Maya Kulenovic: Life, Death and Love

The night must have been cool, but with the sun rising, the temperatures definitely would have risen to the unbearable. With parched throats and stinging shoe bites, they must have searched for known faces, in a sea of crowd. The crowd only got thicker and the wails and moans were deafening, until the gunshots and grenades silenced it all in foreboding warehouses and burning fields. Rivers turned scarlet and the sun shone brighter, and the night underscored the darkness of it all. Roses grew in place of corpses and snow froze the earth. Some searched for the non-existing, only to receive small packets of mud.

Maya Kulenovic would however paint instead of writing about the genocides, murders and wars that wreaked blitzkriegs upon blitzkriegs on the people of SFR Yugoslavia. She was born in 1975 in the present Bosnia & Herzegovina and lives in Canada. Maya neither seeks explanation nor does she provide any, but allows the viewer to interpret art in their own terms, allowing a personal space to each person in her paintings. Dwelling on themes of life, death and love, she encourages the viewer to understand the inadequacy of logical reasoning. Logic, which has been held in high esteem by mankind, has only led to brutal wars and genocides, while religion and politics continue to snuff out lives directly or indirectly.

Her paintings are almost shocking, but that is exactly what she does not want them to be. The mauled bodies of animals, the slaughterhouses are metaphors for genocides while the rest of the metaphors do suggest a yearning for spiritual salvation, a yearning for making peace with oneself. “Lambs” for instance makes quite an obvious reference to genocides. She does not paint events, but paints conditions. Genocides may have happened on a particular date in Srebrenica, or elsewhere in Bosnia. However, the same bloodbaths have taken place in Rwanda and in Darfur and continue to happen so. She refers to it as a “condition” which she sees is a characteristic of human beings.

There shall always be perpetrators and victims, killers and the killed and so on. While not offering a solution altogether, she does inspire the viewer to look within, and search for the greed that is the driving force of human lives. Somewhere between memory and reality, she creates a world of paint and colours that help the viewer to reveal thoughts unknown to himself or herself. Like a cave that opens into new crags and openings, her paintings do not have a singular interpretation or meaning. They make the viewer to think and continue to unravel the darkness that most refuse to see. She binds these confusing dark realities with an affection that transcends place, time and situation.

Strangely, one can’t help but feel affection towards everyone involved, and all feelings that are involved; for these are the parts that make up the whole of humanity. Heavy layers of paint depict the complexities of human mind, and the incomprehensible nature of life and death. Perhaps that is why her recent art has evolved to explore themes of psychology and moved away from the domain of wars of genocides. Though grotesque sometimes, and though there isn’t much for someone who is looking for a decorative piece of art, Maya‘s paintings are honest and candid, and help the viewer to change thought from being situational to being characteristic.

You could visit commercial galleries such as Gallerie Utrecht in order to purchase Maya Kulenovic’s paintings. There also is a hardcover book published in Holland (in English and Dutch) about her work,which can be ordered here.

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