Dragan Malešević Tapi

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Dragan Malesevic Tapi (Serbian: Dragan Malešević Tapi; Serbian Cyrillic: Драган Малешевић Тапи; Belgrade, 1949–2002) was one of the leading painters of Serbian hyperrealism style. By vocation, he was an economist.


Dragan Malesevic Tapi was born in Belgrade in 1949. In his early youth, he started painting as an autodidact. His painting career began when he was seven years old, in the lobby of the building located at 4 Hilandarska street in Belgrade. He copied the comic ``Three Imps``, which his father, a journalist, used to bring him from the ``Politika`` press, before the comic would appear in newsstands. Tickets for his first independent ``exhibition``, which took place at the entrance of his house building, cost five dinars for children and ten dinars for adults. In 1985 his works, together with the works of Mica Popovic and Olja Ivanjicki, were shown in public, at a group exhibition in Rovinj, where he continued to exhibit his works for the next five years.

The crucial moment for his painting career was the sale of some of his first paintings in the Prijeko Gallery - Dubrovnik in 1987. Tapi's first painting was sold to a German tourist for 8,000 Deutschmarks, although the artist at first asked 50,000 dollars for it. From that point forward, he aligned his life with his talent. After only two years, the magazine ``Art News`` would include him among the seven best hyperrealists in the world.[1]

In the 80's and 90's of last century his paintings engrossed great media attention,[2] and that was followed by numerous independent and group exhibitions across his homeland and abroad: United States, Cuba, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Russia, China, Japan… Tapi's paintings are in numerous private collections, like the one of former president and state secretary of the United States George H.W. Bush and Henry Kissinger, departed Prime minister of Japan Kakuei Tanaka, and many other public figures across the world, but also in public collections, including the White House collection.[3] In 2000 the U.S. state of Georgia proclaimed Dragan Malesevic Tapi as an Honorary Georgia Citizen. Unfortunately for the world of painting and admirers of fine arts, the sudden and early death of the artist in 2002 prevented him from exhibiting already arranged exhibitions in museums and galleries such as the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.


Modern art critics consider Dragan Malešević Tapi as a representative leader of hyperrealism and magical realism.[4] Some art critics evaluate his painting as eclectic and illusionistic.[5]

He painted oils on canvas and wood, and his technique was similar to the one which was developed by the great masters, especially Jan van Eyck and Salvador Dalí. Thanks to this special technique called under painting, his paintings have a high level of materialization. As he painted only visible things, very precisely, he preserved the spirit of optimism and the joy of living. For some critics this is the specificity of ``Tapi's`` style.[6] Most of the critics agree that Tapi's painting is derived from technique perfection and that Tapi's artistic language is comprehensible for global publicity of fine arts.[7]

However, his work embraces a much wider spectrum. Unlike his paintings, some of these artworks are yet unknown to the wider public, but it is important to note that he was engaged in sculpture in last years of his artistic production. Tapi's paintings dominate with scenes from everyday life, depicted with almost photographic precision. He also painted landscapes, genre compositions, still life, female acts… Some of the paintings have historical, religious or social motif, also as scenes with admixture of surreal.

It is with certainty that we may say that Tapi is one of the most famous and popular Serbian painters, with his paintings reaching staggering several hundreds of thousands of USD and his reproductions being sold worldwide.[8] During his life he painted around a hundred paintings, including the most popular; Field of Happiness, Swans, Venezuela, 18th Hole, Garage, Spirit of Tesla, Anna Bach, A Turkey Fight, Rhodesia, Joy of Bankruptcy (on the cover of the compilation named ``Ima neka tajna veza`` for the band Bijelo Dugme), Warm-Cold (on the cover of the compilation named ``Best of Oliver Mandic``), Zika's band (on the Goran Bregovic CD cover Music for movies), Bliher, etc.

Tapi and Freemasonry[edit]

In the Serbian public sphere, in parallel with the artistic sphere, Tapi carefully built his name as one of the most influential Freemasons in the country.[9] In 1990, together with like-minded people, Tapi revitalized the Yugoslavian Grand Lodge, becoming one of the greatest public propagators of Freemasonry.[10] When he died, he was a 33rd degree Mason, the acting Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of Serbia, 33º Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. After his sudden death, the Grand National Lodge of Serbia formed a new lodge, named, in his honor, Dragan Malesevic Tapi.

Solo exhibitions[edit]

Group exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ Slobodan Ikonić, Masoni sa asfalta, NIN, November 2006
  2. ^ Mile Subotić, Lepota Realizma, magazine Rastko, number 4, Belgrade 1998, 32-33.Dejan Đorić, Stručnjaci za đubre, magazine Duga number 1614, Belgrade 1995, 69.Đorđe Kadijević, Nema ‘’slučaja Tapi’’, magazine NIN, Belgrade 1995, 38.S. Trifunović, Smeće po meri kritike, magazine Politika Ekspres, Belgrade 1995, 14.
  3. ^ http://www.politika.rs/ilustro/2285/2.htm
  4. ^ Dejan Đorić, Dragan Malešević Tapi, text in catalogue published for exhibition organized in Gallery Leonardo, Belgrade.
  5. ^ Mića Milošević, Flamanac i Mađioničar, text in catalogue published for exhibition organized in Gallery Leonardo in 1992, Mića Milošević, Flemish Magican, text in catalogue published for exhibition in ICC Art Gallery, Cyprus 1993.
  6. ^ Đorđe Kadijević, Čudan slikar, text in catalogue published for exhibition organized in Gallery Renata, Sombor 1995.
  7. ^ Ljupčo Malenkov, Pejzaži, text in catalogue published for exhibition organized in Cultural and Informative Center of Skopje 1999.
  8. ^ Dragana Nikoletić, Dotukao nas je naš karakter, magazine Reporter number 188. Belgrade 2001, 45-47.Momo Kapor, Tapijev magični realizam, magazine Duga number 369, Belgrade 1988, 50-51.
  9. ^ Cecilija Rabrenović, Lagana igra jednog džentlmena, magazine Gentleman number 6, Belgrade 1997, 37-39.Masoni nisu bauk, magazine Svedok, Belgrade 1998, 10-11.
  10. ^ Kako da postanete mason, magazine Večiti Fenomeni number 2, Belgrade 1998, 11-41.

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