Milena Dragicevic is a London-based painter, born in Serbia and educated in Canada. Her work draws on this cultural heterogeneity with combinations of deadpan delivery, former-Eastern-bloc imagery and '60s-type Color Field backgrounds. Dragicevic overlays motifs of Communist propaganda--sad-looking plinth sculptures and heroic perspectives on high-diving platforms--onto summarily quoted third-rate abstraction, the kind of striped compositions and drab monochromes that entered the storage racks of middle-American studios 30 years ago. Once ideologically polarized, these disparate modes now share an irrelevance. By putting them together, however, Dragicevic presents us with a discomfiting visual experience.
This show was organized by an artist-curator duo who call themselves Artlab and use a space at Imperial College. Positioned on the end wall of a narrowing space, the 5-foot-square Bronza (2003) depicts the straining forms of a hefty Lipchitz-like sculpture spilling over the edges of a stepped platform flanked by tapering cypress hedges. As if replicating a badly printed magazine spread, this image is bisected vertically and shifted off-register, using a dull palette of ocher and viridian. Dragicevic drew her imagery from old Yugoslav publications, products of a reduced economy.
At 7 feet high, Skoolp-too-ra (2003) is the largest and most complex of the five paintings on view. Vertical black and purple stripes serve as backdrop to three unequal horizontal sections, each featuring a different view of the same curvilinear aspirational sculpture, school of Naum Gabo, perhaps. It is wrapped up in a green tarpaulin in the lowest section, and in the others its looping white surfaces twist through sunlight and shadow. The oil paint is used dryly and sparingly in the unceremonious manner of practiced mural painters.