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Tome Serafimovski

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Serafimovski comes from a village called Zubovtce, in the Gostivar area, a picturesque place at the foot of the snowy Shar Mountain; from there he has inherited his well-built body, his strong temperament and his persistence. His difficult childhood and the terrors of the Second World War impressed on his child`s mind unpleasant experiences and memories which would, later on, be transformed into a suggestive language of the art of sculpture. Serafimovski showed an inclination towards socially organized activities ever since his student days, but at the same time, he reacted creatively to immediate historical events such as the National Liberation War, then the liberation, the restoration and building of Yugoslavia, etc. Moreover, he is one of those artists who are able to establish an active dialogue with revolutionary events and personalities from the near and distant past of his own and other nations.

Serafimovski, feeling certain about his professional orientation, and convinced that the road he had chosen was the right one, enrolled in the School of Applied Arts in Split in 1953. This is important because of his definite turning to sculpture as a predominant medium during this time of his creative formation. Even more important is the period of his studies at the Zagreb Art Academy, under the tutelage of the well-known sculptor A. Augustinchich, a decisive period for the creative formation of Serafimovski. With the recommendation of his professors, A. Augustinchish and K. Hegedushich, he left for Paris in 1966, and over a period of four years attended the classes of professor Adane at the Academy of Fine Arts. Moreover, he spent three years as an assistant in the studio of the famous sculptor from Argentina Alisia Penalba. It was then that Serafimovski finally decided to stay with his previously taken artistic position, with a respect for classical sculptural values.

After this period of dynamic learning and experience, Serafimovski returned to his country, where he spent some time working as a scenographer at Skopje Television. Since 1970, he has been a director of the Cultural Association of Gostivar, an institution important for the cultural life of this region in Western Macedonia.

Throughout the years, Serafimovski has been tirelessly creating sculptures which reflect the attitude of a committed artist who follows his inner drives, but who is also sensitive to the needs of his social environment.

To attempt to find Serafimovski`s roots of his life-long orientation to sculpture, after an initial interest in painting, several things have to be pointed out. He discovered his predisposition for sculptural expression very early. That inclination was stimulated by the suggestions of his professors at the Split Art School, and later on reinforced by the experience he gained at the Zagreb Art Academy. His first creative results, which date from the second half of the fifties, reflect the Yugoslav modernism of that time, an art which relied on traditional artistic attitudes. That can be seen in the insistence on simplification of objects and stylization of the realistic form, and is present in his first works of art (paintings, drawings, graphics and sculptures).

Painting and plastic elements are interwoven in his works of art; these indicate a kind of a pictorial approach in his life and in the immediate modeling of the sculptural shapes. It can be explained by his affinity for modeling in softer materials, either clay or gypsum, which is present more often than in stonecutting or woodcarving, though he shows his skillfulness in the treatment of the latter two materials as well. Meanwhile, in his search for long-lasting results, Serafimovski uses bronze as a material of the mass; it is heavy hard, dynamic, and imbues the surface with vitality and the shimmering effects of light and dark. The solidity of the mass and the completed unity of the inner rhythm of its elements can sometimes, with one part, press out and resist the space that surrounds it. For Serafimovski, sculpture is a struggle with the clay, while bronze materializes the clay`s action, running, flowing around. This shrewd and immediate approach which contains elements of impressionism and expressionism correlates with the basic creative striving of Serafimovski`s. He seeks unity of form and content. This can be seen in the ways of expression applied to his figurative sculpture, his frontally resolved anthropomorphic forms and entities, in which the thematic layer determines, and is more important than, the layer of plastic phenomena. The central theme and content of Serafimovski`s creative output is the figure of Man, his appearance and how that appearance is sculpturally rendered. His creative life does not, in the context of the classical approach, exhibit essentially different and characteristic phases, for the elements that have changed are the less important ones, such as the way of modeling, the organization of planes or technical questions of inner construction.

Having in mind these points, Serafimovski`s output can be viewed in several thematic cycles (e.g. portraits, figures, monuments) and treated in the manner of a classical realistic approach which has been modified by new realizations and approaches at certain phases in the artist`s life.

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