Death Dealer: Homage to Frazetta, Oil on board, 211/2 X 281/4 inch, 2012/2013
My homage to Frazetta is finally finished and although it has often been said that a good painting does not need the explanation, I do feel compelled to say something about one particular aspect of this piece. My intention was not to make a copy of Frazetta’s character. My intention was to do a homage to the master by projecting his famous character onto my world and let it go through the prism of my own vision. The essence of my interpretation has been most correctly expressed by a good friend of mine and a fellow artist who, upon seeing the painting, commented:“ Ah, you are on their side as well…!” Another spot-on remark I heard from another person was: “This is perhaps the lightest Death Dealer painting I have ever seen, butstill the darkest Death Dealer, for it appears to me that HE is the bad guy!”
The Death Dealer series, as it is the case with much of Frazetta’s art, reflect a typical black-and-white approach to the relationship between good and evil, and it is presented in a simplified and rather straightforward manner. Death Dealer’s foes are evil savages who are here to be slain (punished for whatever they stand for), while Death Dealer’s job is to make sure it is properly and thoroughly done. Generally speaking, I think this aspect of Frazetta’s art is not only connected to the certain archetypes and the stereotypes of his time, but it also reflects something of the preconceptions, general aspirations, prevailing ideologies, the impact of major conflicts, etc. of the 20st century.
The times have changed, as we know . We don’t live anymore in a black-and-white world (we never did, by the way, this is one of many misconceptions man has to deal with). We now live in a Grey, more complex world, a global village, where the division line between the good guys and the bad guys seem to be fairly blurred. In a way we have become more realistic (I still avoid to use the word “wise” because of the obvious reasons). It has been said that the most popular character from Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings is not Frodo, or Sam, or Gandalf, or Aragorn but Gollum! I think this is a very interesting indication, although a tiny one, and I guess relatively insignificant, for there are much better and more relevant examples. Never the less, this testifies to the shift in the approach of the general public (popular culture) to the concept of good and bad, which apparently has become more flexible.
The underlying notion of my Death Dealer interpretation is supposed to reflect this “new” point of view. The rest of the elements, mostly technical in nature, are derived from this concept.
Petar Meseldžija was born in Novi Sad, Serbia, in 1965. He began his career in 1981, publishing the comic strip "Krampi" in the Stripoteka, one of the best known comic magazines in the country. This was followed by a series of short comics and his work on the licensed comic book Tarzan. He graduated from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, in the Painting Department. During his studies he continued to work on comics, but also more often working on illustrations. In 1991 he illustrated his first book Peter Enkorak, published by Mladinska knjiga from Slovenia.
At the end of 1991 he moved to the Netherlands. Soon after, he stopped working on comics and dedicated himself to illustration and painting.
During the 1990s he painted about 120 posters and greeting cards, mostly for Verkerke Reproduktie from Holland. For Grimm Press, a publisher from Taiwan, he did 33 illustrations for the book King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He held his first solo exhibition of illustrations and paintings in 1998 in the Tjalf Sparnaay Gallery in Amsterdam.
He has participated in many group exhibitions in Yugoslavia, the Netherlands and the USA.
His work has been published in a variety of periodicals and books all over the world.
Among many awards which he received for his work are:
“Plaque The International Golden pen of Belgrade, 1994”, Yugoslavia;
The “Art Show Judges Choice Award” – 59th World Science Fiction Convention, Philadelphia, 2001, US.;
Two Silver Awards from “Spectrum 4 and Spectrum 10 – The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art”, U.S.;
Gold Award “Spectrum 16 – The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art”, U.S.
From the beginning of 2000 he has dedicated himself to gallery art. Of the exhibitions where he has participated, the most worthy of mention is the Exhibition of Independent Realists. This exhibition, organized annually at the Mohlmann Museum from the Netherlands, offers clear insight into the creative achievements of contemporary Dutch artists in the domain of realist and figurative art. In addition to painting, he continues to do illustrations.
Two other significant projects should be mentioned. He painted 10 book covers for books of children's fantasy literature for the American publisher Scholastic Inc. Likewise, he illustrated the Serbian folk take “Prava se muka ne da sakriti”(“Real Trouble Cannot Be Hidden") for Bazar Tales, a publisher from Norway. In his work on the book, The Legend of Steel Bashaw, he has invested enormous time and effort. This project, for him of the greatest importance, was started in 1993. Including shorter and longer breaks, the longest of which lasted 7 years, he has been working on the book for 15 years, finally finishing it in August of 2008.
His original work is to be found in the private collections in Serbia, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S.