As part of my production process, I paint on wooden panels, derived from various types of trees, such as lime tree, oak, birch, pine, etc., as well as on canvas. In the process of work I utilize different materials including:
- acrylic paint
- metallic pastes
- gilding paint
- dry pastels
- different kinds of crystal elements
- semi-precious stones from the Rhodopi mountains in Bulgaria
- iron core
- colored glass pieces
- metal planes
- metal buttons, studs and nails
- crushed glass
- oil paint
- dry pastels and others.
I use all these materials because they exist everywhere in the nature surrounding us and the spaces we inhabit. Some of them, like the crystal elements, also reflect light in an excellent way giving an additional fairy-tale like element to the story portrayed visually in a certain painting.
You will notice that a large number of my paintings have black as their background. The idea for this originates in my first cycle of paintings devoted to the Balkans dating back to 1998-2000 when I organized my first solo exhibition (The Balkans – Captured Moments) and a subsequent exhibition held in Izmir, Turkey in 2002 (Neighbours). Held in the midst of the Yugoslav wars at the time, these exhibitions represented a mosaic of impressions of the historical cohabitation of different ethnic/religious groups on the Balkans, expressed through their temples’ architecture (churches, synagogues, mosques), often positioning them in close proximity of one another, their similar houses, music, heroes, etc. Its main message was that borders do not separate us on the Balkans, but rather it is our own prejudices towards one another that do that.
One of these prejudices was that the Balkans were looked upon as a “dark dungeon” and “dangerous backward place”, “temnitza” (“dark place”) as coined by the Yugoslav novelist, poet and short story writer Ivo Andric, the 1961 Nobel laureate. This darkness, however, does not pertain to spiritual confinement or refer to a real prison. Rather, it comes from the shadows cast by the tall mountains encompassing this region of Europe and the small villages nestled within the foot of these majestic mountains. Thus, I strove to prove that the sooner we try to overcome this prejudice, at least partially, the easier it will be for us to live together in tolerance and appreciate both our national spirit, our differences and the beauty of the Balkans. Additionally, the color black has always been abundant in the everyday life of people living on this strip of land – in their clothing, carpets, etc. Thus, the color black that I use in my paintings became to be associated with this mistakenly applied prejudice. The images I portray contrast against this background, become alive and their internal light shines stronger.