Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Radomir Perica, 1924-2006


It is with great sadness that I must announce the death of Radomir Perica, on December 23, from congestive heart failure; he was 82. Radomir, whom we met through our friendship with his daughter Simonida Perica-Uth, one of our closest friends, was an accomplished graphic artist and designer. When Radomir heard that we were launching a magazine, back in 1990, he insisted on bringing his expertise to bear on the project and gifted us with the basic template for our front cover -- including our magazine logo, with its imperfect closing capital G and angled star-- which has been the basis of every VIDEO WATCHDOG cover we've produced in the past seventeen years. And, by extension, the logo you see on this very blog.

In Belgade, Yugoslavia, Radomir (whose name is also transliterated in some sources as "Radomira Perice") worked for many years as a cartoonist, a comics artist, an illustrator of books, and finally as the designer of title sequences for Yugoslavian feature films. I often tried to get him to talk about this period in his life, to help me track down examples of his work in this field, but he disliked talking about himself and blew off any attempt to make his past work the subject of discussion. In the early days of VW, Radomir helped me to obtain helpful information about his former colleague Rados Novakovich, the director of OPERACIJA TICIJAN, which Roger Corman subsequently transmuted into PORTRAIT IN TERROR, BLOOD BATH, and TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE; he even drew a sketch of Novakovich to accompany the first part of my three-part article about the film's history in VW #4.

It was Simonida who told us most of what we knew about Radomir, including that his own story had been the historical basis of a character in the 1986 film HEY BABU RIBA, who is jailed for getting and flaunting a Mickey Mouse tattoo -- which was seen by the authorities as a flagrant and unacceptable endorsement of American imperialism (and, by implication, a nose-thumbing at Leninist rule). In hindsight, it was an heroic gesture of his belief in the freedom of artistic expression in the face of oppressive government. His wife of many years, Vera, passed away not long after the family's relocation to Washington, D.C.

Radomir never lost his love of cinema (or Walt Disney) and attended new movies with his second wife, Mary, weekly. The films of Luís Buñuel and Ken Russell were among his great enthusiasms (we agreed that CRIMES OF PASSION was a masterpiece), and when he insisted to me that Joel Schumacher's BATMAN FOREVER demanded to be taken seriously -- not as a film, perhaps, but as a visual spectacle of rare scope, achievement, and taste in American cinema -- I was compelled to take a second look at it and came away convinced of what should have been obvious to me on the first pass.

Radomir was a brilliantly unique yet adaptable artist; some of the most outstanding examples of his interpretative art can be found here (these are available as stunning lithographic prints, including "Eve," pictured above), while some samples of a more basic, storybook nature can be found here. He also portrayed Nikola Tesla in the docudramatic passages of his son-in-law Robert Uth's award-winning PBS documentary TESLA: MASTER OF LIGHTNING.

Donna and I will miss Radomir for his absolute mastery of his craft, his warm endorsement of our projects, his animated spirit of fun and mischief -- in short, his beloved and singular place in our extended family.

2 comments:

  1. I met Radomir Perica back in 1997 at a printing shop where he was creating reprints of his Charlie Chaplin painting. All reprints were hand numbered except for one. Radomir personally signed that copy for me and didn't number it. It is framed and in pristine condition today. I'd love to send a photo of it for you if you'd like. I often wondered if there was value in having such a reprint with his name on it. Though I could never part with it, I still wonder. He was a nice man I saw on a few occasions at the shop where I worked. His work did not need any explanation. Feel free to email me if you'd like to chat about the paintings I have of his. I have 2.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I forgot to post my email address. It's briancrow@comcast.net
    Again, I'd be happy to share the photo with you of the reprint he signed for me in 1997.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.