Interview with Lana Ključarić: Tracing the Slavonian Artist

Total Croatia News

Goran Podunavac

A talented artist from Osijek, Lana Ključarić, is a regular guest at different artistic happenings in Slavonia and Baranja, but her work has also drawn the attention of an audience beyond Croatia.

These last days of summer Lana’s focus is on the final preparations for her upcoming exhibition Tragovi (Traces) curated by Valentina Radoš. The exhibition will be opened in the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek on 14th September 2017 at 19:00.

After a few days of vacation in Paris, her favourite city and the place she feels fully complete, the 35-year-old artist is back in her hometown where we met her to chat about the upcoming exhibition, life in the city on the Drava River and her thoughts on the art scene in this region.

What can visitors expect in Osijek’s museum at your upcoming exhibition ”Traces”?

The audience will see an experimental exhibition on which I have been working on for the last two years with a curator from the museum. You don’t observe each part of exhibition one by one. On the contrary, you watch it whole as one piece of work. The exhibition is questioning the possibilities of drawing and my relationship to drawing, and that relationship can be seen in the parts in which I used a ruler, pencil or did a sketch. In my works you will also see how I used a pen as an experimental technique, not so common in use here as in some other countries. For example, in Japan the pen is on the same level as other techniques of drawing and it is often present in their works/art. That’s the reason why I explore the possibilities of using a pen on a small and big format, ways to create traditional shadowing and what I can get from the pen which is now traditional, but actually a modern technique. I’m exploring how far can one go with the pen as a material in finesses of drawing.

Why did you choose ”Traces” as the name for the exhibition?

The name came after I sat down with my curator and we both had dictionaries in hands – me with the dictionary of foreign words and her with the dictionary of art terms. We said we’ll just open a random page and choose a term, but we immediately realized this Dadaistic concept just won’t work. Somehow we both came to the conclusion that my drawing and writing is leaving a trace. All we have written is from old civilizations, starting from cave drawings. Actually, when I draw, I leave a trace. The pencil and its movement on paper is leaving its own trace and identity. When I said all the drawings are one work means those traces show what my relationship to drawing is when I have a tool such as a ruler and when I draw by hand. What kind of trace I leave. That’s why the name is Traces.

Which techniques do you use most often in drawings?

Earlier I used acrylic makers. During my studies I really used many techniques and now it somehow turned out I use a pen. Mostly I use modern materials because they are in my biological sense somehow most familiar. My first works in childhood were by pen and I know them best. Ink, feather, brush, oil is something you study at university and somehow I feel disconnected from those materials. I have a feeling that is something belonging to old, past times. The pen is much closer to me and I have a feeling I know it better than myself. The pen illustrates a story from the time I was born in 1981 and today.

Where do you find inspiration for your works?

All artists arrive to those years when they create for a long time and simply anything can be called an inspiration. I have my way of working and that is my starting point. I read a lot, love traveling, visit other exhibitions, visit different types of museumsBecause I work a lot it can happen that something just clicks and something inspires me. Can you call it inspiration or do I just learn and evolve and confirm something that was somewhere in me the whole time, so I just awaken it? I would describe it that way. I think young people who go to high school are inspired more and those years are the time when you find fervour.

How often do you think about leaving Croatia, since you often have exhibitions in Paris?

My heart is in Paris and there I’m completely myself. Fulfilled. I don’t feel that way in any other city. My instinct is telling me to choose Osijek because in my hometown I have a job which I couldn’t have there. It’s not easy to become successful in Paris with so many artists similar to me. I’m not one of those people who would like to gamble for a long time and leave it all here. In some way here I have a safe position. In the city where I was born, I have safety. All my friends from kindergarten and my relatives are here. Perhaps I’m the person who needs a calm place in which I can create. Paris might have a huge amount of restlessness for surviving. It would be ideal to create here in the calmness of Osijek and have a market for my work there. I have spent too much money and had to give up on many things on each of my previous exhibitions in Paris, so I’m not ready and obligated to do it again. My heart says Paris, but I’m listening my instinct.

How much satisfaction do you have from your work in school?

What inspires me are the kids who are really amazing. I used to think how I would mostly love to work with students in high school because elementary school kids are too young. Now when I’m working with all of them I can say that younger students are much better because they are creating with more love and are more open to discovery. Paperwork is something that bothers me in school, but it is all because our education system is the way it is. My job in school keeps me real. I think I would be very keen to fly away in some other world. This is something that very often happens to other artists who work for themselves and are not on the ground with their feet. That touch with reality is actually very good for me. When you too closed in your circles and are surrounded by only artists, you somehow isolate yourself from all other people. But I can’t say the way I live and work makes my art better.

What others things make you happy except drawing and working in a school?

Enormous hours spent on Instagram (laughs). I spy other artists and their work. Mostly those from the West Coast. Those are the people who create. When we are born we have on our backs a huge burden, all those prehistories, antics, middle age, renaissance and other historical periods that are following our each step after we graduate. In California, for example, when a child is born in Las Vegas, in the desert, that neon doesn’t have that feeling of burden behind themselves when they create. I really enjoy following what’s going on there. In my free time, I walk with my friends along the Drava River, drink too much coffee, but each time I get the chance I also like to travel to some new place and change my environment for a few days.

What advice would you give to young artists in Slavonia and Baranja?

If you like something, then nothing is a big problem. Everyone knows it the best. Nothing on my way could distract me. All the refused exhibitions, life in Osijek, that doesn’t bother me. I can create somewhere in a forest, but also in some big city. That is simply what you love and if you feel that in your heart you just march forward. Every human recognizes it in himself. There is no specific advice.

For the end, would you like to add anything?

I think I said everything I wanted. I would just like to invite you to my exhibition which will be open from September the 14th until October the 19th in the Museum of Fine Arts (European Avenue 9, Osijek) every working day (except Monday) from 10:00 to 20:00 and during the weekend from 10:00 to 13:00. You’re all welcome!


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