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Artist Spotlight: Maja Djordjevic

Meet Maja Djordjevic: While building her new body of work for her solo exhibition at Carl Kostyál, ‘HOPE AND REBIRTH’, Maja felt as though she was watching the world fall apart. A uniquely porous individual, Djordjevic internalises others’ pain and experiences it as if it were her own. This quality, both precious and burdensome, often leaves the artist feeling powerless. In the spring, she wrote in her journals, “Za sve one preplakane bitke, gde nisam mogla nista da uradim” (For all the battles I cry, but I couldn’t do nothing). Unamenable to translation, this polysemous phrase encapsulates the artist's immense empathy, alongside the search for agency, restoration, equality and tranquillity at the heart of her recent work.

We spoke to Maja about the exhibition, the meaning behind her pieces and more… 

What would you like people to take away from ‘HOPE AND REBIRTH?’

HOPE AND REBIRTH was born from my desire to address social-political issues through my work. Art has long since been a vehicle to reflect on society at large, and through this series I wanted to explore my personal feelings in regards to the state of the world today while also conveying a hopeful and positive vision of the future. 

I know that art alone cannot fix anything, but I think that people need to be reminded of their humanity in times like these. When we reflect on our similarities rather than our differences, we are more inclined to consider the ways in which we can help one another - even from afar. 

Can you take me behind the meaning of your piece ‘We Sympathise! We Do!’?

Empathy, above all else. 

This was the last painting I created within this series, and I see it as a universal symbol of solidarity. The women pictured stand hand in hand, simply demonstrating the power of togetherness and unity. 

Why do you refer to the figure in your work as ‘My Girl’?

I have been painting her for over ten years, and she has been given various nicknames over that time. She is so important to me now, which I think is where the name comes from as a term of endearment - through her, a naked and honest representation of both myself and others, I have been able to answer so many questions in my own life while also manifesting collective struggles, hopes, dreams and experiences. While she is ‘mine’ in an intrinsic sense, I think she is most powerful as a stand-in for all individuals - manifesting the complexity of navigating daily life, while encouraging everyone to find empathy, humour, understanding and strength within themselves. 

Do you have any advice for those who, like you, dream of a brighter future despite how overwhelmingly heavy the world can feel?

I consider myself a very positive person, but with the current state of affairs it’s hard to give any advice on this point. I think it is something I am also battling with. 

The only way I have been able to find hope is through painting - both my own and that of others. My piece, 'I'm afraid no one will save me' is inspired by Eugène Delacroix's 'Liberty Leading the People’. This triumphant work commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X - it is a manifestation of ‘the power of the people’. Looking at historic paintings like this one gives me hope, as it reminds me of past moments that have forever changed the shape of our world. It makes me believe that, if we come together, we too have the capacity to dictate the conditions we inhabit. 

What changes do you hope to see in the art industry going forward? 

I would really like to see more art in public space - I want artists to take over the world. I think seeing more art and creativity on the streets would lift everyone up. 

With this in mind, myself and fellow artist Oli Epp have purchased two abandoned phone boxes in Brighton, located between the famous nudist beach and the Pier, and are going to be using them as public art installations. They are a symbol of our friendship and mutual support, but also a platform for young artists to exhibit their work in public space. Rosie McGinn, an emerging UK-based artist will be the first to present an installation - it opens on the 23rd of March and everyone is welcome to gather together and see it unveiled. 

If you enjoyed this conversation with Maja, make sure to check out our other Artist Spotlight interviews over on and whilst you’re there, why not have a look through all of the fantastic art we have for sale from emerging artists? Pop into the website to see what catches your eye…


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