From religious iconography to popular culture and art movements such as Primitivism, Surrealism, and Cubism, Serbian artist Djordje Ozbolt draws from a myriad of sources to create his often humorous paintings, sculptures, and installations.Read More
Initially studying architecture at the University of Belgrade in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ozbolt relocated to London to receive a BA in Fine Art from Slade School of Fine Art (2000) and an MA in Painting from the Royal Academy Schools (2006). Developing an eclectic iconography, the artist said in a 2017 interview with Ocula Magazine that 'My inspiration comes from a vast variety of things, places, images, thoughts and regrets. So, I think it is more appropriate to approach works fresh and not connected with solid theories or a continuity of style.'
Ozbolt's light-hearted, surreal, and sometimes grotesque scenes are created by blending elements from historical paintings with popular culture. A wide-eyed monk has his round mouth filled with cigarettes in Padre Gio Performing a Miracle (2006)—a circular canvas—while Disney-style cartoon birds stretch Benjamin Franklin's cheeks to an abnormal length in Smile Benjamin, Smile (2016). At his solo exhibition Greetings From A Far Away at Gallery Baton, Seoul (2019), Ozbolt presents new fanciful paintings, such as of a dog gazing into a mirror, its facial features replaced by a human face, in Who's a Good Boy, and a yellow puffer fish hovering above a grey seascape in Plain Sailing.
Ozbolt also frequently references early modern avantgarde artists and sources of their inspiration in his work. The painting Remains of a Night (2017), for example, recalls Henri Matisse' interior scenes with its patterned wallpapers and plant, while the two angular figurines perhaps allude to the French artist's interest in Primitivism. Echoing Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Ozbolt creates elongated forms reminiscent of African wooden figures in cast resin sculptures such as Mr Dizzy and Mr Daydream (both 2017), which appeared at his solo presentation Lost and Found at Gallery Baton in 2017. In his interview with Ocula Magazine that year, the artist said that 'it is more a comment on that borrowing with cultural borrowing, there was always "borrowing" of resources and land. ... I think my work is trying to question all of that and the whole postcolonial discourse in some way.'
Though known for his sense of humour, Ozbolt addresses more serious, contemporary concerns in his works. His solo show Brave New World at Hauser & Wirth Somerset (2017) included more than 70 human and animal figurines on a table, all facing large wall paintings of a jungle— the world's inhabitants contemplating their uncertain future. The artist also employed gnome figurines throughout the gallery, creating Marauders (2016): an installation of resin gnomes who enter the space from the garden. Smuggled in from Serbia, the gnomes could be seen as a metaphor for refugees.
Ozbolt represented Serbia at the 58th Venice Biennale, exhibiting a mural, paintings, and sculptures to examine personal and collective memory and commemoration. Other solo exhibitions include The Grand Detour, Holburne Museum, Bath (2016); More paintings about poets and food, Hauser & Wirth, New York (2015); and Mens Sana in Corpore Sano, Herald St, London (2014). The artist's work has also appeared in group exhibitions at many international institutions and galleries, among them Modern Art, London (2014), and Contemporary Art Museum St Louis (2012).
Biography by Ocula | 2019