With her bold and self-confident work, young and charming artist Anđelka Radojević has built her admirable career, patiently as befits an excellent mosaic artist, and shown that “painting in stone” is a form that attracts public attention worldwide. Impressive works, created by skilled and fine processing of material that symbolizes eternity, have embellished numerous private estates and artistic buildings, including yachts built by globally renowned shipyards.
When and how did you realize that this unconventional art form will be your path and calling in life? What makes it special and attractive to you personally?
At the final year at the Academy, Department of Painting, I had mosaic as a subject. It immediately attracted me with beauty and the fact that in this technique there is so much new to say. One of the toughest, but also the oldest painting methods in the world enchanted me because it is at the same time classic and modern; artistic, applied, and above all permanent – it remains for future generations to enjoy.
It is said that creating a mosaic takes particular persistence, courage and endurance. Why is that so?
Making mosaics is a particularly complex process. The idea is first developed on paper, then it is realized in stone by patient cutting and forming, while the finish itself is reserved for hard work – casting and installation. Only rare people survive in this business because it requires full commitment, hard physical and mental work, and the material is not easily accessible or cheap. I am fortunate to have achieved exceptional cooperation and a strong friendship with the Dona family, which has for decades produced Murano paste in the heart of Venice and whose experts follow me on all my projects.
What does the process of making one of your works of art look like, where do you find inspiration, and what is the greatest challenge for you on this way?
From idea to realization- it’s is a long way. It can have several directions, and it depends on whether you have your own personal project or the client’s idea to be implemented as the starting point. Inspiration is created by my experience, environment and heritage. The goal is always the same, reflected in originality and leaving a personal mark. Avoiding ‘déjà vu’ is the biggest challenge for every artist.
Connoisseurs of your work claim that you have revived an unjustly neglected form of art and managed to place it in the spotlight. Are you proud of your accomplishments? Do such claims feel as a burden or do they fill your sails with wind?
I do not consider myself to be exclusively responsible for the revival of mosaic art in Serbia, because, fortunately, it has never died out, primarily thanks to religious art. On the other hand, I have definitely made a step forward, especially on the international scene where my work is highly appreciated and present. I’m glad to be present, in most cases as the only representative from Serbia, at prestigious exhibitions and in the galleries of America, Argentina, France and Italy. I was particularly pleased when I read in the press the review by one of the leading critics, stating that I have pushed the boundaries of this form of art with one of my latest mosaics. I’m not afraid to experiment with new materials, and I think artists are successful if they include novelties and if they are authentic. As a confirmation of this, I will share with your readers the exclusive news that I will take part in the prestigious mosaic exhibition of the ”Musiwa Week” in Florence this June, which will be placed in the famous Medici Palace, and the opening of which will be attended by the Italian political and cultural elite. The media have already announced this exhibition as the cultural event of the year in Italy.
You have held numerous workshops, both for amateurs and professional mosaic artists around the globe. What experiences and impressions do you take from such events, and what motivates you to transfer your knowledge and skills to others?
Achieving high results in the world of mosaics in my case has been due to my university painting education, as well as the fact that I entered the world of art at the age of nine. Drawing, that is, line is the basis of artistic expression. My students first learn about its importance. My approach to each attendant is individual, I quickly discover their level of knowledge, I teach them not to make the mistakes I used to make. I first emphasize ‘art literacy’, and the technique itself is learned through practice. They say that I open their eyes so they can see their own mistakes and help them realize their projects with understanding. Their success and awards make me happy, and so does the fact that they often return to new workshops. Over 400 students in the last seven or eight years, I consider that to be a great success, as well as the fact that I am currently the youngest lecturer in the world with such references. My job has enabled me to visit some of the most beautiful countries in the world, to learn about their culture and tradition, but also to make new friends and business contacts.
To what extent have journeys and direct contact with other cultures and destinations affected your personal and artistic development?
All our life experiences generate inspiration and influence the development of art in general. The artistic, gallery and professional community, as well as clients that I meet in close or distant destinations, are good hosts and representatives of their countries. This gives me a direct and deep insight into everything that people who travel as tourists cannot feel or experience. Yes, all of this affects my creativity to some extent, because the basic source of inspiration is found in deep observation, curious observation, memories and remembrance of important moments. South Africa, Brazil, America, Israel, Chile, Argentina are the countries outside Europe that I have visited as a lecturer, and all those I have visited privately also left a permanent mark. However, my biggest drivers are, and always will be, the treasures and beauty of Serbia.
Do you find satisfaction in the fact that you are a representative of your country at international competitions and that you enjoy respect of the artistic elite from all over the world? How important is such confirmation for an artist?
I have participated several times in international exhibitions as the only representative from this region. Therefore, the Serbian flag fluttered at those events, and only those who have experience this know how good it feels. The fact that I have been selected or praised in this way speaks about quality. It was a special honor to participate as the first artist from Serbia in the competition part of the Ravenna Mosaic Biennale and to see that my work was really appreciated. However, it is definitely the most important thing for an artist when being present at such an event opens a new door. Whether it’s a new contact, an invitation for new participation, a sold exhibit, or a new job does not matter, it’s important that the story does not end there, but that the circle of collectors, galleries or companies willing to invest in your art keeps expanding. It is very pleasant to know that my mosaics are in private collections around the world and that my clients are often people who are proven and appreciated in their line of work, with precisely formed and sophisticated taste. I am also happy that the owners of luxury real estate are increasingly choosing to embellish their interior with mosaics as the ultimate expression of uniqueness, sophistication, style and extravagance.
Your job demands, it involves visiting quarries, working with a hammer on daily basis, and as a consequence – blistered and painful hands. How important is it that as a woman, through your work, you deny that mosaic is intended primarily for strong male constitution?
Since I was very young, my family used every free moment to spend time in the nature. The quest for interesting stones has always been a challenge and a pleasure, even when in the end you have to carry the heavy load to the car. You know very well that women are skilled in hiding their imperfections, so we are always expected to present ourselves in the best light. On the art scene, the work you create, everything you say, and finally the way you look and what you wear, represent you as a person and as an artist.
Who did you work with in the nautical industry, and what is the feeling of knowing that your works are exhibited on prestigious yachts?
I am particularly proud of the fact that my mosaics dominate the interior of some mega yachts. If I’m not mistaken, my studio is the only one in the Balkans that produces fine art mosaics (fine art projects) for mega yachts, using high-tech materials. I would single out two projects – one made in three tones of white onyx in the minimalist style, for a “Lurssen” mega yacht of 130 m, but unfortunately I cannot speak of this work since the client protected the exclusivity of his yacht through the confidentiality agreement, and the second project involved the production of a part of the interior of the famous M / Y “Areti”, which was the star of the Monaco Yacht Show in 2017. For this mosaic it took several months of everyday work in order to transfer the motifs of a rose and very interesting ornaments. The design of this mega yacht of 85 m was signed by the British team “Winch Design” with which I worked closely, and the yacht was also built in the shipyard “Lurssen” in Germany. All the major world nautical magazines have written about these my mosaics and the interior of “Areti”.
What are your professional aspirations? What do you strive for, what do you dream about?
I am very ambitious and I plan to get the best out of what nature has given me. I will try to realize all my dreams, so I hope that you will write about them. For now, let it remain unsaid.
Tekst/Text: Marija Milošević
Foto: Igor Đurović