AF: What is your background in the arts and what inspires you to make it?
In 1986 I enrolled at Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo (Bosnie and Herzegovine) where I followed the course that was a very classical and traditional training: a still life drawing and nude. Third and fourth year I continued at Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (Croatia) where teaching was completely different; abstract and minimalist. At that moment I started working on a series of large drawings in ink that were built only with vertical and horizontal lines, geometric and minimalist. This geometric experience helped me to understand the importance of composition and organization of space. On arriving in Paris in 1991. The previous two experiences merge, to geometrical construction I added the figures. My education in Paris at University Paris VIII was completely theoretical and conceptual. At that time I already started to develop my work in graphite lead on paper so this theoretical approach helped me to articulate my reflections about it. In general, each experience was very enriching for my artistic maturation.
My inspirations is complexity and contradiction of our human condition. For me the moment of creation is a kind of transcription of all sensations, stimulations, feelings and perceptions.
AF: What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work?
With my drawings I want to challenge our perception and experience of everyday life and normality. By perturbing the familiar the very banal appears as the ultimate experience of otherness. By using the logic of virtual images, a large-angle effect and photographic blur, I want to propel the subject of the drawing towards the viewer and provoke a vibration of the space of the drawing. One of the most important characteristic of a work of art is surely its ability to surprise the viewer’s perception and challenge his habits. I secretly hope that is the case with my drawings.
AF: What project are you working on now?
Currently I am working on a project entitled HOME VARIATIONS. It’s a polyptych comprised of five drawings. Each drawing is 200 x 200 cm large and comprised of fifteen sheets (dimensions 50 x 65 cm) in a 3 x 4 configuration. Each sheet is interchangeable across all four drawings as long as it keeps its position in the configuration, allowing millions of different possibilities, millions of different stories. The project is based on the principle “cadavre exquis” (exquisite corpse) where the features of one drawing are the starting points of another drawing and where this second drawing is both linked to the first one and independent of it at the same time.
Also I am working on a group of large scale drawings for the next solo show in Paris. I have just finished three large scale drawings which will be shown on the Drawing Now 2016 Art Fair in Paris.
AF: Can you tell us more about your solo coming up in Paris?
I am preparing a solo show in Gallery Julio Gonzalez in Arceuil for September 2016. This gallery is well known for showing the solo exhibitions for established and mid-career artists. I will show a group of my recent large scale drawings (a sort of pseudo landscapes, interiors) that I have been working on for the last two years as well as a group of older drawings from 1995 until 2010, also mainly in a large scale format.
AF: Who are some of your influences?
Twenty years ago it was much easier to name the artists that influence my work. What touches me today the most are individual works by different artists and very often artists I do not know. Thinking retrospectively my first visual influences come from subcultural world of seventies and eighties: comics, cartoons and movies. At the time I was reading all sorts of comics but with time my interest in drawing became the most important guideline in the choice of what I was reading; I admired the Prince Vailant by Hal Foster, Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond, as well as Richard Corben, Jacovitti and Jean Giraud. At that time I exclusively listened the Anglo-Saxon rock. It was the time of vinyl where the album covers were often a work of art in itself carrying a very strong visual impact (King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd). I lived in the middle of the New Wave period – XTC, Bazookas, but at the same time I was listening to Hendrix, the Who and Led Zeppelin.
I also remember that I was very impressed by the images of the silent movies (Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of Opera, Buster Keaton, Metropolis).
At the age of seventeen I started to browse art books and from that moment I have discovered the paintings of Gericault, The raft of the Medusa and the great compositions of David. Later, when I was already living in Paris, I was often going to the Louvre just to see one of these paintings.
I admired the Spanish painters Velasquez, Goya and particularly Ribera.
Among Flemish painters it was Hugo Van Der Goes with its thoroughness and shifted Flemish hyperrealism but also for the deep and mystical psychology of his characters.
I really liked the freshness and elegance of David Hockney’s drawings and Chuck Close “faces” with their disturbing presence. Francis Bacon (with his treatment of space and the human figure) and Louise Bourgeois, the two artists who transcend their personal stories by creating emblematic works of their time.
Among the authors of younger generation, there are Tom Friedman and Sara Sze for their creative alchemical processes, which consist in transforming materials and everyday objects into magical constellations. These two artists address the problem of spaces and materials that reflect the complex nature of our time without using a socio-political discourse.
AF: What is next for you? And where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?
I will keep working on a group of enigmatic pseudo landscape large-scale drawings. Also, I am preparing solo exhibitions that should take place next year in several Museums in China. In the next five years, I see myself in exploring the principles of modular interchangeable drawings and all its possibilities. I am curious to see where that process will take me, in the way I approach the drawing space.
Interview by Jamie Martinez