An Uninterrupted Dream of an Uninterrupted Summer
translated from Croatian by Graham McMaster
As in the novels of Françoise Sagan, in the paintings of Stipe Nobilo there is just one season – summer. Everything else is relegated to it. All other seasons are there only for that part of them that is summer, only with that fare that to the greatest extent can and must satisfy Nobilo’s degree of delight with everything that the sun makes its world. In his headquarters at the top of Vela Glavica, from his observatory, he surveys and waters abundantly with colour all those simultaneous flare-ups, that uninterrupted dream of an uninterrupted summer day. In Nobilo’s paintings there is no night, no shade and there are no people. We see just the traces of their work, the signs of their presences that have given way before the orgy of some archaic divinity that in its holy frenzy seeks to be given everything in return, every word, every thought, every colour in its highest tonal scale, purging everything of anything that might be able to obstruct it in the persistence of its activity.
But people, the way we look at things, know that summer does not last forever, nor fruitful autumn, and that sober winter has to come, with a solitariness of a very different kind, and that in its wake will come joyful and painful spring, which brings so much precisely because it can take away so much with the caprices of its outbursts. People on the other hand, invisible, seek their drowsy siesta, catch some shut-eye, intoxicated with the visions of their dream. It can then sound like a paradox, but the pictures of Stipe Nobilo are both very pensive, in accordance with that ancient truth that after rapture of any kind, a lasting sadness appears, and that every, even every artistic, orgasm, is in fact une petit mort, and that that multilayered expression tristes tropiques refers too to such states. And that is their aliquot speech.
Looking at these pictures, we find a space opening up in us containing the long-since hinted at knowledge that we have not actually been expelled from Heaven to Earth, but, on the contrary, have been left in it and most wonderfully forgotten, just so that nothing should be moved either forwards or backwards, neither gods nor men, plants nor animals, everything to remain forever the way it is; ourselves to remain forever tempted.
The paintings of Stipe Nobilo are ruled by timelessness, that is, time as duration, or just tempo, as in coloured music written according to some de Falla-Ravel style formula penetrated by the blue notes of jazz from the sea, as well as the song of the a cappella group around the church. So are orchestrated those melodious visual rhapsodies. On the performance level, every one of these paintings is a kind of Lumbarda Psephism, written as boustrophedon, alternating from right to left, from left to right, so that it is constantly possible to read in both directions the whole surface of the slab. At the metonymic level this is a constant play of parts for the whole, wholes for the different disunited parts that rhyme with each other according to the metrical principles of the paean. At the intellectual level (and in Nobilo this is a combination of the cordiality of the mind with the intellectuality of the heart) it is an incessant recapitulation of the act of creation, the solemnisation of eternal fertility and flowering.
In all this the artist stands as an absolutist who broods over the essential unchangeability of this world, over its apparent sameness, interwoven into which is the demiurgic play of local colours that are always given. Nobilo then, from his Phaeton’s angle of vision, deploys them just as he will, paying no more attention, as before, to their positioning in the existing landscape, knowing that at the end the ‘real’ will consent to work together with that which he has created, to be at one and equated with it, precisely because it lastingly longs to be and to remain just so.
Ultramarine, light and dark, cobalt blue, cadmium green, emerald green, green chrome oxide, Mars yellow, brown and red, light ochre, lemon yellow, cerulean blue and dove grey, burnt sienna, burnt ochre, like burnt bread, Venetian red, chestnut, madder red, natural umber, vermillion, cadmium orange, cobalt violet, turquoise, white, all the kinds of white; these are Nobilo’s cards on the table of visual poker that he plays quite openly with the Maker. And the stakes are not small – they are the whole of Nobilo’s world, a property that it is not easily gained or lost.