Browsing the myriad websites and blogs in search of authentic artistic expression, it’s hard to come across something different, inspirational and profound, at the same time corresponding to the media it’s set in, while retaining the ability to function equally good outside it.
Still, we stumbled upon a very interesting artist, Emir Šehanović Esh, in this very environment, who successfully links the virtual environment to highly tangible, one might even call them ‘art informel’ works. Emir takes long-ago photos as his starting point and proceeds to manipulate them – but not (always) in Photoshop or other such contemporary technology tools, but follows almost classic templates of collage, assemblage, or burning. The result almost evokes Lynch’s esthetic of dark layers of the human subconscious. The subconscious and magical, but above all Bosnian reality, is what forms the basis of and shapes Emir’s work.
Namely, this artist born in Tuzla points out how this particular cultural context inevitably influences his work: “The environment I’m surrounded by, whether I want it to or not, has a great impact on me. I’m surrounded by certain customs, events and people on a daily basis. Some things grate on my nerves, others fascinate me. In any case, I try to use them in the best possible way. When the bad things become acceptable, I start viewing them differently.
Numerous portals worldwide have recognized and published his work, such as the BOOOOOOOM, BLEND or the Beautiful/Decay. The artist himself points out that he doesn’t know how all this came about: “I just know that one day I saw my works on a portal I visit daily. Then a chain reaction followed, and one by one the others started to follow suit and publish my work.”
That which sets him apart from the abundance of artists that also create with the same media outlet in photography is a certain type of unbridled humor and pop-artesque playfulness, on the condition that the photo has to possess a certain type of energy. We asked him how he approached every photo, on what basis he selects them, and if they held a prior meaning to him: “The photographs have to possess the adequate potential for me to work on them. They have to possess the right energy and be convenient for manipulation. They simply have to fit into my story as a whole. Sometimes it’s very hard to find just the right photo, so I have to make do with what I have.”
And his story is to give a whole new meaning to the already existent by way of manipulation, thus transforming the picture. “I see it as solving a problem, finding the simplest and most effective way of transformation. I use the already existent elements by complementing them.”
Actually, we didn’t see Emir’s work online for the first time but this past fall, when it was part of the Museum of Street Art in Dugave project, as a giant kilim mural that “dangled” from one of the buildings. Emir is first and foremost a street artist, and the strategy of manipulating space with street art describes him best: “The street will always be my number one. That’s where I feel the most freedom to be myself. That’s the environment I developed in. The only drawback is that sometimes much-loved works disappear or are botched.”
Emir was shaped within a particular artistic Zeitgeist that doesn’t acknowledge geographical borders, and for which it’s hard to find a common denominator. But Emir tries not to be influenced too much, while still pointing out several role models: “In my earliest development phase I was most influenced by Brazilian street artists, mostly by Os Gemeos. Lately, artists whom I collaborate with have the most impact on my work, e.g. Bruno Pogačnik, Dulait, Sretan Bor, artists from this region for the most part. Their impact refers to the support that I need in moments of crises. It’s hard to survive in an environment where there aren’t any people like you.”
Naturally, Emir isn’t limited to just those media and he sells some of his works at one concept store in Barcelona. We’ve asked him to tell us a little bit more about that and about the life he leads as an artist making a living off his own art.
“Following the big rug in Dugave, a part of the Street Art Museum project, I was invited to Barcelona by Mauro Massaroto and Lafede with the idea of creating a similar kilim at the Studiostore.
I’ve also done a few other things for them. They liked what I did, and I very much appreciate their work as well. I’m very glad to be a part of something like the Studiostore concept store. To be able to live solely off art in this environment, in the current situation; I’d have to change and adjust myself to the buyers. And I don’t want that. Things have started to develop, but it’s still not enough to make a living just from my art.”
In conclusion, Emir explains that this year he’ll be working on creations that are going to be presented in the form of a book. Its title is going to be “We Drink Blood” and it will deal with the topic of black magic. In the meantime, he’s preparing for exhibitions set to take place in Sofia and Belgrade.
We soon hope to see an exhibition in Zagreb as well. Scroll down to see the artist’s gallery. And you can check out his work here.