Croatian artist Aleksandar Bezinovic explores a range of styles from gestural abstraction, to symbolism and figuration. We met with Aleksandar to talk a little bit about his journey as an artist and where he is now.
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?
I grew up in Split, a city on the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. Heart of the city centre is the Roman palace, rich with life and multiple layers of architectural history that interweave in eclectic and Borgesian ways. It impacted my identity and aesthetic; especially my interests in proportions, iconography and the ageing of matter.
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience?
I went to School for Applied Arts and Design, specializing in graphic design. Later obtaining my BA in painting at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts. My education is traditionally based and I love that, though it has not affected much of my recent aesthetic. After I graduated, I started working at the Croatian Conservation institute, mostly on Baroque and Renaissance wooden polychrome, whilst partly working as a scenic painter for theatre plays. Later I discovered that working as a painter on movie productions is much more dynamic and better suited to me, so I did it for about 10 years. Working like that was important so I could continue painting and exhibiting my work at the same time. There’s no developed art market with contemporary art collectors here and so working as a scenic artist to support myself was interesting enough. Recently, I’ve started collaborating with online galleries and engaging with Instagram more and it’s changed a lot for me.
What’s the message of your work? Are there themes/narratives/purpose?
I am trying to keep my work simple and effective as much as I can. Circle drawings and Cartesian coordinate systems are the starting point of each work and, although iconography and symbolism are important, part of my motivation is that I don’t use them to explain my work. As Frank Stella put it, “what you see is what you see.”
Where do they come from? How would you describe your aesthetic?
Bold geometric paintings with dominant black curving forms. Contrast and proportions is their heart and soul.
Who and what are your greatest influences?
I love work from Anselm Kiefer, Pierre Soulages, Picasso…but also Ancient Greek vase paintings, Renaissance architecture, calligraphy and typography have influenced my recent work a lot.
Are your works planned? What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?
I usually approach to canvas in 3 phases. The first one is all about creating the surface that is multilayered and industrial. Second is drawing and the final one is applying black or gray color. I try to control it to some point, but I have to feel like I don’t and stay open for intuitive change and decision, when to stop or when to destroy. It’s hard to keep it simple and effective all the time, even if I prepare a good sketch it doesn’t mean the painting’s gonna work well for me. Having consciously in mind anything external, including audience or money, is impossible whilst creating. When it comes to the organization of my work, later it is different, I need to have the audience on my mind.
What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you stick to one medium? Do you experiment? Do you see any parameters to your work?
In 2016 I needed to decide what I really wanted from my life in a professional way. Working as a freelance scenic painter does not give you the chance to organize your time for painting and exhibiting. I traveled at least half of the year with movie productions and could not focus on technically and conceptually complicated paintings that sometimes took me weeks to finish. It was frustrating and I had to make the change, so I decided to reset myself and start drawing circles for a while and let myself play with rust and dry pigments. Eventually I started connecting circle drawings with calligraphic brush movements and soon it become the body of my recent work. The best parameter that works for me is if I can’t finish a painting the day I started it, better not start it at all. In practice usually it takes more than a day but one day to express an idea and put it on canvas effectively should be enough.
What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?
No rule, good work, bad work, it is all work in process. But I need to be rested since my working process is quite fast and physical especially when it comes to large scale canvases.
What are your goals for the future? (Projects, collaborations)
I have a lot of requests for commercial collaborations. I’m trying to control it and select what works best for me without going into hyper production. Besides online collaborations, I also need to exhibit in the actual galleries, so I’m working on some larger canvases that should hopefully result in solo exhibition next year.
How has your art practice been affected by self-isolation?
If you are a painter in your forties you’ve probably spent a quarter of your life in self-isolation. Isolation is natural, but traveling to my studio out of town becomes complicated during this pandemic with the traveling restrictions. I’m waiting for my request to be authorized by the Civil defence office whilst I write this 🙂
Are you creating new work while social distancing?
I’m staying home mostly, writing, sketching, cooking…