DIYP: Lena, you were born and grew up in Zagreb. Has moving to Dubrovnik influenced your art, and in what way?
Lena: I think that the moment that I moved was key. At that time many of the characteristics which today describe me and my work were forming, although they are still changing. The effect of surprise, of boundless possibilities and constant change is what makes daily life interesting and challenging.
DIYP: Tell us something about the motif of female characters on all of your pictures. Is that from your daily life and what surrounds you or do they help you to express your inner world?
Lena: All of the above. Female characters have been present from the very beginning and convey the whole picture at first glance. On closer inspection, they are only a working material, creating the atmosphere, carrying information and stimuli from the outside world onto the canvas. They are the projection of my desires, fears and trials. I see them as characters without age or gender. Little girls, women and elderly ladies are present in one and the same character as if they reject or celebrate time and the circle of life.
The personal component here has an important role here since this always: a little me.
DIYP: Could you tell us a little about the colours and techniques of your work which make them so sensitive and alive, so real?
Lena: I think while I paint. The preparation for the work is sketches which are formed round the clock in my head. Once my hand gets hold of my work tools I work quickly and spontaneously, often working on more than one picture at once since I am best able to express myself in that way. I build the pictures in layers, in that way they become similar to my thoughts, the pictures in my head which I cannot describe in words. I give a part of myself in trying to convey the atmosphere which I feel. In my works there are both legible places, symbols, elements from the real environment but also ones that are less easy to understand. All of these create a collage of emotions, states and words. Collage is an artistic technique which is part of my work, as is drawing which is the starting and finishing point of everything.
DIYP: You have held many exhibitions in Dubrovnik. Do you have a favourite space which your art works best in?
Lena: Ideas and possibilities for exhibitions occur to me together with the creation of my works. The whole process is somehow natural and spontaneous, so that a part of a period of my life is reciprocated with a cycle of pictures from that time which always fits into the exhibition space in a new way. All the spaces I have exhibited in have a special story and meaning for me; but each of them would have a new and different meaning today.
DIYP: Is there a place in Dubrovnik which particularly inspires you, where you like to go to gather and renew your energy?
Lena: The whole of Dubrovnik is inspiring. I especially love the Old City where I am currently working and living with my family. If I need to gather more energy still there are many places in Dubrovnik and its surroundings, but my favourite, and the closest, is the island of Lokrum because of all the greenery.
DIYP: You have two little girls. Where in Dubrovnik do you most like to spend time with them?
Lena: We enjoy our everyday lives in the heart of the Old City. We like to spend days off in nature: in the summer swimming or on the islands, and for the rest of the year walking or taking trips outside of the city… in all directions.
DIYP: What would you say a tourist in the city must try or take home as a souvenir?
Lena: Oh, where should I start? The first thing that occurs to me are the various delicacies which are unique to this region, for example home-made rakijas and wine. Many people and families have started to make authentic local souvenirs, and at last lovely shops are opening up which can compete with the ones selling tourist tat. Sometimes a seemingly meaningless object can tell a very personal story and become an invaluable souvenir from your travels.
DIYP: Is it possible to buy your work somewhere in Dubrovnik? If so, where and how?
Lena: I would mention first and foremost the Sveti Luka gallery and its manager Boris Kurilić, who has been supporting me and my work from my very first day in Dubrovnik. You can also buy my works in other galleries (for example Klarisa, Talir, Luna+sol/Heritage Gallery). You can also view my paintings in the Prijeko Palace; I used to have an atelier there before the palace was renovated.
Anyone who is interested can call me personally; that always makes me happy. It’s personal confirmation of the value of my work, and it’s always a particular pleasure to get to know someone who likes and supports my work. In those conversations which I find invaluably stimulating I hear new, individual interpretations of my pictures, and through my story which is created as people seek interpretation of some of my work I often discover something new about myself and my environment without which my work would not be possible.