First published: Summer 2024
Hewn from the oak of their homeland, the work of father and son, Dragiša and Milan Stanisavljević, has a primordial quality that continues to inspire


The old Slavs considered wood a deity and made wooden figures of the gods in order to propitiate their will. The oldest and most beautiful oak tree in the immediate vicinity of a settlement would be the field altar, the so-called “legacy-tree”, a gathering place, where important events in the lives of the locals were marked. The urge to shape the tree, honouring its primary form, transforming ideas into a creative entity, indicates a revival of the collective-unconscious as a cult-like respect for the primordial union between Man and Nature.


Milan Stanisavljević (far right) with his mother Stana and father Dragiša, 2003; photo: Mario del Curto


The bond with trees and wood has been integral to the life, and life’s work, of the Stanisavljević family from Jabučje, a village near Valjevo in western Serbia. For father and son, Dragiša and Milan, the creative process began with the ritual of discovering sunken, 100-year-old oak trees and pulling them from the riverbed of the nearby Kolubara. The black oak had its own history and legend; the effect of water, wind, air, river sand and stones imposed a new shape upon the former trunks; made them harder, more stable. Time added a dark patina.


My Coffin, 1987, 76 x 52.5 x 13 in. / 193 x 133 x 33 cm


Respecting nature as a primordial master, Dragiša Stanisavljević released his ideas into the wood – using a metal tool he had made himself – shaping the material into simple forms, creating universal messages. His artistic expression did not arise from any existing aesthetic or theoretical principles; it relied solely on his own impulses.


Woman – Object, 1980, 31.5 x 76.5 x 30.5 in. / 80 x 194 x 77 cm




This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #119.

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