Liliana Strelec:
The Disintegration of
Communism in Europe, 1996

Millenium Art Gallery, Vancouver
June 9-20

Liliana Strelec
Liliana Strelec, Berlin (1996),
acrylic on canvas

Liliana Strelec began a total commitment to art after moving from Belgrade to Canada in the early 1990s. She is fighting her way to success in what she has found to be “a strictly regulated environment for an artist” with paintings as pure and strong as her memories.

The current series explores the disintegration of communism in Europe in 1996. Strelec has created a robust group of abstracted acrylic impressions of European cities, including Belgrade, Sarajevo, Berlin and Mostar. In the majority of paintings, a montage of buildings, landmarks, thoroughfares and landscapes appear fastened to the lean, flat grounds like the boardgame of snakes-and-ladders. The colours are industrial: mid-tone grays, black, deep signal red and green, with contour lines picked out in black or deep yellow. Some quieter images of inner harbours forego the hard-edged abstraction to capture the elusiveness of cloudy fog and smog on waterways.

A particularly engaging piece entitled “Arabic Variations” places flaming oil pipes, twisted railway tracks and simple pyramids on an illusionist plane that recedes to the illusion of an idyllic desert city on the high horizon. As a response to both stylistic inquiry and lived experience, Strelec’s work is vivid and revealing.

© Mia Johnson