic, and Paul Balmer, all of whom have shaped his creative vision.

In recent years, alongside his painting, OrceNineski has actively engaged in creating illustrations for children’s picture books. He has successfully collaborated with Ars Lamina – Publications on the “New Fairy Tales from Macedonia” and “Love at First Word” series, including children’s books like “Oceania” and “The Horse from the Carousel.” The texts are short and readable, tailored to the children’s age, with illustrations that closely follow the themes of the text.

Nineski adheres to the intended artistic features of the illustrations, expressed in a refined and descriptive form. His work features carefully selected characters, various elements, and motifs that occupy a larger area of the page. The artistic and graphic design, with illustrations that showcase distinctive elements of the children’s world—naive fantasy and dreams—are crafted with solid forms and dynamic, playful expressiveness of stylized characters. The bright coloration of these elements enhances the appeal of the publications.

In Nineski’s art, the seamless blending of illustrative techniques into painting and painting techniques into illustrations has become increasingly evident and captivating. This unique fusion enriches his work, making it more engaging and visually appealing to young readers.