Sinisa Kukec transforms found objects and trash into enthralling, sinisterly beautiful installations. The enigmatic whiskey-drinking artist tells us about getting kicked out of Charleston bars, Peter Voulkas’ arse, and why his eastern European blood means his art is made for glass-half-empty types.
How would you describe the art of Sinisa Kukec?
A few years back I would have describe my work as a journey into the human phenomenon of desire. Recently I have described it as a cosmic psychedelic melodrama; perhaps it could be best described as an attempt to unpack consciousness…
At first glance your art looks very happy and positive. Is there a darker side to it?
There is light/positive and darkness/negative at play in the universe, as in my work , as in my life. I often don’t separate the them – my work and my being, that is – others do that for me. But yes, I would say that I have misanthropic tendencies, and I am a reflection of the world that surrounds me. I would say that at first glance you might perceive happy or positive but for those that are afflicted with curiosity and intelligence you might see a darker side to it.
How does your heritage and your experiences of various cultures influence your art?
I am eastern European and so you might say that being a pessimist is in my blood. I can love and hate all in the same breath. Some people tire of my glass-half-empty perception, others come to love my honest, emotional, passionate expression. But really I am the one that has to put up with me… It can be a daunting task.
Please share some of your career highlights with us?
I never really think about my work as a career. I like to think about it as a lifetime and after 42 years, I feel it’s just begun.
Your art is aesthetically beautiful but also powerful in content. Is there one aspect that takes precedence over the other?
“Beauty” can be perceived in so many ways! Define beauty for yourself and if you are willing to think about what it truly means to you, and not just believing in a definition provided to you. One does not take precedence over the other. Aesthetic beauty and content go hand in hand, and that’s why I make most of my own work rather than having some one else make it. I am not an intellectual, rather I am a perpetual student that is willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
You just had an exhibition in Charleston, South Caroline. Please tell us more about the show?
Imagine a contemporary art show in that city titled “From Void to Void”, which was a sequel to a solo show I had last fall at Scope Miami “FAREWELLFOUTAIN”. Charleston is also known as the Sexy City. I ate some great food, drank whiskey and was thrown out of a bar for smashing two glasses while describing colliding atoms and the universe. It was great!
What is the weirdest experience you ever had as an artist?
It could have been when I insulted a very well-known ceramics dealer at his own home at the center of the universe (aka New York). Or perhaps a moonlit night in Colorado running towards a herd of caribou with nothing on but my boots… OK, it was when I was assisting the greatest ceramic abstract expressionist ever, Peter Voulkos. I accidentally saw his naked ass. But honestly I can’t recall. Truth can be stranger than fiction.
Words: Heike Dempster