Inside the mind of Milena Dragicevic

Exploring the creative processes of artists featured in Vitamin P2

Who are you?

I feel like an amalgamation of parts. I am a Canadian Serb living in the UK and working with a gallery in Vienna. I am the perfect example of globalisation or maybe its "Frankensteination". I have a politically-charged name by the simple fact that I am Serbian. Also, I am a fraternal twin so there is a lot of contradictory information within my identity. This is useful because I feel that cultural and other intersecting references are a way of approaching the parameters of a painting in order to affect ways of seeing. This is paramount to me. How do you make a painting that is neither a thing or a story but yet is able to resonate within its own structure? I also like the beginning of my last name "Dra" as in "Dra - cula"! I think painting is like the quintessential vampire, it is the undead but with loads of charisma.

Milena Dragicevic, <em>Supplicant 0303</em> (2011)
Supplicant 0303 (2011)(l) and Milena Dragicevic (r)

What’s on your mind right now?

Corners, black holes, white walls, colour, archeology, ancient art, language, dopplegangers, recycables, propaganda posters, modernist architecture, sculpture, apparatuses, ski slopes, diving boards, designer objects, graphics, positive and negative numbers, the unfolding and refolding of space, above, below, in, out, flat screen, 3-D, suspended movement, flight, what comes before, what comes after, rewrites, moveable effects. 

How do you get this stuff out?

I always start with drawing on transparent paper. I can spend hours intuitively dissecting and redrawing forms from found images and my own drawings and photographs. My work borrows from many sources including my personal background. I resurrect things not for sentimental reasons but for survival reasons.

How does it fit together?

____ All my work is connected but it demands mental gymnastics from me to move from one to the other. Concentration is difficult, ideas are difficult, colour is difficult, titles are difficult and U-turns are always necessary. I am not interested in something that just sits on a collector’s wall. Painting is a game, an experience. It's like trying to solve a Sudoku puzzle whose numbers are written backwards whilst you are hanging upside down. The brain somehow copes, but you get serious nosebleeds along the way. 

What brought you to this point?

A sense of urgency, resistance and pleasure. The civil war in the former Yugoslavia acted as a catalyst for my understanding that nothing truly is what it seems. That may sound like an obvious given but until your identity is shaken to the core only then do you really have to negotiate different realities. This is when I developed my urgency to work regardless of what the art market was doing or what anyone thought of my work. It is important to make decisions and rules for myself. At the moment I feel like it’s tougher to find focus and precision within a single painting. I am an artist who chooses to paint. I want my work to have an iconic quality but to still be animated by layers of meaning. A code of abstraction helps but I try to keep one foot in reality. I need the illusive to help me cut circles and sometimes seal holes into reality. I don't see painting as escape for me - it’s primal. In a sense we are still cavemen only now we have access to hair conditioner.

Milena Dragicevic, <em>Erections for Transatlantica (Majkl)</em> (2011) (l) and <em>Erections for Transatlantica (Ora)</em> (2011) (r)Milena Dragicevic, Erections for Transatlantica (Majkl) (2011) (l) and Erections for Transatlantica (Ora) (2011)(r)

Can you control it?

The true burden of making work means there is less time for your friends and family. I love watching my little girl draw. Her attention to minute details is incredible. Once she sat in my studio making drawings of my paintings. It was fascinating watching her create these little "doppleganger-lings". She teaches me a lot. Foreign film is also very important to me. One simple reason being the use of subtitles. Subtitles mutate meaning and movement which further abstracts the thing that already exists in an illusory space. I once titled a piece of work 'Subtitled' for this very reason. Painting requires a lot of time before it begins to reveal itself to the artist, so you have to be patient with it but when it does you quickly find yourself on a runaway train. You have to hang on tight until the next foreign station.

What’s next?

____ Recently I have been working on two series, the 'Supplicants' and 'Erections for Transatlantica'. With the 'Supplicants' the starting point is the photograph. I take numerous head shots of friends which can sometimes feel like performance. I then pick one which lends itself well to intervention. Drawing helps to understand how the intervention may play out. The 'Supplicants' are not psychological studies, they are not portraits but "stand-ins" for something else. They are not mutants or hybrids, they are just unknowable. In my series  'Erections for Transatlantica' I think about the possibility of an unfolding space or the passage of possible objects with no gravitational weight. They are precisely what the title suggests, erections or perhaps movable effects. I envision Transatlantica as a place of origin, but a place we inhabit in suspended form only.

Milena Dragivecic is featured in Vitamin P2 and her work is also showing in the British Art Show 7: In The Days Of The Comet

Get inside the mind of more artists from Vitamin P2 here:

Inside the mind of Glenn Sorensen
Inside the mind of Serban Savu
Inside the mind of Xylor Jane
Inside the mind of Ellen Altfest
Inside the mind of Antonio Ballester Moreno
Inside the mind of Lesley Vance
Inside the mind of Li Shurui

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