| 47 Their works are the legacy of gurative and fantastic ne arts in Serbia, and painter and sculptor Zoran Velimanović, born 1964 in the town of Ćuprija, began sketching to soothe his soul even as a small boy. His parents were lovers of paintings and they hadmanyworks, though they didn’t deal in art. He moved to Belgrade at the age of 14. Like most of his contemporaries, he studied law, partly because he was interested in history and Roman law. “The other parts of that science didn’t attract me and I abandoned my studies. I played guitar in my own rockband,“Varšava”[Warsaw], inBelgrade, andwe toured around Yugoslavia. After that I sold insurance policies, and then antiques. Finding my own way, I lived in Paris, Nice andDüsseldorf. It was there I rst painted, as a hobby,” says Velimanović. Since the mid‘90s he’s resided in Belgrade. He’s also workedas anestateagent. Hestartedpainting inBelgrade after turning 30, and nobody taught him how to do so. “There are no better professors than Picasso, Rembrandt, Bosch. First I painted a little oil on a canvas, “Purgatory”, 1994. I sold it to a neighbour. Then I painted another picture, then another... When I’d gathered around ten, I showed them to Olja Ivanjicki. She supported me andhelpedme stagemy rst solo exhibition,“ColdNight Before A Great Event”, in April 1997. The exhibition ran for just one night at theAstakos Club in central Belgrade, and that evening therewas apolice cordonon the streets due to a national protest.” He avoids people in order to be able to paint as much as possible, because painting is his most important lifepurpose and adventure. His paintings arehis stories, and he sees life like the lm The Matrix. He claims that one should be diminutive and humble, always and in everything, because one who is disillusioned by size is led the wrong way. “Agift for painting is thewill of God, I amhis conductor throughbrushes and canvases. I’magoodmachineof God, a BMWthatwon’t let youdown, but I’mnot thedriver – God is. I paint only what I feel. Sometimes that’s only one picture in a year. I painted“Purgatorium”on a seven-metre canvas over the course of ninemonths in 2007. He is equallydedicated topainting, sketching, sculpting and a camera lens. Two antipodal points – beauty and brutality, passion and death, decline and phantasmagoricism – are permanent features of his work. He doesn’t create sketches for his paintings, choosing instead to immediately create themon canvas. For sculptures he uses sh scales, metal, bone, hair, plastic etc. He’s exhibited throughout Western Europe. “Howdo you nd the right path, when, as thewriter Dantewouldsay, it is composedof the lost? Perhaps I seek it every day by descending to the darkness, the cold and the depths, because that’s actually just what painting is. That darkness, like the night, whichoften so sweetly calls one to sleep, actually gives the spirit of wakefulness and illumination. Itmakes youobserve better, tobemore decisive and more enterprising. That’s where wisdom appears, like a strong light, and where rare, precious and evenmagical knowledge festers. Aman can only get acquainted with himself if he’s brave enough to descend down to his own darkness and depths, to there nd advancements and answers. Only in situations at the limits, when you depart from everything known, can you progress,” says Velimanović. Winter is his time. Hidden in his studio, he spends hours painting. “I paint pictures because I like to, not because I have to. I have no time to lose. One day I won’t regret not having spent more time in Paris or Buenos Aires, but rather that I didn’t paint onemorepicture. I essentiallyonly can’t survivewithwater, air andpainting. I prettymuch live like amonk. Except sometimes there arewomen aroundme, and I dare to smoke and drink alcohol.” His studio feels like his own temple. He also happily gifts picture towhomever hewants. He does sell themto everyone even when they don’t ask for the price. He attends exhibition openings only when he must. He most likes to start painting in the evening, when he’s completed all other obligations. Then he paints for hours. “I learned to relax. Through dreams, considerations, there are signs and symbols to lead us everywhere. We are unimportant as individuals. There are those to take care of the order of things. As I paint, I feel energy, like an ember in a fantastical energetic mosaic. When I nish a picture, that energy dissipates. I paint for myself, not for anyone else. It’s just important for me that I and those dear tome are healthy, and that I paint well. Better times are yet to come for me.When you’re young, you’re too green and sour.”