Amer Kobaslija, Janitor's Closet
Before grad school my artistic focus was typically on things that I felt people wanted to look at. Things that made them feel good. Although I can find aesthetic beauty in some pretty obscure places, I never thought others would be interested in paintings of these things, so I stayed with subjects I felt viewers would be more comfortable with. Last semester when I began to juxtapose images that were in close physical proximity, but vastly different in subject, I found that my peers and professors alike were more interested in the less romantic subjects that I typically cast aside. This new exploration of what I perceive as "unwanted" spaces has led me to paint images of both interior and exterior spaces that lead the viewer to pause and reconsider those things that they may look past everyday that actually hold an element of interest upon closer examination.
One of the artists I was referred to Amer Kobaslija. Ironically, after looking into his work I attended a presentation at a SECAC conference in October where one of the presenters was an art historian talking about Kobaslija's work. While it would have been exciting to meet him personally, it was interesting to learn a little more about his background and his work. Kobaslija is a Bosnian artist who fled to south Floriday in 1997 with his parents. His work is typically based around what he refers to as "places and spaces" - interiors and exteriors. Many of his interiors are dirty, messy, cluttered spaces. He even did a series of public restrooms that I found interesting since one of the paintings I did last semester was a dirty bathroom that received a very positive response in spite of my doubts about the subject. his exteriors are often desolate ruined landscapes. One would think that, as a refugee, he would focus on the ravages of war, but he doesn't, at least not in any literal sense. He has done work depicting the destruction following disasters like hurricanes, but his work usually doesn't include human figures, and tend to focus on the destruction of the landscape as opposed to making any kind of political statement.
Kobaslija's approach to his subject is very energetic and actively invites the viewer to pause and explore the space he is depicting. He uses loose painterly brushstrokes to create a very active, detailed painting. His works vary in scale from several feet across to just a few inches, but regardless of the scale he manages to keep his viewer engaged in the work. Kobaslija often uses either a birds-eye view or a distorted fish-eye perspective that distorts the view of his interiors and creates interest. While many of his paintings show very cluttered spaces, and force the viewer to explore the canvas almost like a scavenger hunt, I find that some of his more recent work is very similar to the spaces that I have been painting - simple and empty, yet still beautiful. He manages to create interesting compositions with simple every day spaces.
Amer Kobaslija, Chelsea Restroom V
Amer Kobaslija, Door View