Mihael completed his Bachelor and Master studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, and then went on to do his postgraduate studies at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Paris.
Although we have today chosen mainly his paintings, his artistic works include sculptures, photographs, installations and video works.
His works are found in numerous international collections, including the following: The Ludwig Museum, Vienna, the Solo collection, Madrid, the SIEMENS collection, Vienna, the Esterhazy collection, Eisenstadt, the Azark collection, Marrakech, the Museum of Industry and Fine Arts, Saint Etienne.
When did you decide to take up art?
From an early age, art was all around me. In the family home in 9 Tolstoy Street, which does not exist today, I grew up surrounded by the works of my grandfather and played in my parents’ studio. Above all, art for me was of a game and a way to represent myself and understand the world. I think that as such there was no decision.
What does it mean for you to be a successful artist?
First of all, it means great personal happiness and satisfaction, not to say self-satisfaction, because the sweetest thing for an artist is to engage in constant self-realization and discovery of themselves, in their own development and progress. Success or happiness also means managing to transcend art, making it understandable to others and for it to influence other people, as well as reality, indirectly. Another great achievement is when an artist during his life succeeds in finding “participants” in other artists, indirectly through their work.
In your opinion, what is the most important cultural event that has been held in Belgrade?
There have been many events as there have been categories. I think that with regard to professionalism and marketing, theatre and music events are in the lead, such as BITEF. As for art, a decade ago it was the October Salon, which is no longer.
When and where was your first exhibition?
My first exhibition I think was at Gallery 73 back in 1985 and the topic was “Freedom and Creativity”. I got a prize, and as an eighteen-year old I remember getting some very confused and strange looks. My first solo exhibition was in the gallery of Fine Arts in 1991 as a fourth-year student of painting, which was back then unheard of and daring. Some professors who are active today have never forgiven me.
And last exhibition?
At the Margo Milin gallery in Paris, in October last year.
Can you tell us a little more about it?
Every exhibition makes a particular statement – the sum of thoughts and experiences. I think that it is thankless to recount art, it should be felt, seen, to be near. You should visit exhibitions and if you know the artist, visit their studio.
Which artist would you like to meet?
There are more whom I would not like to meet so as not to be disappointed. I would definitely like to meet Neo Rauh. Over the years, I have met the big names of contemporary art, such as Georg Baselitz, Ilya Kabakov, Robert Gormlija, Pistoleta, Opalka, Oppenheim, etc. All of them characterized by great humanity.
Who were your role models in the beginning?
I probably looked up to Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dürer. When it comes to grandeur and spirit, they were definitely my first role models. I was always appalled by the one-mind-set of artist and pigeonholed idiots. The core understanding of art is found least in art per se.
What can’t you imagine your studio without?
A whole load of useless things that create the ambience.
What advice would you give to your colleagues at the beginning of their careers?
Perseverance, tremendous work, faith in yourself and a lot of patience. Luck is part of the cocktail that follows those who are courageous and who dare, but not those who are lazy and only interested in fame.
If you were the minister of culture, what would you do first?
I would make changes in the law, of course, in order to create favorable ground for investment in the field of art, through foundations, collections, the purchase of art, projects, etc. National cultural institutions would be put on their feet, but I would not expect that they devise strategies for the future. The future of art in Serbia lies in the presence and visibility of our artists, primarily on the European scene, their global recognition and the raising of transparency in the art market. Without this, the art scene cannot realistically function or exist, but remain as a phenomenon only.
Can you recommend a film about an artist?
I would first recommend films by artists, and there are many.
Which museum did you visit last?
The Byzantine Museum in Athens.
What grabbed your interest?
I was most impressed by just how modern man, as well as modern man – the creator, has been desacralized compared to his colleagues from the eleventh or twelfth century, and this unnatural state is the source of a large number of problems.
What sculpture in a public space would you recommend that we see?
I like the public sculptures of Claes Oldenburg and Robert Gormlija – wherever they are.
You have exhibited around the world. In your opinion, what city has the most exciting art scene?
There are cities that I have not yet visited where the scene is fantastic, cities such as Shanghai and Tokyo are among those that I’ve not yet seen. I think Ouagadougou and Tehran are exciting places, although there is very little is known about them.
Which galleries do you work with?
I worked with the Piece Unique Gallery in Paris, the Georges Verney-Carron Gallery in Lion, Guy Bartschi in Geneva, Changing Role in Napoli, Ernest Hilger in Vienna, the Voice Gallery in Marrakech, the Espace Sol Gallery in Seoul, and many others. At the moment, I’m working with a couple of galleries in Europe and around the world, especially institutions and public collections.
What was the last book you read?
I haven’t read it yet – “The Morning of the Magicians” by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier.
Film or theatre?
Both. I like to go and see my friend Sergej Trifunović on stage, especially when I have the privilege to see the rehearsals. When it comes to films, I reminisce about films when I was 12-13 years old because those moving images had a great impact on me as an artist.
Your grandfather, Milo Milunović, was a famous Serbian artist. Is there any work of his that is particularly dear to you?
My favourite ones are those that are the smallest, those that emerged as notes on the perimeter of newspapers. They are true pearls because there is no pretentiousness, only unspoiled and concise emotion. Those who know what I’m talking about, will understand.
Do you have a favourite piece of work?
The one I’m working on.
What are you working on at the moment?
My favourite piece. 🙂
Are you planning an exhibition?
Yes, although I try to have a normal rhythm. New productions primarily require time commitment.
For more information about Mihael and his art, please visit his website: www.mihaelmilunovic.com
Translation: Grainne Boyle Orlić