World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 230 - Senad Alić
World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 230 - Senad Alić
What struck me most when I took a first look at the paintings by Senad Alić in the 'Afspiegelingen' (reflections) exhibition in the MLB gallery were the women in the choirs, who looked at me singing, the cherries that regularly popped up and the (dive) shelves, often full of people. With Edith de Jager we used the Visual Thinking Strategy method to look at two paintings by Alić, where we started to see more and more. Alić thought it all wonderful.
Senad Alić, after the presentation: "It is a compliment if the viewer sees so much in my work, even things that I have never seen myself."
Depart and arrive
Senad Alić has been living in the Netherlands since 1992. His paintings and drawings are exhibited everywhere in the Netherlands and abroad. He has autonomous work and he is also a community art artist. With other artists he developed many projects for city districts and for organizations such as Pax Christi, Unicef and Vluchtelingenwerk. He came to the Netherlands during the war in former Yugoslavia.
His experiences before he left, the arrival in a foreign country, the shock that this initially caused and the slow processing of the old and the new, are reflected in his paintings and drawings. Alić: “You take your family tradition and family story with you. I would like to pass that on, also to my children. My work is about people and the uncertainty that people carry with them. "
Good and bad memories
Initially he had the tendency to make the images in his paintings more beautiful, but two years ago he really started looking for himself. He confronted his good memories with his bad memories. The reason was a documentary that was made about his work and the history of his family. “Memories have so many layers. I had a strong tendency to separate those memories, the good and the bad. But all those years I had also made separate drawings, dummies full.” He shows such a booklet full of drawings and texts. In those drawings we see the horrific war stories.
Alić: “It was almost archaeological work. In those sketchbooks you often see people with guns, shooting and shouting. Relatives died. Portraits of myself too. I often see a desperate look. ”He called the works in which he brought together the good and the bad memories ‘Reflections’ (Afspiegelingen).
What am I?
We walk to the work ‘What am I?’ from 2017. That was a ‘bridge work’ as he calls it, a step to a new area. It is made with loose drawings that are pasted into the work. The drawings are from the booklets. “With cutting and pasting I created a new context, a story that I had hidden somewhere unknowingly. I had taken stories apart, also in my drawings and paintings. It was a new direction in my work. I discovered freedom.” At the bottom left of the work you can see a monster. "We actually live in a theater, we are on stage. Humor and art belong together."
The new work is also about his father. “He didn't want to speak for a long time. He was eighty when he started painting. And then those stories came, then he felt great urgency to share his memories and experiences with us. He often sat in his chair and cried with his hands beside his head (also seen on a work): ‘You must know’, ‘It can always happen again. Just like during the Second World War.’ And then he brought out another story that had long been hidden in the cracks of his mind."
In those new works we often see cherries popping up. There were plenty of cherry trees in the area where he comes from, a border region of Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro. “The cherries are ripe in May, which is a bit earlier than here. The cherries have a special taste, different from the cherries here. I had not tasted those cherries for 27 years. Every time in May I feel the need to make work with cherries. I can smell and see the color of May cherries at that moment.”
We walk to one of those cherry paintings and see cherries and a screaming little man with a megaphone in his hand. It is a starting point for the past. "When we were making the documentary film ‘Hope can be heavy’ by Rens Oomens, my father said that there were far fewer cherries on the trees than in the past. He did have an explanation for that. “You used to play and romp in the field, also in the cherry trees. Various branches broke off. But that was good for the trees, because they started to flower extra the following year, resulting in more cherries.”
In addition, a (diving) board, often full of people, regularly appears in its work. “That also has to do with the uncertainty that people feel. Standing on a shelf you have little space, but there is a lot of space around you. You can also get scared of space. If you are on the shelf, you have to make a choice. Am I going to jump? Am I going to fly? Will I stand still? We all feel it, it is a universal feeling.”
Senad Alić was born in Serajevo and went to study at the Technical University of Serbia in Nis. Even then, he painted, still lifes and landscapes. For example, he painted somewhat hazy mountains around the city of Priboj. "Work with a lot of depth, also openness, with few or no people in it." Only in the Netherlands did people appear in his paintings. "I then discovered man in a different way, it was a man I didn't know."
After his studies he went to work as an engineer in a truck factory. “I worked in the factory for five years. I was never happy with my work at the factory. The paintwork gives me a lot of satisfaction, I never felt that when I worked as a technical engineer. Later the factory went bankrupt and all people ended up on the street. "
Multiplex Foundation (stichting Multiplex)
When he arrived in the Netherlands in the early 1990s, he did painting courses in various places in Amsterdam, he was admitted at the Rietveld Academy, but that was cancelled by the Social Services. He continued his art education in Leiden. “I learned a lot there, including with artists in Amsterdam, I learned about art, modern art and the technical aspects of painting. Then I started making drawings and illustrations for Amsterdam magazines. I was also active in the Multiplex Foundation, which involved artists from all over the world. We worked with street youth, in prisons and asylum centers."
He often has exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad. He does notice that it is difficult to get by on painting and drawing alone in the Netherlands. “Fortunately I discovered community art on time. I went from one foundation to another. For twenty years I have been involved with Stichting De Vrolijkheid, which does art projects in asylum centers. I am still involved in the development of new projects. As a trainer I provide training for the teams of Vrolijkheid (cheerfulness) in the country. Vrolijkheid works in 30 asylum centers and I also provide training on diversity. The foundation is close to my heart. "
Art as a means of communication
He is now artistic director of the De Werkelijkheid foundation. “More than 70 makers are connected to this, often with a refugee or migration history. Three years ago we did a project on 50 years of migration in the Netherlands.” He is currently doing a project on diversity in schools and he gives guest lessons at teacher training colleges and the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. "The starting point is responding from an artistic angle to developments in society."
Finally: what is his philosophy? Senad Alić: “I believe in the power of art as a means of communication. You need a common language to understand each other. Art can pick up a story of someone that was hidden in a dark room. You can shape that story so that my story becomes a story for someone else. That way we are really visible to each other. That ensures connection. "
1) Collage 2018, 2) ZT Collage 2018, 3) ZT Collage 2018, 4) Collage 2017, 5) Collage 2017, 6) Collage on canvas 2018, 7) Collage 2017, 8) Collage 2017, 9) collage 2019, 10) collage 2019, 11) collage 2019, 12) lost paradise 1, 13) ZT Collage 2018, 14) portrait Senad Alic