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Kosta Kulundzic: Icons (With BAM!#*)

Kosta Kulundzic
Kosta Kulundzic

The UH M?noa Art Department is hosting a live drawing installation every day except Saturday, through November 22nd.  Artist, Kosta Kulundzic combines religious and European iconography with everyday scenes from the 21st century.  Since moving to Hawai‘i two years ago, Kulundzic has been juxtaposing local and western art imagery with particular ferocity.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.

Kosta Kulundzic
Credit Kosta Kulundzic
Kosta Kulundzic. St. Georges Victorieux. 76.8 x 51.2.

See Kosta Kulundzic drawing live in the UH M?noa Art Department Commons Gallery weekdays through November 22nd, 10am to 4pm and Sundays noon to 4.   Parking is free on Sundays. 

Painter Kosta Kulundzic paints in a cool, flat, representational style, but his imagery puts 21st century people in quasi religious scenes with burning crosses, dragons, Waik?k? Beach for example, with the ocean on fire.  He was brought up in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Kulundzic:  Yes, images are very important in our belief.  That’s why in a way I think my first contact with images was through icons.  The concept of the icon is like a big portrait in front and I think I’m constantly trying to have main characters in my drawings being at the center, at the first position, and I build everything around him.  I have a way of dealing with my images like icons, yes.

Kosta Kulundzic
Credit Kosta Kulundzic
Kosta Kulundzic. Haleiwa's Saint Sebastian. 48 x 36.

How do you choose your central figures, they look kind of like average Americans in a sense, a little crazed perhaps, but..

Kulundzic:  They are.  I love to draw and paint people I know because l think I can get more involved emotionally in the drawing and also give more humanity to the drawing.  It’s people who are my friends, my wife,

Your parents in law, perhaps, aunts, uncles…

Kulundzic:  Oh yes, everyone who is around me finally

Appears in you work.  But Kosta, there they are, in the foreground, a woman playing the piano with a huge grin, in the background a guy bloody with a fork in his head and a knife through his throat, you do this to your relatives?

Kulundzic:  That’s me.  Most of the time, I choose myself to die.  It’s more simple.

What are you saying?

Kulundzic:  I don’t know.  That’s like the biblical theme of Judith who killed the Holofernes to save Jerusalem. She’s

Kosta Kulundzic
Credit Kosta Kulundzic
Kosta Kulundzic. Drawings and studies from the 20 foot installation in progress in the UH Manoa Art Department Commons Gallery.

the symbol of a victory against tyranny.  It’s a classical theme of classical painting. All the great Italians painters have painted Judith, like Caravaggio, Artemisia, and me, I took this story and I tried turn them into today’s stories, like horror movies, like video games.  As she was the first femme fatale in a way, I choose beautiful women and I depict her like today’s femme fatale.

Right, but your perpetrators seem so gleeful, so proud of themselves.

Kosta Kulundzic
Credit Kosta Kulundzic
Kosta Kulundzic. Long shot of the ongoing live drawing installation at the UH M?noa Art Department Commons Gallery thorugh November 22, 2017.

Kulundzic:  Oh yes, they are.  Because in a way, in the classical way of painting, Judith looks totally innocent and pure and I want to show this victory against tyranny, it‘s not something you can do easily.  It’s bloody, it can bring you to madness.  That’s why at the end, they look totally even, happy to commit this murder.  It’s the first step into madness, I don’t know.

Or to freedom?

Kulundzic:  Of course.

Currently Kulundzic is live drawing daily, a 20 foot mythic/contemporary St. George and the Dragon for UH M?noa.  His drafting skill and arsenal of images should make for quite a mash up.

Kosta Kulundzic is represented by Saatchi Art.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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