Name: Momčilo Moma Bjeković
Where do you live: Belgrade, Serbia
I’m not that known, but my paintings are. Sometimes it happens to me that people tell me about my own paintings, but without knowing that they are my works. Luckily, they choose very nice words when they talk about them.
Currently working with:
My closest associate is my wife who is working with the marketing of my work – she has fantastic taste and because of that, she’s able to give me valuable suggestions for corrections in my work. Also, my psychotherapist is yet another very important associate of mine, following my work for years and at times giving me great advice on it.
Along with painting, lately I’ve started to write about what I do, in order to better understand my own style of work. This has enhanced and improved my work tremendously.
When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
Ever since I was a child I’ve always been fascinated by drawing, but I never thought of it as being a profession. If I had understood myself better back then, I could have realized that this is to be my path. I came to understand that later on, when I passed the entrance exam at the Academy of Arts.
If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I currently live in Belgrade and wouldn’t change that. I hope that I won’t have to go look for a better life somewhere else. As a native Saraljija (a name for anyone born in Sarajevo), I was completely amazed by Belgrade the very first time I got here. As for most people, including myself, the West is attractive because of the higher living standards, but I’m tightly linked to Belgrade because of people that I love. I think that finding real friends is the most difficult thing in life.
How would you describe your creativity?
I would describe my creativity as a game of madness and knowledge, which is shifting between patience and inner turmoil. Madness must always be defeated, and the discomfort must be overcome – which isn’t always that easy.
How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
Although I work with painting for 15 years now, I would call myself a serious painter and artist the past few years, not before that. I spent a long time experimenting, which served as a kind of learning through play. It all seemed very frivolous, but this phase turned out to a pretty good final result. For the past few years, I have been able to make a living from my work. Recently, I’ve started to see painting as a profession and business. I’ve managed all of that pretty well because people have accepted me just the way I am. I didn’t have to change my style because of money and this is something of which I am very proud.
What do you do at the moment?
I’m currently working on a small series of paintings sharing one idea, one concept – I paint colorful electrical guitars. The interesting part to me is the connection between and blending of sound and color in the paintings.
In addition, I work with organizing solo exhibitions in Belgrade. I cooperate with my wife, as we look for sponsors, preparing marketing materials and catalogs, creating guest lists….
A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
There’s a saying going; “working with the arts is a profession reserved to rich people”. On the contrary, I think that everyone who has a talent and wants to work has to walk this path and simply go for it. Of course, in that case, the road might be a little bit more difficult, but I think that anyone can reach their goals.
Tell us how it all started.
My sister Bojana studied at the Art Academy. At one point, she showed my amateur work to her professor. Her professor said that I am very talented and that inspired me to try to realize that talent. So I enrolled to a program at the Art Academy and successfully completed it.
What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
To me, the most important thing is to make sure that I’ve got all of the materials I need. There has been times when I barely had access to all materials which I needed, including the most basic things such as colors, canvases and brushes. I also think that great company is fantastic when I work, and therefore I paint in my apartment. I don’t like to be alone in my studio as I work. I’m always asking whoever is there with me if they like what’s happening in the picture.
What is your favorite film?
My favorite movie is “21 Grams” by the film director Alejandro González, I love most of his movies. He speaks beautifully about the ugly side of existence. I think that sharing the stories with others, of bad things in life in troubled times, makes everything a little bit easier.
Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
I would invite Sylvester Stallone for a dinner. A few days ago I realized that Stallone has been painting for over 35 years. He had a huge solo exhibition in Russia. The man who, to me, seemed not that interesting turned out to be the opposite in a heartbeat. Well, not in a heartbeat, the man has been doing this for over 35 years, but I had absolutely no idea until very recently.
How do you like to spoil yourself?
That would be the time off which I spend together with my wife and good friends, when we all trying to create a great atmosphere, when we love, when we speak about the world around us, when we forget about all responsibilities.
What is luxury for you?
For me, luxury is when you are free to do whatever you want. I have succeeded in this respect, because what I do today is what I’ve always wanted to do.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
I received the nicest compliment from Professor Misko Suvakovic, as we had a private conversation and he hold me that I am a brilliant artist. He told me this in a time when I was still doubting myself.
What do you fear most?
I fear drug addiction. I’ve had very painful personal experience with it. Many of my friends have also paid a high price for the sake of drugs. I beat addiction many years ago, but I will never forget the horrors of that world.
What is a happy life to you?
Happiness is what all people should share with each other, because you cannot always be happy by yourself. At times, I wait for someone else to make me happy. Likewise, I try to bring joy to other people as well. I hope that I’m making that happen in the best way possible with my paintings.
What does a regular day look like for you?
I have created my life in a way where I don’t have to get up early in the morning, so that I can do everything I need slowly and without any hurry. I want to make the most of every single day. Hardly any day goes by without a couple of hours of painting. I am so attached to the space and place of my work and life. It seems to me as though at times, I wouldn’t want to get out of here for days, if I didn’t have to take my two dogs Maks and Bruto for walks. The usual evenings, when I watch movies with my wife Valentina are my absolute favorite time of the day.
Tell us about your dream project.
I’m currently working on my dream project. I dreamed an achievable dream which was to make a living from my art, regardless of living in the poor country of Serbia where hardly anyone has money left to buy paintings. It may appear very modest, and it can also appear to be megalomania.
Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
When I was still learning I had a lot of different role models, both painters and artists from other fields of art. But, somehow, as I understood myself more, I became my own role model. I look back at what I did yesterday, observing what I do today, with the intention to predict what I need to do tomorrow.
How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
I would call my style eclectic painting.
Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the beauty of the idea which I want to portray, and also my audience as well as the process of creating itself. Luckily, I always have enough inspiration. I feel sad for the artists who suffer from a lack of inspiration.
A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
My favorite book is “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. I can’t really say that it changed me, but it contributed to me becoming who I am today. I think that Milan Kundera is an exceptional writer.