Interview by Fashionel

In 2016, among other interesting stories and interviews, Fashionel will present a cycle of talks with successful and creative worldwide Macedonian expatriates around the world. The names of some of them may not be as established in our country, but their hard work and success that has been achieved beyond these limits is a strong reason for discussing with them and introducing them to the domestic public.

A few days ago we visited the “Osten” gallery in order to get acquainted with the artist Gordana Vincic. The gallery is currently hosting her solo exhibition “Intuitive confession” in which (you can see a part of her)30 drawings being exposed; images of women, in combined technique (charcoal, pastel and ink) on paper.

For 20 years Gordana has been living and working in Sweden. She was born in Skopje, a place where she always returns to with great love. In 1998 she graduates from Social Work and Policy studies at the renowned University of Lund. After her graduation she starts to deal with psychology, and enriches her career with a 15-year leadership experience in several areas.

Given the fact that our public is not very familiar with her, we initially asked her to introduce herself and tell us – who is Gordana Vincic:

A woman with a positive outlook on life. I consider myself to be artist at heart, because for the last 15 years I was keeping myself occupied with something else. I was working as a social worker and a leader in Sweden for many years. I had a good position, good income, and was truly considered a successful woman, but I left all that behind in order to devote myself to painting. This has been my occupation for the past five years and my source of income. I also have my own therapy company, where art is part of the tools for achieving harmony.

Surrounded by her works, which at first sight one might perceive as very explicit and open, and we could not resist but ask, whether Macedonians really understood ” Intuitive confession ” in the right way.

I received positive criticism. I am very open to criticism, because that is the only way you can upgrade and improve yourself. I need to provoke in order to get some negative reactions (laughs). But I was positively surprised. The works are open, there are parts of eroticism presented by touching the genitals, which are emphasized. However, the focus is not on it. I was able to get a critical review from one psychologist about how he experienced the exhibition, which coincides with what I wanted to show – my intuitive click, that the way I work reflects in each of my paintings. All of my drawings contain an emotional state that is released and makes room for intuition.

Thus subconsciously “I touch ” the observer in this way, I subconsciously “touch” the observer, not directly.  What was interesting is that when several television channels came to film here, the presenters made a point not to film the “explicit” drawings, so that they won’t lose their jobs. This was said as a joke, but there is some truth in that. When they observed the paintings from close however, they started recording only them. I felt that as in my premonition, but more importantly this comes as a release from what is known as shame or taboo – explains Vincic. I guess my premonition was felt, but even more importantly, release from shame was achieved – explains Vincic.

But, she also says that not only the Macedonians are embarrassed.

When you manage to get rid of the shame, you will in reality experience a relief. When you come out as one of the women in the painting in front of a man he will be afraid, he will ask – what is wrong with her? Men are accustomed for a woman to be shy, and do not realize that doesn’t make them seem manlier, as they believe they should be and act in front of a shy woman. How much of a macho will this man feel, if that woman is free like a queen? They want a free woman, but they carry with them certain “traditional rules” which restrict them. In essence, a man can be free, if he lets his woman become free. When he releases her, the person automatically releases himself and vice versa. So we react to something that is “shameful”, while at the same time we are attracted by it. This is not the case only here but worldwide too. Even in Sweden. This is considered taboo, marked as the intimacy of a woman. I think a man cannot draw a woman, as she can draw herself; completely. In that intimacy there is no place for a man, a man cannot fully reflect her. I will take Gustav Klimt or Picasso, they both painted women, but I would compete with them. I know now I am being a little insolent, just as in the pictures, but I think that my works have more feelings, because they are integrated with me. The woman on the paintings – that’s me – reveals Gordana.

On the question how Sweden cares about the artists, she replies:

To blend in society, it is not easy, but it is easier than here. It isn’t easy there either, but definitely easier than here. The state provides resources, people have it in their culture to go to galleries and art is valued more. The other day I had a chance to ride with a taxi driver I invited him to the exhibition, and he told me he could not come because that requires money. I told him it does not cost anything. People are not even aware that you don’t need money to access a gallery and view the exhibition, to get inspired and experience beautiful feelings. In Macedonia the mentality is that culture is only for those who have lots of money. That it is elitist. Too bad. Later on, the taxi driver said: “My parents never took me to exhibitions, I do not have that habit.” This is one of the key problems. If ordinary people start going to galleries more, this will create a chain reaction. If people have no interest in it, why should the state invest in it? I have done exhibitions in other countries – England, France, Russia, so Sweden is not the only country which I’m taking as a reference for comparison. Art is present in everyone’s daily life. There are pop-up galleries, in which art reaches people. I heard that there have been some attempts for that here too, but people are still afraid of art. I will say it again, it does not cost a lot of money, you do not even have to buy it, seeing is enough is enough to see.

Intuition is sacred for her. She relies on it and follows it. She often mentions it during our conversation. And on the question if her intuition has ever lied to her, she says:

Since childhood intuition has served me great. I’m not even thinking about it as intuition, but as an inner feeling that speaks to you and guides you. In the period after puberty it gets a little lost because you receive “plaques”, meaning that certain norms, both from home and social ones overrule. And what is imposed at home remains, certain norms, domestic rules social acceptance etc. And when intuition appears, you suppress it, because you say to yourself, “But no, my parents must be right, I better stick to the work I do, and not try to change it for something that’s not certain.” I would not say that my intuition has ever cheated on me. I would rather say that I’ve been the one to betray her. The more you betray her, the less she talks to you, until she finally disappears. You become dissatisfied, unhappy, and you do not realize the reason for it. That inner voice disappears and it feels as if that is not you. I speak from personal experience, although it is true to scale, given that I have certain knowledge about the psychological development of man.

Artists often tend to say they are misunderstood It is often said that artists are misunderstood. She admits that she sometimes feels that way.

It’s an eternal dilemma. As a successful business woman, greatly accepted by the family, I have a family and children, but when I decided to engage in this five years ago, and to leave my comfort zone, which is something hardly anyone would do, I felt misunderstood by everyone. Especially by the older generations. I’m talking specifically about making this decision. They do not change their workplace during their whole lives, and when they finally retire, they get a gold watch and that’s it – Gordana is definite.

Gordana hasn’t been a very frequent guest in Skopje, but says that will change soon due to favorable airline flights. On route we asked her how a typical day in Sweden looks for her and how in Skopje.

No matter where I am, do I take a lot of time for intensive and quality socializing. When in communication many things tend to occur – you listen to different issues and get inspired. The different characters of people inspire me a lot. From morning to evening I paint, literally. I cannot stop. Not a day passes without something to draw or paint. I am guided by a “red thread” and I allow it to guide me to the next meeting, next discovery. I’m merged with mythology in my everyday life, with the stories, and the symbolism of the synchronization of what is happening to us. For example, it happened to me once that during the day, I went to the park and found a Bible. I opened to see which page would open for me and what did the text intent to tell me. I was supposed to decorate a chair for a competition on that day. That day it happened to have the task to decorate a chair for a competing match. The Bible opened to the page where it was written, “the chair of Moses.” Only in that one place in the whole book the chair of Moses is mentioned. That synchronicity for me is not a coincidence. My day is filled with the request of any joints that I will then use to create an image and a message. All visual images that I create behold a message which need to reach your subconscious. Also, I love to go to nature. To accomplish contact with water, air, fire. I adore it; it is inspirational for me. In Skopje the connection with the four elements for me is very strong and it’s one of the things that I especially like. When I come here I actually know how to connect in a special manner, obtain a message as a result and get inspired. which from those elements I obtain a message, I get inspired. In such way in the ancient times history had been created … Through the exhibition that I made here, I actually did something valuable for Macedonia without her knowing about it – highlight the artist.

What mostly surprised us from meeting with Gordana, was when she revealed to us that her house in Sweden is actually an old Macedonian Church.

(All the following images were created as a collaboration between Gordana and a mysterious male artist from Macedonia who will remain anonymous until they are exhibited.)

Yes, it is very interesting and specific for me. I did not plan to buy a house, to get into debt, but it was simply destined for me. I do not believe in coincidence, and religion occupies a large part of my life. It has left a strong impression, but my interpretation changes throughout life. A church is a symbol that nothing is dogmatic. I have also read the Qur’an which states that: “The road to God is as much sand as it has in the wilderness.” The fact that I live and work within interior space of a church shows me that the Lord arranges all matters, and is also open to all things. The house has that spirit and tranquility characteristic of the church. When Swedish people come to the studio and want to buy something, they are impressed by the space and the atmosphere. Outside the house, the Orthodox cross is still standing, while the interior is renovated. The chandeliers are still there. The space is still the same, the ceiling is five and a half meters high and regarding the physiognomy, almost everything is retained. Several parts around the altar are also preserved, and the whole space is adapted to life and creation – reveals the artist.

Like only a few would state, she says she has everything she wants. And all that is actually the freedom to create:

That Freedom, according to the law of attraction, attracts many things around me – including love, inspiration, travel and various figures …as in time travel… I do not need anything else. Earlier in my years I desired a nice car, fancy hairstyle, not sure what else… Yes, I still do desire that, but that is not my priority. It’s not what I want the most. The freedom to create is most important. I do not have to ask anyone for anything, in order to acquire things, but I do it on my own, with my own works.

This is where we finished our conversation. Gordana told us that her “intimate confession” will travel to Kavadarci in early May. Later this year, her exhibitions are expected in Ukraine, more concretely in Odessa. In July and August, she will be working in the city, and then the works will be exhibited at the National Museum of Odessa. The exhibition is funded by the Russian Federation. In October, another exhibition awaits her in Stockholm, in the garden of the king.

The exhibition in Skopje will be open until April 26th for those who did not have a chance to visit it yet.

I am honored that the oldest gallery in Skopje, “Osten” and the Skopje City Museum included me among the 70 authors who will be on the art map, as part of the celebration of 70 years of existence as a national legacy and wealth – shared with us Gordana at the end.

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