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A Strawberry under Lockdown: Tijana Petrovic on Human Splendour and Vulnerability
A strawberry, beautiful and breakable, is seen in seemingly cold white and blue interior spaces in the art of London-based artist Tijana Petrovic. Its reappearance makes you wonder what it might stand for. We see it on a bed, by the window, on a chair, in water, near something of an architectural maze. It seems like a human, either absorbed in the self or navigating environments that are too bland and inanimate to respond to its organic needs. At times, it is suspended in a heavy, tedious and endless present—between a comfortable past and unknowable future.
Tijana elaborates on the paintings she made during lockdown: “The reoccurring motif of a strawberry often represents a figure and has a meaning grounded in personal experience. However, its characteristics could be symbolic on a general level. A strawberry’s colour is vibrant, its shape is voluptuous, smell strong and alluring, taste appealing, yet it is soft, easily damaged and deteriorates faster than most other fruit – therefore it is delicate and short-lived. Strawberries are exposed – their seeds are visible and their attractiveness is tempting which makes them vulnerable. I relate those qualities with the notions of time-passing, fragility of life, short-lived nature of beauty and youth, and vulnerabilities of minds and bodies.”
In her work overall, Tijana explore the themes of inhibitions, vulnerabilities and complex emotional states such as nostalgia with an aim to cope with the anxieties related to everyday life. She aims to turn the negative or mundane into something positive—aesthetically pleasing or comical—and break the boundaries of the uncomfortable by enabling discussion on difficult topics in a light-hearted way.
Through her newest series of paintings (“Summer Vibes”, “Clearance”, “Goodbye”, “From My Perspective”, “Going South”), she deals with notions of nostalgia for carefree times, even more emphasised due to the pandemic. The playful scenes she depicts are overshadowed by an ominous or strange atmosphere alluding to the difficulties in everyday adult lives and relatable to the challenging times we are living in.
Tijana was born in 1990 in Croatia. She obtained an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins. She was awarded with the Mona Hatoum bursary while studying at the University of the Arts London. She won the Tim May Memorial Prize and she was shortlisted for the Holly Bush Emerging Woman Painter Prize, the Sunny Art Prize and the Visual Art Open prize. Her works are a part of private collections in the UK, Republic of China and Croatia. Tijana recently exhibited in the Saatchi gallery as a part of the ‘London Grads Now’ exhibition and in the Mall Galleries as a part of the ‘Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition’.
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