The end of the world is here, as told through the bizarre and dystopian eye of Matija Bobičić
The Slavic artist has utilised his medium to tell stories of post-pandemic society – one that's responded with panic buying and acts of barbarianism.
- Ayla Angelos
- 28 September 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Matija Bobičić’s paintings have a childish charm about them. Naive but equally considered, the Slavic artist wants you to observe his creations just like you would a piece of art made by an 11 year old, “something that would get a B- in primary school,” he tells It’s Nice That.
The Maribor-born artist, like many, drew from an early age. He distinctively recalls the time when he used to copy the cartoons that he saw on television, making cutouts to create his own toys. “I was really fascinated with science fiction cartoons from the 80s,” he says. “They had everything from space cowboys to cyborg barbarians, and those ideas inspired me to design my own characters and invent my own mythology.” This mythology – that which gravitates around childish play and strange, otherworldly characters – has been revived throughout his recent works, whereby the artist has started to illustrate what he would have created at the ripe age of 13 after seeing his first large-scale Picasso painting.
Picasso’s work has been very much a key driver throughout the process of defining Matija’s own style, one that was derived after he finished college. “As a professor of art education,” he continues, “I was fascinated by the works that students made in primary school – their way of expressing themselves and how free they were when they were making art; I really wanted to make something like that myself.” As a result, he created an aesthetic built around “morbidly cheerful celebrations of the childhood days that are forever gone,” he says, paintings that are “stupid but interesting, awkward, imaginative and full of inner conflict.”
With acrylics as his tool of choice (for the reasoning that it dries fast), Matija paints quickly and with great intention. It’s often that he will commence the process with an idea in mind, for him to quickly change the subject matter entirely – a spontaneous and willing methodology that allows him to create with utmost freedom, and one that never involves a pre-determined sketch. “I somehow know when to stop working and give the work a title in relation to what I see in the end,” he says, viewing the process as more playful and improvised, rather that one that’s highly thought out. What’s more is that Matija is a keen advocate for texture and making the colours “pop”, which means that one solo piece tends to have eight layers of paint already pinned upon it before he starts the work itself.
“I have been painting creatures and monsters with shopping bags lately,” he goes on to explain of his recent subject matter. Predominately inspired by the aesthetic behind science fiction films and cartoons, it’s no wonder that his recent paintings are riddled with bizarre, dystopian characters. Titled Corona Shoppers (for now), the series is a mirror to the current global crisis, with quintessentially urban Lidl and Decathlon shopping bags included: “In the beginning of the pandemic, people were fighting for goods in shopping malls, similar as to the science fiction characters from the 80s that were always fighting for some resource,” he says. As such, these “so-called corona shoppers” are presented as barbarians, who are “extremely hostile entities”, not too dissimilar from the creature in the Alien franchise for its one sole purpose of survival. As for Matija’s characters, these aliens similarly have no empathy nor morality, which he compares to those responded to the pandemic in utter selfishness – those who have “completely forgot about solidarity” (rewind to the flash flood of panic buyers hoarding loo roll as an example).
Comparing the current, rapidly changing world to some sort of apocalypse, Matija sees his paintings as a reflection of just that. “People have started to group into tribes with their own points of view of the world, and some have become very hostile towards others – it’s like something out of a Mad Max movie.” So perhaps we can learn a little from his work, that the world doesn’t have to replicate that of a science fiction, end-of-the-world film? But if we didn’t have some kind of chaos, then Matija might be out of a subject matter.
Majita Bobičić: The Sentinel, 60 x 50cm, 2020 (Copyright © Majita Bobičić)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and continued to work with us on a freelance basis. From November 2019 she joined the team again, working with us as a Staff Writer on Mondays and Tuesdays until August 2020.