Apart from the excellent results achieved by our athletes worldwide, art is another important field where our ideas are very welcome and where our artists should be respected as ambassadors of their country.
On the occasion of the series of exhibitions of Serbian artists in Washington, D.C., staged by the Art for All gallery from Belgrade as part of the Finding a Way project, we spoke with the project creator and the founder of the Art for All Gallery, Marija Milošević, about the current position of the Serbian art in the world and the importance of contemporary art for the common people.
We are witnessing a constant regression to the past, including in art. Modernity, especially the avant-garde, is not valued in our society today. Is there room for contemporary art and artists in Serbia?
Continuity is very important, as is the connection with one’s roots which gives identity to our fine art even today. Although contemporary artists may be inspired by the past, they deal with current social issues through traditional and contemporary techniques. From idea to implementation, the road is long and challenging, and innovation and perseverance on that road are the most important features of our contemporary art, as well as a characteristic of the avant-garde – to be innovative, to explore or introduce new forms and styles.
Is it wrong to expect more people to understand contemporary artists? If that happens, do artists lose their artistic essence and become a part of mass production?
Art is a diverse range of human activities that are underpinned by qualities such as creativity, imagination or talent, skill, emotional strength or conceptual ideas. Looking at a work of art, of course, it is impossible to understand it all in an instant. The question of meaning is justified. A work of art can be interpreted in countless ways so that the viewer somehow “completes” the work through open engagement and subjective association. We, at the Art for All Gallery, try to offer a concept of contemporary art that is for everyone, is not elitist and is accessible to everyone. This in no way diminishes the artistic value of either the work or the author – on the contrary, it makes it more valuable to a larger number of people.
We, at the Art for All Gallery, try to offer a concept of contemporary art that is for everyone, is not elitist and is accessible to everyone
You are putting together an exhibition of several Serbian young artists in Washington. Does the world understand and know the Serbian contemporary art scene?
The Finding a Way project, an exhibition of Serbian contemporary art in Washington, is one step in the presentation of our art scene, which is a perpetual process that should have continuity to be effective. The 20th-century-Yugoslav-art left a deep mark on the global scene, and our artists, although heirs to that particular school of painting, demonstrate with this project how differentiated and original the Serbian contemporary art scene is.
The great success of Konstrakta, the Serbian representative at Eurovision, has significantly popularized conceptual art in Serbia, especially because of the references to Marina Abramović, as well as showing us to the world in a new light. How do foreigners view our art scene?
Speaking from the experiences of the Art for All Gallery and presentations at international art fairs, I can proudly say that our fine contemporary art easily communicates with foreign audiences. Although the language of art is a universal one on all continents, the works of our artists amaze foreigners with their original idea and artists’ freedom to experiment. Apart from the excellent results achieved by our athletes worldwide, art is another important field where our ideas are very welcome and where our artists should be respected as ambassadors of their country.
Who are the Serbian artists who will be presented in Washington?
The Finding a Way project is designed to present two generations of contemporary artists in Serbia via two exhibitions and a series of lectures – that is a generation of professors from the University of Arts and a generation of their students. Our goal is for the professors Vladislav Šćepanović, Nikola Božović, Goran Čpajko, Aleksandar Mladenović and Djordje Stanojević to showcase their work and communicate with their American peers, experts and of course, the public, in a group exhibition which will also feature the artwork of their students – Jovanka Mladenović, Ivan Milenković, Vuk Vučković and Tijana Kojić.
Could you tell us more about the exhibition?
We are exhibiting at two locations from October 17th to November 5th. We have the honour to open the project with an exhibition in the Serbian Embassy’s new building in Washington. In parallel, there will be another art exhibition at the Anacostia Cultural Center, followed by lectures and a panel discussion with local artists. Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture, our embassy in Washington, as well as my colleague Elizabeth Escobar, who is the co-author of the project, our activities are considered a form of cultural diplomacy. The local audience will have the opportunity to interact with our artwork and guest artists, which in turn, opens the door for us to extend the project to last in 2023 too, in other locations in America.
Although the language of art is a universal one on all continents, the works of our artists amaze foreigners with their original idea and artists’ freedom to experiment
Finally, we have to ask you an inappropriate question – can you make a living from doing art in Serbia? Although we are aware that this question is rather inappropriate, it is also inevitable to talk about art commercially. Hence, we have to ask does art have its market in Serbia?
The global value of the fine art market in 2021 was 65 billion US dollars and we aim to be part of that market. And no, it is not inappropriate to ask that question. The art market in any country, including Serbia, depends mostly on how educated is the audience, hence, it is our main mission to make art accessible to the audience to explore and ask questions. Art is one of the few resources in any country that is inexhaustible if nurtured and invested in. We are going to the United States to present ourselves in the best possible light and to try to position Serbia as a country with strong and original ideas.