How did the collaboration with the Foundation Saša Marčeta start and how long did you stay in Belgrade during the art residence project at Bioskop Balkan?
I was in Munich, planning for the exhibition of a large bronze sculpture comprised of two figures, with a total height of 2.40 meters. After Ksenija Samardžija saw a photograph of this sculpture, she reached out to me expressing her interest in bringing the sculpture here for an exhibition at Balkan Cinema. Consequently, I arrived here at the start of March and remained for a duration of three weeks. The city is really active outside – on the street. On the walls, you can see graffiti which is not just graffiti, but art pieces. I feel very comfortable here.
When you got invited, what was Ksenija’s general idea? Did she make any suggestions?
When Ksenija extended the invitation, her overall concept was quite broad and open-ended. She exuded deep enthusiasm about the prospect of bringing the sculpture to this space. Interestingly, she didn’t try to confine me to specific ideas; rather, she suggested that the place itself would arouse inspiration within me.I must admit that her words held true. The site – Cinema Balkan filled me with joy and indeed, it inspired me deeply. Foundation offered me complete autonomy when it came to the execution of my work, thus empowering me to make my own creative choices. It was quite a liberating and motivating experience.
You described the bronze sculpture as two sides of your personality. Can you talk a little more about the idea behind the work?
The idea is to depict a double self-portrait. We have a statue that is quite calm because it carries another figure. This second figure observes everything that is happening, wants to do various things, and is very curious and dreamy. I started working on this sculpture as a very intimate piece in the foundry. The work is indeed very personal and introspective, but at the same time, each of us has this dual image of ourselves. We are never just one.
How much time did you spend working on the large bronze sculpture that the audience will see at the exhibition in the Cinema Balkan?
It took me a solid two years to bring my vision to life. There was a point when everything seemed to fall apart, but I refused to give up. I started from scratch and devoted a year and a half to meticulously shaping the clay into the desired form. The remaining time was spent carefully carving, melting, welding, making final adjustments, and applying the finishing touch to the patina.
So, are you developing this sculpture here further? Will you present some other artwork as well?
Regarding the development of the sculpture, our plan entails bringing it to this location and further refining it. Specifically, I intend to explore other distinct positions that will enhance its visual impact. Positioned prominently in the center of the space, the grand bronze sculpture will be accompanied by a pedestal, designed to resemble a volcanic structure, thus adding a captivating element to the overall composition.
Moreover, the exhibition will feature paintings, measuring an impressive 7×3 meters, which will contribute to the full experience. Additionally, there will be two other sculptures on display, both of which are currently work in progress. These sculptures will offer a deliberate contrast in size, with one being large and the other small, thereby creating a dynamic interplay between them.
To further enrich the exhibition, the lower level of Bioskop Balkan will showcase a captivating video presentation, providing a glimpse into the intricate process behind the creation of the artworks. Furthermore, I have plans to incorporate digital paintings and photographs, adding a contemporary touch to the overall artistic narrative.
Could you provide us with some additional information about your daily work? What is that foundry like, where do you work in Munich?
Securing a space for oneself is a task that requires diligence and perseverance. As an individual who finds solace in working alone, I have always been on the lookout for a suitable place where I can immerse myself in hands-on activities and connect with the materials. This pursuit led me to the foundry in Munich, a workshop operated by a father and son as a family business.
Working at the foundry has been an enlightening experience for me. Being actively involved in the process is crucial to my creative journey. The opportunity to work independently on my own projects allowed me to fully dedicate myself to my craft and explore my artistic expression. However, when the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic struck and the subsequent lockdown began, all external avenues closed. I found myself in a predicament, as the major sculpture I was working on was too large to be transported elsewhere. With limited options available, we collectively made the decision for me to remain at the foundry, assisting the father and son duo while simultaneously completing my project. This unexpected turn of events has brought about a unique fusion of work and living, as I now have my own studio at the foundry and occupy the second floor as my living quarters. This arrangement has allowed me to dedicate all of my time and energy to my work, enabling me to hone my skills and immerse myself fully in the creative process. In conclusion, my quest for a personal space led me to the foundry, where I have found a nurturing environment for my artistic endeavors. The challenges posed by the pandemic might have disrupted normalcy, but they have also presented me with an opportunity to grow as an artist. The symbiotic relationship between the father, son, and I has fostered an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual support. As I continue this journey, I eagerly look forward to the artistic discoveries and personal growth that lie ahead within the confines of this cherished space.
You were studying in Italy and Germany. How would you compare those two parts of your educational process? What was the key to your artistic development?
During my educational journey, I had the opportunity to study in both Italy and Germany. It is notable to compare the educational experiences I had in these two regions and identify the key factors that contributed to my artistic development. The initial crucial decision I made was selecting an art school, and after careful consideration, I decided to enroll at the esteemed Brera Academy in Milan. This decision granted me access to a wealth of technical knowledge, which served as a strong foundation for my artistic progression. I found myself deeply engaged in the intricacies of these artistic processes. After spending two years in Milan, I came to the realization that continuing my education at the Munich Academy would be more instrumental in my personal growth as an artist. My time there was transformative, largely due to the guidance and instruction of Olaf Metzel. The workshops I participated in played a significant role in propelling my artistic career forward. It opened doors for me by offering not only the opportunity to further refine my technical skills but also to explore different materials and experiment with their combinations. The technical aspect of art will always hold importance for me, but I now find great significance in pushing the boundaries of other materials, as well as utilizing space to enhance my artistic expression.
What do you think about your commitment and huge dedication to work and creation? Where does it come from and in what way is it important for you?
I consider artistic work a double privilege. To have had the gift of creativity, to be able to put this gift into practice. Dedication is a normal consequence of the pleasure of creation. Where does it come from? From myself and perhaps also from the two families of artists from which I descend…. My great-grandfather was a painter and taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, my grandmother was a painter, my father is a photographer, and my grandmother and my mother are dancers. I grew up in this environment and from the beginning, I have always had a great desire and extreme joy in bringing to creation what I imagined.
When I work, I feel a sense of completeness and freedom that I cannot do without. Now I consciously enjoy every moment of the working process of study and research, even if I go through periods of hard physical and mental challenge, but afterward, I feel extremely alive and present in this world.
What material do you like the most?
I work a lot with bronze. I wouldn’t necessarily say bronze is my absolute favorite material, but I absolutely love the whole process of creating a bronze sculpture. I really enjoy being involved in every step. You start with clay, then you must cast the clay with plaster… and after a few more steps, you put it in the oven and then you can melt it, do the metal work, and weld… so there are several processes involved in reaching the final product. Each step is really fascinating and, of course, I find the melting process particularly intriguing.
So, it’s a long process.
Have you decided to take the more challenging route, one that involves making significant sacrifices?
To me, the level of physical commitment in this process holds immense significance. There exists a strong bond between physical commitment and creative imagination; without one, the other cannot thrive. Rather than perceiving it as a sacrifice, it is about being aware of the choice made and finding great satisfaction in this realization.
Fotograf Marina Bugarčić