Ivan Milisic is an artist based in Paris, France. His focus is primarily on research on how blurry the line between the figurative and abstract can be, by putting the light, line, and space at the spotlight of each of his drawings. He depicts hands as a way of showing emotions, situations, encounters, but not imposing the meaning. Hands are used as a means to an end, a new dimension. Enlarged and multiplied in series, they are lost in the ocean of light, meticulous details that are results of his elaborate technique. Ivan presented his prolific last couple of years’ work at his previous solo exhibition “Lum” that took place in Paris, in September 2021.
Where are you from? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I’m based in Paris. I was born in the South of France and lived in the area for half of my life. Born and raised to Serbian parents, I also lived for a very short period in Belgrade. There are no artists in my close family, but my parents do love art a lot. Because of that, I was always surrounded by a lot of music, paintings, drawings, photography, and books. As a kid, I would draw everywhere, anytime--every school book would be full of cowboys, I also left frescoes behind my grandparents' couch.
Who or what has compelled and/or encouraged you to create your art?
I’ve been doing it since forever. I would draw anytime, anywhere. Drawing has always been a part of my day--from schoolbook scribbles to architectural drawing during my studies and later teaching. I would paint and draw as a way of creating memories when traveling. Creating is simply the crux of who I am, the way I see the world.
What is the key topic or issue that your work addresses?
I’m fascinated by space and volume. I would say that a lot of that inspiration comes from our natural way of observing the material world, but also from my architectural eye. I am very interested in the way that lines and simple geometric shapes can create new spaces. However, the most important is the light. I particularly like the following that beautifully sums it up: “We find beauty, not in the thing itself but the patterns of shadows, the light, and the darkness, that one thing against another creates.” Light, lines, textures, and volumes are the means and the end of my current art research.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
My greatest source of inspiration is music: baroque and ancient music. The piano works of Philip Glass are a huge conceptual inspiration: he creates repetitive pieces from short themes that are then reused with a slight variation throughout the composition. I find my work similar to his: I reuse the same topic, with slight variations in positions and lines to create a whole that expresses something completely new.
I’m also amazed by Gerard Richter’s early works, figurative but not evidently, blurry, huge, stripped from an obvious meaning, which creates a form of abstraction: you forget the subject. That is precisely what I’ve been searching for in my most recent artworks with hands. I use hands for their expressiveness, graphic potential, and interaction with light, but never impose them as the whole meaning or purpose of the piece.
While working essentially on light, the great master, Caravaggio is the one to always come back to and learn from.
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
I am already doing tons of stuff. Big love for piano led me to become a piano teacher and play every day. Besides, as an architect and illustrator for architecture, I can get pretty technical with all the software and projects. For a very long time, I was also teaching at the School of Architecture in Paris (ESA).