WHEN I DRAW, I ENJOY DRAWING EVERY SINGLE LINE
POLITICAL CARICATURISTS HAVE PLENTY OF HUMOUR TO SPARE, ARE ARTISTICALLY GIFTED, AND POSSESS A VAST EXPERIENCE IN JOURNALISM. WENDER HOFMANN CLAIMS THAT, AS A PARTNER WITHIN THE DIALGOUE, PISMESTROVIC PLAYS THE ROLE OF A ‘QUESTIONING, AFFIRMING, AND PROVOKING’ INTERLOCUTOR. PETAR PISMESTROVIC POSSESS ALL THE TRAITS OF A POLITICAL CARICATURIST WORTH HIS SALT.
He’s an art satirist in constant evolution, accompanying a profession that has been around for a good 400 years. The idea behind caricatures derives from the Italian verb ‘caricare’ (load, exagerate) and has been known as an artistic term since the late 16th century. The first productions were portraits, first seen within the literary and artistic circles of the Caracci Brothers in Bologna. As a novelty and artistic curiosity, the caricature spread slowly across all of western Europe.
Every caricature is a new challenge he tackles with passion and determination.
Political caricature blossomed around the second half of the 18th century in England. Around that time, caricatures began to fully comprehend their social functions and duties, thus becoming a highly effective tool of critique and were used to form a general opinion about something. The development of political caricature was linked to a certain extent to freedom of press and speech as well as the possibility of imitating. Even today, caricatures still are an essential element of an extensive political reporting culture that still manages, just like in the past, to promote open debates and focus on social issues.
Petar Pismestrovic is a caricaturist who knows about the art form’s possibilities as well as how to best use the medium for his own needs. To him, being a caricaturist is more a vocation than an actual profession. He was born in Sremska Mitrovica (the former Republic of Jugoslavia) and started working as a caricaturist in 1970 after studying political science in Zagreb. In 1991, in the wake of the civil war, he left Croatia with his family. He’s been living in Austria ever since. In 1992 he started working for the Kleine Zeitung, yet his caricatures are also published in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune; his works are showcased at exhibitions and he has been awarded countless prizes.
‘Caricaturists always go against the grain,’ said Pismestrovic in an interview and hereby stresses the outsider role of caricaturists, being voyeurs of sorts, commenting political and social developments. Taking a step back creates objectivity for Pismestrovic, which doesn’t mean he’s excluded from participating emotionally in political events. When F. W. Bernstein describes caricature as a composition of graphics, critique, and comedy, what should be added to the mix when thinking of Petar Pismestrovic is passion. Observing and taking a stand on political events, day in and day out, requires stamina and tenacity. Every caricature is a new challenge he tackles with passion and determination.
His pen and ink drawings are editorial cartoons in the best sense of the word. Trenchant commentaries that succinctly illustrate complex themes. In his colourful portrait caricatures the resemblance of the subjects is just a means to an end. Using targeted alientation, he succeeds in depicting the traits and weaknesses of political figures and people within society with subtle humour.
His extensive interest in international politics is at the heart of his work as are his analytical skills. Humour and caricatures offer him the ideal journalistic freedom to make his statements, while the formal execution when drawing and painting gives him great pleasure. ‘When I draw, I enjoy every line,’ says Pismestrovic. And we believe him. His caricatures make unseen connections visible, show up the deplorable state of affairs and thus become an important tool used to criticise and shape one’s opinion. He continues to critically question the role of the caricaturist and, by doing so, he also questions his own work. Pismestrovic has found the ideal medium of self-expression in caricature on the back of his expressed interest in politics, thus making him one of the most important political caricaturists in Austria.