Interview – Maria Berger – Belgrade Art Studio Online Residency


When did you realize that art can be part of your life since you have another profession? What do you feel is crucial to your growth as an artist? 

Art was an integral part of my life from the beginning, as far as I remember. I spent all day drawing and painting as a child. I started using a pencil at the same time as a spoon when I was six months old, sitting straight and using my hands. According to my parents, I started using scissors and received my first watercolour paints when I was three. When I was two years old, I drew doves under the sofa in the living room on the freshly renovated wall. My parents asked e to draw them on paper and put them in the family album. I decided to study psychology, theology and religious science because it was my interest too. But it was also because of the rejection of my portfolio twice. Once it was in 1984, in Warsaw. The second time was in 2013 in Montreal. However, I never gave up and started studying Visual Arts in 2018 in Edmonton. I believe that participation in the artist community is crucial to growth as an artist. Artists can inspire and support each other. They can cooperate to create art trends and styles together.

What are your main influences, and how do you approach your subject matter and colour palette? 

I like renaissance art and portrait. My art history teacher was an expert in the renaissance and can’t stop talking about this in every class. I have a special admiration for the work of Leonardo da Vinci, and I feel that someone should use his too many unfinished pieces to repaint them in the present time. My second inspiration is American artist Alex Grey. I believe that his experiment on the connection between art and spirituality is something that our world needs now. As a theologian, I’m interested in sacral art, and traditional orthodoxy icons inspire me a lot.

How would you describe your artistic style so far, and which way do you wish it to develop?

It is too early to talk about this. I’m a new graduate and still searching to discover my style. I like colours, gold, and copper and using them in my present experiments. As a social psychologist, I’m interested in socially engaged themes. The effect of my experiments we will see in a few years.

To what extent does the pandemic influence your depiction of art? Does it generate new inspiration?  

The restrictions started in march 2020 are an opportunity for the artist to have a voice about social, political and economic problems. Artists often bring new ideas to make the world better. It is also the opportunity to make the visual documentation of the present time. It will be a historical document, not only a piece of art.

How do you feel about being involved in an online residency program? How important is it to stay connected with the international art community? 

The artist residency is a chance to learn, inspire, exchange and cooperate. Cultural differences enrich our imagination and knowledge and expand our horizons.

What are your thoughts about the theme ‘artist on standby’? Tell us a bit more about your project.

I love that theme. It is what we have to do as artists. We can support each other, cooperate and as a united group of people. After, we can bring support to society, especially in the present difficult time. We are essential in a time like this.

What do you want to achieve before things return to normal if it is to happen? Do you have any plans/projects for the future?

I feel we will never be back to our previous way of living. The recent behaviour of unelected individuals from the World Economic Forum unveils the plans impossible to accept by conscientious people. I see the role of artists a s a warriors in the battle to eliminate this danger. Artistic imagination and creativity can help plan a better new World. It is a long process, possibly until the end of my life. We should protect the future generation from the disaster we are facing now.