Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Interview with Veljko Onjin

q) Introduce yourself first please?

a) My name is Veljko Onjin, alias Mr. Benefactor.

q) Where do you live and work?

a) I live in Serbia, in Panchevo, very near to Belgrade.

q) How did you started? How have you realized you wanted to become an artist?

a) I have started with comics in elementary school. In that period of my life I was obsessed with comics and that was my first goal, to become a professional comic artist. But, I have changed my mind during high school. My grandfather was an orthodox icon painter and my aunt is expressionist painter. When I still was just a kid, I have found a book in my aunt’s studio about pop art (Lucy R. Lippard – Pop Art), I thought it was about comics! J And that book was the first serious thing in my mind about art…

q) What materials do you use and why?

a) Currently I’m using virtual reality. My work is a combination of photography and computer graphics. I print my work on PVC canvas in huge dimensions. Before that, I have used oil paint on wood, and, when I was a student, I did some experiments with car paint, tar, and fat.

q) Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related

a) My biggest artwork influence is Robert Smithson's Glue Pour. Smithson intended several tons of bright orange glue to be poured down a gently sloping hill. The viscosity of the glue was to be a wry comment on the easy trickles of wet color-field painting. That's the most inspiring thing that I ever seen in the art world. You can notice the influence in my series called "Plusminus".

q) How do you dream up with your wacky ideas? What is your creation process?

a) I try to be simple as possible. I enjoy to change the meaning of some existing picture with small 3D interventions. For example, to create ironic message with censorship, or to add a visual comment on some existing image. I always keep on changing my opinion about my work. I'm not satisfied and I always doubt... There's a lot of works that I have destroyed, because I have rigid judgment. When I work I like to discover new ways and to surprise myself. Improvisation makes me do that. That's the reason why I tend to work in series. Breaking the idea in small parts. If I create one good peace, I want to have thousand similar peaces... but that's impossible, so I must make changes, and that's the moment when the game starts... It's important to be surprised!

q) What haven’t you done yet that you definitely want to try someday?

a) I want to direct a big movie. I have experience in some small video projects, like short video-art experiments. I have plans to join my 3D skills with digital camera, but right now I don’t have enough money to buy a good video camcorder… I hope this situation will be changed soon.

q) Are there any contemporary artists that you love?

a) Besides Robert Smithson I have many great artist on my mind: Arnulf Rainer, Cindy Sherman, Daniele Buetti, John McCracken, Matthew Barney, Thomas Rentmeister, Irwin, Araki, Richard Serra...

q) How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

a) I usually take about 2 or 3 weeks to finish a piece, it depends on changes that I do after.

q) What music, if any, do you like to have on while you're working?

a) At the moment I enjoy the sounds of Otomo Yoshihide and electronic music of my friend Weird Cop.

q) Do you do many art shows?

a) When solo shows are concerned, I don’t have them often, but I had many group shows…

q) Tell us about a recent dream you had.

a) Well, time after time, I have weird snuff/gore dreams. It’s hard for me to write about them, but you can see some works that I did influenced by gore dreams, on my website (last picture in “plusminus” series).

q) What are you doing when you are not creating?

a) I love to play drums and percussions. Especially "tarabuka" (tarabuka is a small Turkish drum, you can find it in Balkans ethno music). Rhythm and motion are the things that I can't afford in my visual art, so I need that way of expression just to stay healthy and forget about computer.

q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?

a) Yes of course, artist must be in emotional relationship with his artwork. I have that feeling even if I work in digital media. I’m always missing my digital print when it is sold. J

q) What new projects or exhibits are in your future?

a) I have two exhibitions in may, for sure. First one is on May the 10th, a group art show in Serbian fancy supermarkets, and another one on May the 15th, for a small art festival called “The Night of The Museums” here in Belgrade.

q) What is your favourite art related web site?

a) Well, I have many of them: , , , , , and my favorite:

q) What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?

a) The strangest thing that I have ever seen was my own paunch from inside. I have swallowed a long hose with small camera on the top. It was in the hospital of course, and I have seen my paunch on the TV screen, I was so confused…

q) What is the strangest thing you have ever done?

a) To have swallowed a long hose with small camera on the top.

q) any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?

a) Just do it!

q)your contacts….e-mail…links

a) My website:


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