A studio speaks volumes about an artist. Jung’s interpretation of dreaming of houses was that they revealed the deepest spaces of one self and the way they looked would tell us about dreamer’s mental state. An artist’s studio is like a house of fantasy, a workshop, an organized (or disorganized) dimension of his creative intimacy. Thus, entering an art studio implies a direct insight, or maybe even intrusion into someone’s spiritual essence. Going through an artist’s studio usually provides clearer insight into his personality than looking at his work. Vladimir Veljašević’s studio is an excellent place for curious intruders. Even if you somehow fail to notice the collections of dinosaurs and One Piece manga figures neatly arranged on a shelf (something that a curious geek will find impressive enough), you will definitely notice an aircraft model conspicuously placed in the central spot of the workshop. It is actually a part of a diorama, an ambitious 3d comic book project composed of an impressive collection of robots — the author’s work.
The studio exposes Veljašević’s creative versatility: its walls are adorned with canvases done in combined technique, the previously mentioned robots, open bookshelves, and storage cabinets where he keeps his works. The farthest corner of the room, diagonally opposite to the entrance, is occupied by a bulky lithographic press, giving off the impression of a printing workshop of old artisans. The whole atmosphere of the studio — with sculptures, oil canvases, books and the press – despite recentness of all noticeable objects, possesses a “Leonardian” quality, emanating a spirit inclined to artistic experiment. Veljašević’s interests and his oeuvre are eclectic, as they drift beyond the boundaries of his primary medium – graphics.
Veljašević is primarily known as a graphic artist, although this is probably not something you would deduct from a visit to his studio. He also teaches graphics at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, and calls it “his first choice” remarking that “such classification is out of place”.
According to the renaissance principle, painting should look up to poetry, and if we applied it to Veljašević’s graphic works, they would be akin to the artistry of haiku. A good haiku requires a great deal of effort as it aspires to devise an attractive lyrical piece that celebrates the moment it came into existence by engaging abstract notions from nature, strictly within the limited arrangement of 3 lines and 17 syllables (5-7-5). Valješević’s graphic works belong to those artistic domains of premeditated reduction, in which by means of austere shapes from nature he actually imprints his role models and transient moments of one’s existence. His landscapes are a contemporary ukiyo-e, reduced to its own basic elements. They are analogous to the Japanese graphics because of their peculiar point of view and framing of scenes under the influence of Japanese graphic artists Hiroshige and Utamaro.
Veljašević’s art is, above all, entertaining, while minimalism of his most reduced forms becomes rather associative. This associativity is shown is one Veljašević’s minimalist triptych, which I used to interpret as the stages of an egg cell: before, during and after ovulation. The artist himself told me that these are actually segments of an unpublished non-narrative comic book, fragments that, when enlarged, become independent pieces. Conceptual essence of Veljašević’s graphics is similar to his dioramic figures: both are hybrids made of diverse media, among which comic book art is most prominent. Veljašević quotes Ranko Mutinić when he refers to a comic book as “the stepchild of the arts he loves – film and Japanese graphics”. He approaches comic book art as an artistic and social concept, and he’s been in love with it “since his grandma bought him his first copy of ‘Mikijev zabavnik’”. It comes as no surprise that besides his numerous creative undertakings, he is also an illustrator and a comic book artist.
Veljašević’s first published comic book „Slobodan pad“ (“Free Fall”) was part of a project carried out by the Graphics Department at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 2017, and published by “Besna kobila”. The publication is dedicated to Ljubomir Micić, the founder of the avant-garde movement Zenitism, designed as a pictorial biography with witty illustrations that show details from Micić’s life and his philosophy. Veljašević’s visual language is reduced to a minimum – symbols he uses to capture and illustrate humour, love, ideals and tragedy of a life.
A studio of an artist is like Alice’s journey to Wonderland: when you think you have seen it all, you stumble upon an undiscovered spot. And just when it is time to leave the place, the artists suddenly remembers a folder full of picturesque drawings and sketches, the unpublished doctoral comic book…but I don’t want and I can’t talk about it as I don’t have the right words…. What makes someone’s art good is its potency to always astound the viewer.