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Essay
ololo To live surrounded by pictures and to look through them at the cosmogonic beginnings of some of our worlds.

This is fairly uncommon: to be writing about the pictures I grew up with, the pictures I live with, the pictures that I look at and through which I look at worlds out of time. They have become an absolutely omnipresent part of my life, a part in which dreams become reality, and reality is transformed into dream. I look at the sea or reality, and hear its sounds, but even when I neither see nor hear it, the sea is nevertheless all around me in the timeless world of Dina Lenkovic (or, my mum) that surrounds me. For in this moment she has become the creator, the primal mother of a whole cosmos full of unusual (or perhaps completely usual) beings and mythological figures, submarine and marine worlds, marble walls and petrified cities that invite us, the observers, with their ruins, calling upon us with their flames. In her pictures Dina depicts some forgotten, long ago seen places in which we strolled in our own long-gone past lives, which we can no longer recall, and yet, perhaps….
Many people have sought an echo of surrealism in them, resonations of symbolism, magic realism, the calm of de Chirico's archaic world, Delvaux's quiet and lonely women, introversion, isolation, the expression of an internal world. Over the years, the same question has constantly been asked about Dina's painting: And what does that mean? A question expressing all the anxiety caused by a search for intellectual contents, let us call it the anxiety of search, with which we are all faced. This question represents a demand for intellectual content, a quest for deliberate symbolism and a desire to understand Dina's artistic intention as expressed in her visual works of art.
Any answer to this kind of question has to be looked for in the actual expression of every artist, and hence of Dina's too, for she presents her characteristic world in a way typical of her, in some kind of counter-question: What do you see, tell me what you see - as she once replied to a viewer long ago while I was still a child. To reply with a counter-question, or some kind of Pythian question, or simply to let pictures tell their own stories? Can we be more than what we see? Long ago Dürer had this to say: "The art of painting can be judged well only by those who are good painters, and to others it is truly hidden, as some foreign language". Do we have to classify where this world of Dina's painting was created, where and when it belongs? We can call it that World that comes into being and vanishes in Dina's imagination, and it is up to us to take it in, or to simply pass by it. The pictures themselves open up for us a glimpse into that oneiric world in which dream and waking are integrated in the visionary process of the creative expression of some other or different vision of objects and nature, of animate and inanimate beings, a vision to which we have so far not become accustomed. A vision that I might make concrete in a phrase of Breton: "spiritual reality comes to take the place of the real external world."
We do not experience Dina's paintings only visually, rather we, or I, experience them as some kind of awareness-training. For what else can I call it? Catching a glimpse of them as we pass, we pause in front of them, and fall deep into thought, wander off into the mysterious nooks of our awareness in search of associations with our own lives, and copy these onto her imaginative world shown on the canvas in front of us. I have seen such observers countless times; I watched them while still a child, wandering at the boundaries of Dina's worlds, absent, and then again extremely present. Sometimes, for a few moments, picture and person would constitute a spiritual unit, and then this link between object and person would break off the following second.
The emotions aroused by Dina's paintings differ infinitely from picture to picture, from person to person. The visionary looks in her pictures for visions, dreams, mystery, the symbolic fulfilment of his or her expectations and a flight from the fears and disappointments in his or her own life. The technician looks for brushstrokes, the tonal scale of the paintings from, let us call it, her blue period, looks for technical pedantry in the aggressive red in the works from the red cycle. But there are not these viewers alone, there are hundreds of them, thousands of them. Each one of them (of us, for I can myself among them) sees Dina's world with our senses.
A world inhabited by sirens, swans, unusual creatures and women, and dream madonnas filling it with the humanity and the aesthetic fluid that enfolds them, encompassing us at the same time, introducing us into a game of the fancy. Through the refined sensitivity that derives from Dina's figures, we draw closer to the source of our own personal senses. The subtle lightness of these female figures and their metamorphosis into woman-fish, woman-fairy or simply into woman is visible in every one of their movements. The sea and sky are omnipresent around them. The sea from which, symbolically, everything derives, the sea into which everything returns, the sky as impenetrable immeasurable infinity, ungraspable and undefined, create in the observer a more intimate relation to Dina's world in sensory form. This world, as such, becomes its own life, creating in itself a new form of mysticism with an introverted sensuality that creates an atmosphere suitable for a flight from our current situation. And as Dina says in one of her poems: "in the evening the morning becomes the evening sky of night in the day of eternity"
Just as one group of images and ideas never completely drives out another, but one develops in the bosom of the other, so the theme of death stretches through Dina's pictures like an invisible thread. Sometimes these depictions of death have all the signs of something that is linked with the ephemeral, with destruction, announcing the total end of everything. But we can also look at it as some kind of dynamic death (as against static death and the final state that it symbolises). It is personified by the skeleton, herald of a new form of life, which on one level marked the end, and is now the precondition for a higher life at some other level. The battle of life and death, which sometimes in Dina's pictures go hand in hand, together, death in the form of a skeleton and death in the form of the maiden, evoking eternity. Eternity as the life of an endless, eternal intensity, without a battle for life and death. "Eternity is the simultaneous and perfect possession of infinite life." (Boethius).

Mirela Lenkovic
The author has degrees in Polish literature and language and in the history of art.