Boris Stapic – Sarajevo based artist, famous for his comic adapts and book illustrations is always looking for new ways of expressions by being on the crossover of illustration, comics, digital art and street art. We talked with Boris about his art, Sarajevo and the street art scene.
- Hi Boris! You live and work in Sarajevo and as muralist, you engage quite a bit with the built environment of your city. Please tell us about art in Sarajevo and about your creations in particular.
As a muralist I’m quite a newcomer since my work so far was mostly related to various other visual art fields like graphic design, illustration, concept art & motion graphic design etc.. For every new generation of graffiti artist since war in BiH it is a very similar path starting in mostly DIY circumstances with limited access to usually expensive paints and other materials. Working on community art related projects as kind of unofficial curator for the art exhibition held as a part of a public action related of reopening of National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015. mostly trough social medias I got in contact with a lot of artists based in Sarajevo. With Mensur Demir architect and graffiti artist who already had an experience in a medium I kind of clicked and decided that we will work together as soon as possible so with the next summer of 2017. we did two pieces as a part of Festival of Street Art Sarajevo. He assisted to me on a piece dedicated to Karim and I assisted him on his piece called Euroboros in nearby Radićeva street.
- What´s the best place for art in town?
Exhibition places like Duplex100m2 gallery hosted by Pierre Courtin or Galerija Brodac hosted by Mak Hubjer. Both are small independent places for artists. Also a small caffe Boris Smoje maintains exhibitions of photographs, drawings and paintings and it is a good staring point for a night out.
“Euroboros” by Mensur Demir and Boris Stapic
- Recently you have created a wall in Sarajevo dedicated to Karim Zaimovic. Can you tell us more about this work?
Karim Zaimović was a writer, journalist and publicist with enormous knowledge on many different topics from comics, art to literature and film. He was a professional journalist since the age of 15 and was killed in the last days of the siege of Sarajevo in August of 1995. in the age of 24. His collection of short stories The Secrets of Raspberry Jam is still a cult classic book among young generations. These stories were read as a radio play pieces during wartime by Karim himself. That was a proper way to pay a tribute to his life and work. I briefly met him during the war in the redaction of the “Days” magazine where he was one of the contributors as an art high-school kid regarding comic collaboration on a literature fanzine that he planed to publish with a Semezdin Mehmedinović also a journalist and a poet called Phantom of Liberty. That unfortunately never happened. Most of his writings are inseparable from Sarajevo which for him was a metaphor of all the flaws and hopes of past, present and future in human civilization. Since I already finished a comic adaptation of his short story Invisible man of Sarajevo with Aleksandar Saša Brezar writer and journalist and in consultation with Karim’s sister Lajla we agreed to do a motif from a comic as Karim was also in it as a narrator.
- How does the public react to Street Art in Sarajevo and which experience did you have with your piece?
Mostly positive. We had good experience with David Bowie wall done by Enis Čišić & teamBowie crew, a large piece that sparkled a lot of interests that year. The wall itself is very close to the park in which are situated sculptures of Davorin Popović and Mirza Kinđe Delibašić, a legendary singer and a basketball player from Sarajevo, so that corner was the right place to do it. There were few touchy moments on Karim’s wall that are dear memory to me. As Mensur and I were finishing the wall I sat on a pavement across the street and young mother came with her daughter of maybe 5 years old and started explaining all the things about Karim and decoding the wall pointing to the raspberries and describing that there is a great secret in them. During those couple of nights one young homeless boy who slept in fast-food stand across the street, Meša, was taking care of our paints and materials so we also signed him on a wall. In our break we taught him to draw. On our last day on the wall I had a split exhibition of Raspberry Jam comic art panels with Enis Čišić who adapted one story with Saša Brezar also, on opening of Bookstan book fair. I was quite tired, dirty and not in the mood. Surprisingly young writer and author Lejla Kalamujić read a short story on opening ceremony dedicated to Karim, Saša, me and Enis and the whole thing suddenly made a sense and worth an effort, the way Lejla and some people perceived the whole thing on a very intimate level. Of course there were also critiques but those were from some obscure ideological standpoints.
- As a multi-talented artist you seem to engage your skills on many fields. From Urban Art to Art Direction and even development of online games. Is there one, which you would consider your main passion in which you are putting your signature? Or do you weave this worlds into each other?
It comes with project. You feel when it is proper to sign it as something worthy as an author since some of them are strictly commercial and initially tend to be more driven from the client but even in those cases you sometimes manage to articulate and deliver your specific approach for solving the problem. As an art director my approach to people with whom I work is to be supportive for they creative solutions and not to mold them into mine expectations but to deliver proper insights of the things we’re dealing. It’s mostly non hierarchical. Since I grow up on comics and illustrations that is the first passion of mine that I wanted to do more in the future.
- What would be your dream spot in the world to paint on?
Anywhere really. On remote places, in big post industrial environments, small old houses by the seacoast or in crowded streets. In our today’s rigidly controlled society with dystopian tendencies we perceive urban art as a poetic medium, a dream well grounded in the physical material that can be more trusted unlike fake virtual representations of “truths” whom we are bombarded trough the medias.
- And what would you paint?
A big domestic cat stalking a tiny guy 🙂 . Everyday I had different picture in my head. It depends on a context of the place. It’s history, heritage, what picture would be meaningful for the people and how they gonna adopt it as their own everyday experience. If those criteria fails as inspiration you can always go with a big domestic cat stalking a tiny guy.
Comic adaption of “Invisible man from Sarajevo”
- You are famous for your book & cover illustrations. Therefore: what´s your absolute-must reading recommendation at the moment?
Couple of last books that I did covers for like Paul Beatty’s novel The Sellout, Hanif Kureishi’s short prose Nothing. I’m the child of the 80’s so the list will included a lot of SF, works of Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonegut, Terry Pratchett but also Julian Barnes, Neil Gaiman, Robert M. Pirsig, Erlend Loe… and a bunch of comics.