Natasa Radojevic is curator, art historian, a founder of the cultural platform “Logic Art Space” in Florence, Art Director and Partner of Drina Gallery in Belgrade. She has collaborated with international galleries, institutions and collections, and her professional career has greatly devoted to build and strengthen the relationships between artists from Southeast Europe and other countries, but primarily with her second home, Italy. Currently, she is preparing few projects for the gallery spaces in Florence, Belgrade, Milan, art fairs and museum spaces. Despite her busy schedule she managed to find the time to answer our questions.
Is it possible to judge art objectively?
The first thing I learned in art history studies is that there are no wrong answers in art. There’s a delineation between personal preferences and aesthetic judgments. Our subjective experience of enjoying something cannot be wrong because it is incorrigible. Liking vs. Disliking something may be a valid indicator of pleasure, but the depth and complexity yet distinct from pleasure, are the knowledge emotions like surprise, confusion, awe, beauty, etc.; associated with beliefs about thoughts and knowledge that arise from metacognitive processes. We can be better or worse critics, but it doesn’t mean the better is always right and worse always wrong. So, my answer is: No.
Is the art market monopolized by a small number of very successful artists?
It is definitely related to power, but the art market is not an object that can be possessed. It is a huge and complex organism that functions on many different levels.
Can you tell us something about the concept of Drina Art Gallery and the artists that it represents?
Drina is a multidisciplinary platform devoted to contemporary art in all terms. Founded in 2016 in Belgrade as a contemporary art gallery that aims to nurture and reconnect the best talent from the region with the international art scene. Acting as a transcultural mediator, Drina orchestrates collaborations between Eastern and Western European and overseas artists, institutions, collectors and galleries through the production of artworks, exhibitions, publications, and commissioned services. In this capacity, Drina aims to connect and present strong, consistent, and innovative artworks from young, emerging, and well-known artists that showcased their work in important art institutions, museums, galleries, fairs, or during exhibitions such as Venice Biennale, Milan Triennale, etc. Stemmed from the desire of exploring and experimenting with the possibilities of collaborative platforms, Drina aims to facilitate further international projects, building the bridge between the international scene and a hub of artistic activity in Belgrade.
What are your current projects?
I would like to note a few projects: Serbia’s project INFINITY OF STRUCTURE, which is showcased at the 23rd International Exhibition at the Triennale di Milano theme Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries is an anthropological vision of contemporary art that aims to explore the human relationship with the unknown through the innate need to create sacred symbols. The exhibition is co-curated with Biljana Jotić.
Serbia’s project INFINITY OF STRUCTURE; Photo: Davide Calafa
Through various means of contemporary art, Ivan Mangov’s team made up of artists Marko Lađušić, Aleksandar Vac, Marko Todorović and Dorian Jovanović, takes us to the realm of symbols through the ornaments of Serbian medieval fresco paintings. The repeated medieval motifs, hidden in a lively rhythm of free structures, through an almost microscopic approach by the author, overlap the present and the past – the suppressed returns and the invisible makes its way.
Augmented Reality expansion of Marko Ladjusic’s installation, 2022, Photo: Luka Tilinger
“The complex and fascinating cosmological “structure” of Infinity of Structure devoted to worship of the dreamlike, of the symbology, of the rare and of the lyric, full of intellectual stratifications, cultural and metaphysical, thus becomes a unique sensory experience of its kind, wherever past, present, and future coexist in a cohesive stage of pleasant harmony and in which the question about infinity finds a whispered answer in the very intertwining of being, in its more hidden meanders and in its manifest trajectories, in the smallest material element in its vastness of expanded light.” (…) – Domenico de Chirico
Detail of the wall installation by Aleksandar Vac, 2022, Smoke fired ceramics
From December until March 2023 the artlovers will be able to discover a new series of the works of Marko Lađušić and Aleksandar Vac during the exhibition (W)hole New Level in Florence. (Aria Art Gallery in collaboration with Drina)
TIMELINESS – An exhibition that erases the space-time dimension and enriches ancient and contemporary masterpieces with new meanings. Timelessness presents about 30 works, divided into the exhibition spaces of Frascione Arte and Aria Art Gallery. Some of the artists are: Miloš Todorović, Salustiano, Gabriele di Matteo, Carole Feuerman, Szymon Oltarzewski, etc.
Exhibition Timlessness – Aria Art Gallery Florence; Artists: Szymon Oltarzewski, Miloš Todorović, Agostino Beltrano
LA QUITESSENZA – The project that brings together 14 international, featuring 22 works in variety of media, including painting, ceramics, sculpture, mixed media, works on paper, and photography by: Cristiano Pintaldi, Raul Cordero, Igor Eskinja, Giuseppe Pietroniro, Szymon Oltarzewski, Federico Luger…
Are you exploring artists that interest you personally?
Who were some of your most interesting discoveries?
I have met many artists who have left an indelible mark. Having said that, the list is really long, but I will mention just a few artists that I have collaborated with recently or I would love to: Miloš Todorović, Szymon Oltarzewski, Edoardo Dionea Cicconi, LABOTIV – Claire Clelia Baldo e Piero Viti, Aleksandar Vac, Igor Eskinja, Giuseppe Pietroniro, Mariella Bettinischi, Iva Lulashi, Raul Cordero, Marko Lađušić, Daniele Sigalot, Jelena Tomašević…
Can the personality of an artist influence your evaluation of their work?
It cannot influence my opinion about their work, but it can definitely influence my decision about collaboration with them.
Has the art world become more democratic over the years?
I’m not sure what you intend for “democratic”, but maybe even to much. (laughs) The contemporary art world is a very complex issue and it is influenced by many contradictory factors that sometimes have (almost) nothing to do with talent and creativity. Strong marketing and the digital age have expanded the bounds of creativity and given power and artistic license to everyone. A world within which exists simulations upon simulations, copies of copies of copies – in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning. As J. Baudrillard said, “We live in an age of simulacra.”
Do you collect art more with your heart or do you consider its possible future value?
Only and exclusively with my heart. Everything else is just a consequence.
How would you describe a good curator?
The one who cares.
Photo: Nemanja Taneski; Dress: Marija Stankovic Pasqalis; Jewellery: Hota Hota
What is the distinction between a gallerist and an art dealer?
While an art gallery and the art dealer make their living by commercialization of art, the gallerist aim is to promote and they are also involved in curating and organizing exhibitions. To be a gallerist means to be the one that takes a risk every day for long-term goals.
How has Art Basel changed over the years?
It has become bigger and bigger, and the focus is more and more on quantity. Monetary value comes before content. Of course, you can always find a high quality works, but they seem to be hidden in the sea of commercial, overrated artworks. On the other hand, I am positive about the fact that Art Basel incorporated many other side-shows and off-spaces around the exhibition like Volta and Liste.
What kind of an effect do you think Art Basel has on the market?
Like Kim Kardashian on the fashion.
What do you think about the contemporary art scene in Serbia and Italy?
Italy is a country with a great heritage and a developed sense for it. The number of professional artists is very high and also their level of production. Serbia’s turbulent history contributed to the authenticity of expression, but also to the lack of awareness. First of all, it is necessary to work on raising awareness about contemporary art in Serbia.
Contemporary art has long been treated by people all over the planet as the best investment, and that sector has grown like no other in the last decades. If we think about cultural strategy, we are talking about a concept that is inseparable from the unification of economy and, what is most important – the state that creates the tax conditions and context for this to happen. In other words, it is necessary for the state to encourage the purchase and investment in art with its laws, and not to punish this procedure.
My speech at the ninth CEI Venice Forum for Contemporary Art Curators during the opening of the Venice Biennale, where I had the honor to perform as one of six young curators who were selected was: The Western Balkans in a Global Context: Visibility and Diversity. Memory. Trends. Future. I spoke about the current situation and the key problems that affect the visibility and development of our art scene, but on the other hand also about its specificity. We have a task to nurture memory – personal and collective – as we create the future precisely by using our memories. Serbia has a huge potential and specific parameters to create an original mark that will position us not only on the European, but also on the global stage. We should turn our exoticism into an asset, not to deal with cheap copies.
Serbia’s project INFINITY OF STRUCTURE; Photo: Davide Calafa
How would you describe NFT Art and do you consider its influence when you think about your work strategy?
Like many other phenomena related to the art market, it had its own artificial explosion. If we speak in terms of the global tendencies of our time, almost everything becomes fashion and entertainment. We live in the simulation of reality and a time of global spectacle, invaded by virtual reality and consumerism. For me, NFT is just a new medium on the beginning of its development. I don’t think about it in terms of strategy. I am not exclusive about any contemporary media, but the content. It is enough that they don’t look like a bad copy of screensavers from the 90s.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring artist trying to make it in the art world?
To be open, brave, honest, loyal, tenacious, to take a risks, and to work a lot.
Vesna Filipovic and Vukota Brajovic for Fashionela.