Balkan Art Scene
Muralist In Focus — Jana Danilović
Author: Ana Klikovac
Photo: Ana Danilović
Jana Danilović is Belgrade based painter, muralist, street artist and print-maker. Jana received her PhD in 2018, with her art research project on “City and Painting – Significance and Function of Painting Interventions in Public Space.” Her focus of interest is the relationship between the art and the public space. She is a co-founder of “Rekonstrukcija” festival, Belgrade`s and Serbia`s biggest festival of “Art on the Street” and “Objekat 505”, the informal gallery/atelier. Jana is equally dedicated to her work on the street and the gallery-oriented practices- occupying both interiors and exteriors. Dozens of her independent pieces adorn public spaces across Europe.
Jana was very gracious to dedicate her time to talk to us about her work, inspiration, projects and much more. She walked us through the process of creating her artwork, as well as her recent mural in partnership with the brand Converse as part of their world-wide “City Forests” project. “City Forests” aims to bring creatives together to design and paint murals across the globe and share how they break down barriers in their communities. Jana chose to paint a portrait of a contemporary model, used to illustrate the universal woman.
Jana wonderfully explained all about her passions, inspirations, what art means to her and the various different projects she has been apart of in this interview. Enjoy!
What inspires you? Where is your preferred place to create?
I suppose that my fascination with the city is the answer to both parts of this question. Naturally, I prefer to place a part of my work inside the ‘controlled conditions’ of the atelier, because atelier is similar to the laboratory- it is a place where I can experiment, practice, miss, then succeed again; then again, I draw the most enjoyment from working outside, painting murals.
Considering the fact that you have worked on pieces of different sizes, how would you compare large-scale pieces with smaller ones? Does size play a part in the execution of your artwork?
I would say that there are no rules, but working on stone and huge formats in public clearly makes a difference. Converting a large format, which is at the end of the day tackled using with bulkier tools, onto the smooth paper, for example, is not always an easy task. The mindset is different; different aspects are important in situations in which, for instance, one is able to capture the details and the full picture through sight from a few centimeters away from the work, and it is completely different when one is looking at it from a couple of dozens of meters away. I do not find one to be more demanding than the other; it is simply different.
Is there a work that you are particularly proud of?
Collection of works, which were introduced as part of the ‘Disobedient experiments’ exhibit, are the unity of study format works that are particularly dear to me, more so because a series of murals ‘grew’ from it. In terms of murals, my favorite ones were created at the Re:thinik Festival in Sisak, in Brussels and on the Siloes in Belgrade. Aside from the works themselves, the kinds of challenges that each of them posed, for me personally, made for a formative experience in the process of my professional development.
What does art mean to you?
Personally, it is an opportunity to share a largely intimate experience, questioning or an attitude with other people in the manner that is universally readable.
Your beautiful mural, that is displayed on the wall of the Music school “Dr Vojislav Vučković” in Belgrade, that is a part of the “Converse City Forests” had caught our attention. Can you tell us a bit about that project and the mural itself?
That project was interesting for me, partly because placing the mural into the pre-existing context of the global campaign ‘Breaking the barriers’ required working and assuming the approach that is not typical for my artistic practice, and also because I have moved away from what I usually did, in terms of the motive.
What did that process consist of and how long did it take to finalize?
The preparation and the planning had taken a bit over a month, and the realization alone was finalized in five days. Appropriately, the mural was unveiled on the 8th of March (International Women’s Day), which rounded up the contextual cohesiveness of the mural, which was mainly focused on the topic of the gender-sensitive language, e.g. emancipation.
Do you plan to participate in other similar projects in the future?
You never know :)
What are the topics that you would like to further explore through your murals?
I am curious about the relationship between the individual and the society, which is a wide and complex topic that can be approached from different standpoints. That is the topic that I have been digging through for years now, using different cycles and motifs.
What would you say to artists in the early stages of their career, who wish to paint murals, but are apprehensive in their approach towards that sphere?
There is no guidebook or one correct way. I would say that the most important parts are self-discipline, daily drawing and the will, of course.