INTERVIEW: ZORICA KRSTIC
By Olga Venspi, April 12, 2020, Novi Sad
Zorica Krstic was born on 3 January 1970 in Sremska Mitrovica, Yugoslavia where as a child she first studied painting at the side of her Artist mother. At sixteen, she was working in the Art Studio of the hyper-realist Dragan Martinovic. From 1988 to 1993, she attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, graduating in the painting class of Professor Jovan Rakidzic and in the drawing class of Professor Milan Stashevic. From 1994-2004 she has lived and painted in Greece (Athens), where she was a member of the Greek Chamber of Representative Arts (E.E.T.E.). Since 2004, she lives and creates in Serbia (Novi Sad).
Olga Venspi You were born in family of an artist. Your mother was an Artist. Do you think that your fate was predetermined? How did you start to paint?
Zorica Krstic My mother was a wonderful woman and artist, with a very lyrical handwriting. Her watercolours were lace-delicate, full of some special poetic experience of the world. Throughout her life, she experienced the world through the eyes of a true artist. Not even the most subtle details, which exude power, beauty and special artistic values that could be seen in them, did not escape to her eye. She brought that experience of the world to me too, drawing my attention to how beautiful, interesting and diverse the world can be, if we just open our eyes a little better. Flashes of light, interesting strings, lines, contrasts, textures in nature, beautiful plants, haze, arabesque … My mother taught me and reminded me how to look forward to it and to imagine that joy can be incorporated into the artistic expression that she did herself in her paintings and works. My mother was a top educator, working as a fine arts teacher. I am aware that we have choices throughout our lives, but I am not sure where the boundary between personal choices and those of fate, or to call it “other circumstances”, may have interfered. I think that my mother’s profession, to a certain extent, determined my choice to compete at the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, although music and architecture were fields of interest and possible choice. As a kid, I showed a certain fondness for the fine arts, patiently drawing, dotting and painting. This affinity ran throughout my education, and besides my mother who waspainting at home, I could observe the process of the creation of a work of art. Of course I asked her to give me pens, paints and paper.
O.V. Who where your teachers?
Z.K My first teacher, of course, was my mother, Borislavka Krstic, and then a primary school teacher who had a special emotional approach to children, and who handled and set artwork with special care, working with each child as a separate being. For a while, I went to the Art Studio of the painter Dragan Martinovic, in my hometown of Sremska Mitrovica, where some pupils were preparing for admission to the Academy of Arts or some university of architecture. My professors on the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, were Milan Stasevic and Jovan Rakidzic, from Belgrade.
O.V. Which Artist From the Past Would You Like to Meet? And Why?
Z.K. The painter I’ve always admired is Van Gogh. The joy he instilled in his works and his artistic expression, which is may be at contrast with his own life, is evident not only to art connoisseurs but to most other observers and art lovers alike. The warmth of light, the variety and flicker of pure colours, the beauty of selected scenes, the sense of movement and the flow of energy in the images themselves, cannot leave anyone indifferent. If time travel would be possible, I would love to walk through the wheat field, and stop by the painter and his staff, observe how he paints, and ask him what he feels while painting, joy, sadness, excitement… It is interesting to think about how the conversation would flow and would he even want to talk…
O.V. Which Artist has inspired your style of painting?
Z.K. It’s hard to say which artist has inspired me. I believe we are collecting influences from all sides and from many artists. For those who touch our souls, we recognize the “closeness”, and probably adopt in some way as a guideline for our personal formation. Atsome artists we like secrecy, at some of them, clarity or composition, at some flicker or dynamics, in someone a good sense of contrast, in some immediacy in expression… All this is summed up in a complex story from which later it is passed as a wool fibre, thread, and so we start winding our yarn, and then later, throughoutthe process of creativity, we consider and knit our story … I like diverse artists from different eras: Direr, Botticelli, Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Klimt, Egon Schiele, Alexander Calder, Miro, Dali… and many others.
O.V. What is the most enigmatic work of art for you?
Z.K. The works of Giorgio De Chirico evoke enigmatic feelings in myself, because of their metaphysical view of the world in which reality and dream, meaning and nonsense, joy of colours and light are contrasted with the loneliness of a timeless landscape. The absence of human beings, or faceless figures, are big puzzles. The gloomy anticipation and agitation is contrasted with the colorful elements and cheerfully lighted streets, like contrasting displays of hope and optimism.
O.V. You created an alternative reality that seems exit outside of time. Your artworks have philosophical character, call to the reflection. I wanted to know a bit more about some of your influences aesthetically.
Z.K. Referring to Chiriko´s work, I partially answered this question as well. The timeless moment in painting is something that attracts me, which goes in the direction of understanding the duration, the eternity. Some elements of the present, the flashes, the moments, placed in these timeless spaces, coincide with my sense of the need to transform reality, and to perpetuate somehow this transient peculiarity of reality.
O.V. You have very special style of creating, painting. Would you like to tell us about it?
Z.K. I don’t always paint the same way. Sometimes I research materials and combinations of materials, but I like to build the image in layers thin or thick, thicker or thinner pastes or opaque or transparent colours. I often make colours of pigment and, at that point appropriate, binder (acrylic or egg) depending on what I want to achieve.
O.V. You have lived and worked in Greece during 10 years. How did it happen that Greece appeared in your life? Maybe this is due to the unique culture of ancient Greece?
Z.K. I came to Greece after I finished my study, to visit a friend and to spend couple of months painting there. It happened that I found the galleries that I cooperated with, and I stayed in Greece much longer than I intended. Some stronger sunlight than in Serbia, impacted my more intensive feeling of colours. And of course, an interesting people, very sincere and opened, an ancient Greek culture, probably were the strong reasons that kept me in Greece for 10 years long.
In some of my paintings appears some scene from Greek mythology as parallels, of some story that is woven in my own life. Like Odyssey for example.
O.V. Which of your projects are connected to Greece?
Z.K. I had an Exhibition the Olympic reminiscence, 2004, which was connected with an ancient Greek Olympic games. I was inspired by drawings on an ancient Greek vases, which presented the scenes of ancient games. I painted the serial of those scenes in my way.
Everything I painted in Greece is in some way connected with this beautiful country, even most of the times my presentations were not directly connected with Greek culture. Most of the themes that I was interested to research, had inner source, because my nature is more introspective. Thus, some Greek elements, like columns or temples can be found in the backgrounds or architectural surroundings in some paintings.
O.V. As an accomplished artist, what would you recommend to aspiring artists?
Z.K. I do not see myself as an accomplished artist. Creative process lasts during the whole life of an artist, and he is never accomplished, searching for the right expression throughout life. Aspiring artists are taking their inspirations from their surroundings, their inner world or from the other artists that they feel closeness to them. It is important for the young artist to stay sincere in front of itself, consistent in their handwriting, sensibility, experiences of it’s surrounding, and sincere during their “transformations” of reality in their creative process.
Olga Venspi is a journalist based in Athens.