Zoran Popović, Self-portrait at 5 Years and 7 Months…

Zoran Popović, Self-portrait at 5 Years and 7 Months of Age, the Enthralling Smell of Grass in the Summer of 1950 in Village Majdan at the Slopes of Rudnik Mountain, Shumadia, Serbia




Working on this drawing, I thought,


A ludic moon, a dreamy childhood.


A rabbit, fright, trepidation, fear.


A deer, desire (later I read somewhere that our medieval monks used to write ‘my deer’, which meant ‘my desire’).


A bee, altruism, leadership in values, inborn program.


A Young tree, a memory of a young tree on one of Raphael’s paintings (Raffaello Santi, 1485-1520; a young tree is a leitmotiv in Raphael’s painting). Something made me display a Young tree bending in the southern wind. It is the most elastic being in this drawing. Perpetuum mobile of early youth, which is, only when looked at from the side, beautiful.


A young tree, the spring of life, the Beautiful.


When drawing a Spruce Tree, in front of my eyes floated a watercolor of the Pine (c.1495-1497), by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).


Fir and Pine, a late phase of life, the Sublime, something dark, unknowable, opaque.


As everything in nature is in the exaltation of the soul: Beautiful and Sublime.


The summery magic is unfolding, as it does in summer in its extended order of time: late, warm summer afternoon drenched in sunshine, intoxicating smells of grass and the sound which fades in the distances, imperceptibly blends into twilight, into the time of day without shadows, in all-encompassing relaxation. And everything, subsequently, no less wondrously, slips into gloaming, early evening, evening, and, this time, a dark night.


The calming of the day in the paradise landscape in the midst of Šumadija, on the slopes of Rudnik Mountain, in Majdan, the native village of my father. The village, in that year of 1950 still wasn’t electrified. Us four brothers (I am the oldest), in the small orchard, tirelessly jumped in the silky grass. We easily caught the velvety cockchafers in flight to release them immediately. Until darkness, we were, like cockchafers, hyperactive, drowsy from the force of jumping and turning. We continued the play for some time, in the light of a lantern, which they brought for us and hung in the tree.


However, something in me, all this time stood on the side, calm, immobile, memorizing precisely, to the smallest detail, every moment of my ecstatic intoxication with sensory surrounding, which was created by the allegedly disinterested nature: endearing warmth of air and earth, calming sounds, enthralling smells, fascinating escapist images of nature.


The lying female figure: warm earth.


Me with eyes wide open, autism, withdrawal into the self, over-developed fantastic-dreamy inner life.


My long nose is a metaphor for enthralling smells of earth and grass with the dominating smell of thyme. Indescribably invigorating.



Belgrade, 1990.