Mimi Jaksic-Berger

M i m i   J a k s i c – B e r g e r

Welcome to the Bush

Art is a story, a narrative about the unknown, something you observe that can’t be seen in life but to which you give life.

My painting has developed over many years, having begun my career as a professional artist some 50 years ago. Abstraction, in particular Lyrical Abstraction (which I pioneered in Australia in the early 1960’s), involves the manipulation of paint — action painting, if you like — sometimes layer upon layer and then over-painting specific areas to which I’m called. Colour, vibrancy and life in my work is paramount to my aesthetic. I believe abstraction is the purest and most truthful art, a direct gift from God.

In 1951, Mimi Jaksic-Berger began full-time art studies, obtaining her diploma from the Art College at Pec in 1956. During the summer vacations, she was employed by the Institute for the Preservation of Historic and Cultural Monuments, undertaking fresco restoration for Serbian churches. Subsequently, in 1957-58, she worked as an art teacher and in the art department of the journal Kekec in Novi Sad.

At the age of 22, Jaksic-Berger embarked on an arduous escape on foot from war-torn Socialist Yugoslavia that took her across the Balkan Peninsula to Italy, France and, ultimately, Australia. Arriving in Melbourne in 1959, she relocated the following year to Sydney, where she worked as a commercial artist and designer in the period 1960-67.

In Paris, she had become acquainted with the abstract works of the tachistes, whose emotionally charged, gestural brushwork and splashes of pigment had a strong resonance for her. Adopting this style of lyrical abstraction in 1966, she exhibited work in this manner at the Young Contemporaries Exhibition at the Blaxland Gallery in 1968.

Like the artist-émigrés from Europe whose avant-garde concepts were seminal to the development of the post-war abstract expressionist movement of the New York School in America, Jaksic-Berger would pioneer lyrical abstraction in her adoptive country, remaining its doyenne for more than half a decade.

The recipient of 154 art awards, Jaksic-Berger is represented in public, corporate and public collections, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales; National Gallery of Australia; Queensland Art Gallery; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney; National Gallery of Modern Art, Belgrade; Museum of Modern Art, Skopje; The Phillips Collection, Washington DC; Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York and in the regional galleries of Armidale, Penrith, Wollongong, Muswellbrook, Cooma, Maitland, Lismore and Taree.

She has been a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute since 1968.

Copyright © Australian Watercolour Institute