Underground and independent as a way to build-up an everyday creative process that never ends
It is an honor for our Under-blog to host an interview to a visual artist of the caliber of Danijel Žeželj. He is a great man and one of the greatest visual artists ever, words in some cases do not add much compared to the contribution of his Art.
We already had the honor of hosting Danijel a few weeks ago on our streaming channel (CCTv) for a live streaming performance and it was simply super! He did a special live painting show with music performed by a young artist from Pisa Underground Movement, DEVICE. Danijel welcomed this initiative with enthusiasm, asking us to be able to highlight during the live one of the Italian’s fundraising initiatives to deal with coronavirus emergency and we thought it might be the opportunity for Tuscan hospitals. It was a beautiful afternoon and many followed us (see at the end the video extract).
After, we asked Danijel to participate in our Factory Asks with few questions, thinking that would be a great inspiration for many other artists and people who follow our blog and our activities.
Who are you? Please describe yourself in few sentences
I’m a visual artist, I make graphic novels, paintings, prints, animations, live painting & live music performances. The common thread of all these works is visual narration, exploration of storytelling through images. That’s what keeps me going, finding the narrative line in a single image or a sequence of images.
How did your artistic career begin (just an anecdote)?
The very first work that I have “published”, or make public, was a painting on the wall I secretly made with a couple of friends in the underground passage in Zagreb’s train station. I was 16 or 17 years old. It was a painting of a boxer with the makeup of a clown. Although I started publishing my first comics a few years later I always felt that this clown boxer was my first “official” artwork. But the wall painting was quite bad:)
What is you work mainly inspired by?
The relationship. In every possible sense: the relationship between friends and enemies, the relationship between man and his dog, the relationship between a broken window and the street bellow, the relationship between an orange and apple, between art and politics, between black and white, between light and shadow, etc. It’s all about the relationship and the balance.
As a visual artist what is your maximum aspiration?
I work with my hands. I paint, draw, cut, spray, stamp, erase and then do it all over again. I guess my aspiration is to keep working and stay excited about it as long as possible.
What does underground/independent mean to you, if still mean something?
It means a lot, always. Underground and independent to me means being ready and willing to use your own mind and hands to construct and build something, to create. It does not have to be “Art” as in traditional classification of Arts, it could be carpentry, cooking, programing, geology, woodwork, any craft you learn and become good at. If you learn a craft, you have an instrument for building things up, and you can keep building and learning. It’s an everyday creative process that never ends.
What do you think about Art communities in your city and beyond?
I have never been too deeply involved in working within any art community or movement, I prefer to keep my independence and stay away from established rules of any group. I spent many years living abroad, in Italy, Seattle and New York, so I learned that your home and community is wherever you are, and in my experience, it is more important what you can give than what you receive. Also, today and more than ever before, we definitely all live in a global village, so the idea of community has much broader meaning. Never the less, the sense of community and home comes down to your own personal choice of right or wrong, positive or negative, and whatever direction you decide to take and however you spend your time and energy.
What are your next projects?
Because of the ongoing pandemic, some of the exhibitions and live painting projects have been canceled, but other work is ongoing. I just finished a graphic novel about Vincent van Gogh and it will be published in France in September, by Glénat Editions, with an exhibition in Paris (if corona permits). I’m also starting work on a new animation movie “The Drummer”, and then another couple of graphic novels, one written by myself and the other by Ales Kot, for USA publisher Image.
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Info and links:
Danijel is a well-known and respected visual artist, he has published and exhibited for: The New York Times, Marvel Comics, Washington Chronicle, DC Comics, the San Francisco Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, Dark Horse, L’Espresso, Il Grifo, De Agostini, Image Comics, Dargaud, Editions Mosquito, Hazard Edizioni Eris Edizioni and others.
Please check his website for additional info.
DANIJEL ZEZELJ – BLUE Live Painting on CCTv – Music by DEVICE