Robert Gligorovis an artist previously featured by our beloved Konahrtist in 2011. He has also graced us with his presence in our Top 100 Artists of 2011. With his incredible knack for artistic shock value it was only natural that we’d want to take a peak into this man’s mind and see what makes him tick.
Can you give us a brief introduction? What is your name and background with art?
My name is Robert Gligorov and I was born in the former Yugoslavia, precisely in the Republic of Macedonia but I live in Milano, Italy, for over 20 years. From what I can remember I have always been interested in art, have always been a tireless artist and very interested in everything regarding capacity of the performing body. As a boy I was 10m platform diver agonist and the early relations with the “artistic” world were as an “actor” in various movies, as photographer I made several album covers, as director of several music videos and as cartoonist. All these experiences have enriched me artistically and gradually I found myself doing some real art shows. From 1996 to date I counted more than 280 including solo and collective shows around the world.
What are your biggest influences? Is there any artist you’d like to work with some day?
My major sources of stimulus are all type images. My ideas often depart from images I see, that I pick up around me… my eyes seems calibrated to the frantic search for new images…they are drawn, paintings, photographs, films , graphics or logos. They have an impact of fascination on me. I keep the images that seduce me… it’s like there is something of me inside them… even images created by others. As a child I read comics and cartoonists like Jack Kirby, Alex Tott and many others. I was obsessed with their ability and technique and as a devoted apprentice I have studied their techniques myself to become a professional comic book artist… but there was something inside me , a curiosity and desire to explore beyond the simplicity of graphic design and I discovered artists like Matisse, Piero della Francesca, Bacon and others. Step towards art was inevitable and a new world and thousands of creative possibilities opened up. I was no longer bound by a publisher or record company or any customer, but free to decide every aspect of my work.
It’s unfair to say but in contemporary art the strategy has more weight that the work itself. As if the strategy is a pedestal to be placed in the right context and then lean over the work. Today most of the artists of the past and my time don’t seduce me and don’t make me feel inadequate if I compare my work with theirs. Nowadays I have greater critical awareness of an art work and I realize that every artist has his weak points. There is no unusable work of art. More than working with an artist I’d like to work with a team of boys in which the work is completed, improved by a debate. I think this is very important here to not do something already said but to risk with works that may not have an immediate approval.
What themes are you trying to explore with your work? How much of your work is left for the audience’s interpretation?
Early in my investigation the main theme was the “aesthetics” as an excellent product that is equivalent to a musician who performs. To become an author in the true sense of the word I needed to go beyond the formal aspect and the art, given its many possibilities and combinations of means offered me the chance to say, to tell with a symbol (an image) the content of an idea. Years ago I was very interested in the body, metamorphosis and performance. But given my restless nature I felt the need to expand in other subjects also not to make art repetitive and boring… or rather that making art is not transformed into a work. My fields of research are still the social, the history and especially my protest against the mistreatment and violence suffered by animals. These three aspects are very common in my work and there is nothing better for an artist looking for a strong content of the work with a great formal aspect. The art is in the eyes of the beholder… I do not think that everyone should be informed and educated about my or my colleagues’ art. Also, because a complete documentation of contemporary art is virtually impossible, there is such a huge amount of production of work in the world that would be difficult to classify and explain them. The work of art is not a joke or a one one-shot story… it can be driving for various ages and take its value and content in a second time. I mean, a work created for a reason or an instance of an artist, then can be supported efficiently and stay in time as a true work of art or disappear in a deposit of a gallery. But if a work withstands the test of time and become iconic of an era, then it becomes something else, very different from it was originally conceived. I do not think that Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti had imagined at all what would become some of their works after 500 years, real symbols.
What media do you use to create your pieces? Is there a medium you’ve yet to explore that you are interested in?
Whoever follows me knows I do not have a perfect media. I don’t love photography but I use it often because it’s the best way to document a performance. I do not like videos because I find them all boring but I must admit that even today, they are useful to carry out effectively the idea of a story. I do not like sculpture, but any object that is composed of a readymade or manual intervention is a sculpture. Painting and drawing are my favourite medium, but unfortunately I practice only for fun. I try to escape from the traditional “object of art”, because attitudes and artists of our time are all similar. In short, all shows are all a bit similar to each other and this means that we must lift the level of discourse. My work of art should not look like a work of art, if it does that means that I failed. This is to make the work more universal and in relationship with all the audience and not just the specialized ones.
I have ideas that I want to do but the synthesis is not a smart attitude in a work but the sum of studies and analysis of the subject. What I mean is that to draw well the human body you must know all the bones that make up the skeleton and the human body consists of 206 bones.
Knowledge certainly facilitates the realization of whatever you’re doing this does not mean that a famous writer or an engineer may be brilliant artists. Artist born or made? For me artists are those who take the effort to be so; not necessary for life. Art should be more real than reality and the artist should give this sense of truth. The limit is our audience, the more an artist has communicative skills and more aware of collective psychology, the more his work will be effective. Art has always worked on the ignorance of people. I could give many examples. The artist always addresses his work to the experts and to overcome his ingenuity the artist should exceed certain limits. You should die and be born and die and re born again and again, but this is not possible. you are dead or alive, cannot go back and say it was a work of art, it was a performance, you cannot say “my suicide was a performance.”
How do you feel about artist whose work is intended to shock people such as Marylin Manson, Gaspar Noé or Eli Roth? Would you feel comfortable being compared to them in the sense that you have similar intent toward your audience?
One thing I love to say provocatively is to give a definition of what is art and who is an artist… not easy. As I mentioned in my previous answer, musicians, actors, singers, film directors, designers and writers are not artists .. this is because their work although intriguing is still finalized to a market. A work of art is also direct to a market but to sell it is completely random. Marylin Manson is a thespian, a marketing man, he has moved certain visual impacts limits on his field, the record industry. Very limited and falsely believed transgressive and innovative. There is nothing more middle-class than the rock or punk music. However if some of my works give the feeling of returning to a genre horror, splatter or something like that, it is certainly due to the media that promote more easily the “strong” works, but it is only one aspect of my work and certainly not a style. In avoid a stylistic connotation, I don’t belong to a genre as the three authors cited above.
Why do you choose to create pieces that display “shocking” or “grotesque” images? Do you think that an audience needs to be shocked in order to be stimulated or entertained?
I always realized images that i loved and their content is what i think i am. I do not think I have ever done something to stimulate an echo or a massive reaction. It would be quite easy, just raise the limit of an idea, but this is a pure marketing strategy. If you think I’m an artist with a strong visual impact I’m a little surprised. My goal is to investigate the meaning of things and stubbornly seek beauty and seduction of things. I think that if a work is appreciated is because it has a strong erotic component. In fact, without being naïve I believe that there isn’t a shock image. The definition is wrong, paradoxically the beauty may be in the horror but also after the “fact” happened the horror is not in the film itself, to tell the horror from all points of view. This is simply the classic theme of art called “still life.” The shock is at the moment when the murderess intends to commit the act of killing. When it is committed or when someone observes the consequences ? Perhaps the true horror is before the crime. Perhaps our minds are diseased, infected by a blood thirsty demon. Psychiatry and psychology have tried to explain what lurks in the people’s minds while the artists shows the last act and are hailed as the true provocateur and popularize of horror.
Any funny or weird stories of reactions from your work?
Once I had exhibited in a gallery that had the windows on the street and the door opened and a priest giving a glimpse at the show made the sign of the cross and blessed me.
Fellini used to say he makes films and then the critics explain them to him and this could happen also in the art world; in which critics and audiences make their more or less relevant considerations. I think it’s a mistake to be too exhaustive in the description of your own work. The work must convey the sense of magic and undecipherable mystery. As I create a work I don’t wonder what the viewers expect from it. I’m very pleased with emotions and intellectual stimulations I can provoke, but the more severe judge I have is I. If I didn’t feel that creative exaltation and creative excitement during execution I would not do what I do.
What is your next frontier? Are there any current projects you have been thinking about or any ideas you’d like to explore?
I though when I was younger that I ended up as a film director but in time I do not feel desire to venture into features films, because I love small projects, all made by me, in which I control and manage every aspect of the work. A film is a collective work and I’m a real individualist. In art I have experienced all and I really enjoyed it. I analyzed myself, I frustrated myself I satisfied myself and I met many people of high and low culture. But I’m interested in being a cultural omnivore. I like the weakness of society not only the excellence. I’m a little ashamed to say it but for over 10 years I’m training to become a second class tennis player. I play every day and I have 3 masters. I’d like to become a tennis world champion at the age of 80. This could also be considered an artistic performance; it is a slow technical progress tiring but like all things I’ve done. It is an obsession.
What do you use to create fake blood?
In art , I always tried to be true as true reality and I leave fake blood to filmmakers and commercials. I belong to that kind of artists that if I need fake blood (I swear) I fetch the blood from me and if you want to know more I realized some works with shit, I I had real shit smeared on the canvas to make it uniform with a central commercial logo.. it was an experiment .. same story with blood ..with emotions .. things must always be true .
How far off does an interpretation of your work have to be before you explain it? Do you ever defend the message behind your work?
I must say that I do not understand how a work can be strong compared to another one. I realize if there is a consensus but that happens also for the singers? Maybe a song becomes “Imagine” (by John Lennon). I do not think there is a formula in creating a book, or an object to make it work. While in the commercial sectors there are cages and structural rules, in art what has been said should not been repeated, otherwise what are we talking about? Art as uniqueness. In my work I have the content messages, they are a bit reactionary but I do not mean what is right or wrong. I want to define what reality is for me. I do not invent new worlds but I reveal the apparent invisibility of things. If you notice, just look around and see that every object is and was a source of inspiration for many artists.
In your opinion, what would be the most practical murder weapon?
Definitely and without sarcasm “to fertilize an ovule.” because when you are born you are already doomed. So if you love someone don’t tease that sphere.