"Portrait Fragment" Series, "La Payasa"

"Urban Fairy Tales" Series, "Power Struggle"

"Of Bones and Redemption" Series, "Mass Grave 77, Rain"

Nela Steric

Artist Statement

"Portrait Fragment" Series
In "Portrait Fragment" Series, I use elements of art, mostly values and color washes and a variety of painting "tempers" to depict more than a person’s visible features. While I am painting and "building" a fragment of a portrait, I am slowly growing in my awareness and understanding of the person’s psychological, emotional or spiritual attributes. One can call it "a palm reading"types of analysis.
It also requires my own difficult and fully emotionalintrospection about my own feelings towards the person I portray, whether it is someone else or my own self-portrait. With the colors, the texture, and the amount
of remaining realistic elements of the face, I  represent my sense of each person’s secret fears, ambitions, loves, and good and bad personality traits.

"Beautiful Bones Diary" Series
The “BBD" Series are nostalgic set of memories of soldiers who died defending the country, or a snapshot of contemporary unrests, and their aggressive energies. The patriotism can be a very powerful emotion, and I explore it though the depictions of fallen soldiers.
There is no higher sacrifice (besides parent-to child) then the sacrifice for one's country's safety and defense. However, I do question patriotism through my presentation of those fallen soldiers, or through other visual forms or images. Everything in this series have two sides, two meanings, and therefore, enough content to question the whole idea, whichever side the viewer belongs.

"Of Bones and Redemption" Series
"Bones": a symbol of death. The final outcome; the final peace. Even so, genocides that have occurred in history can bring mass graves and bodies covered up badly on the ground, left to rot in the chaos. However, they are now at peace; now without any defined features, ethnicities, culture, religion, or nationality. Whatever they stood for and whoever they were while living is different now. Their victimhood is now soundless, part of the ground, but not without a voice. Their broken skulls are now sculptures, telling their story in a different, elevated way. They are now whispering their truth even stronger, and the terrible facts about their executioners. Their motionless horror can bring aesthetics, emotion, and absurdity all in one view.
"Redemption": the acceptance that we are all victims and we are all executioners. We can fall victims as easily as we can commit atrocities; all in the name of falling into a toxic collective mindset. It is simply human nature to feed into collective ideas and always repeat history. However, what bothers me is that often in wars, some perpetrators walk free and sometimes an entire nation protects the ideas and individuals that murdered so many.
No individual or a nation should be the "high judge" and turn a blind eye to their genocidal roots. In this collection of self-search, I am combining the aesthetics, emotion, and absurdity of genocidal wars through these views of mass graves. Using visual elements and colors rather than specific religious or other symbols, flags, or languages,
I want to achieve aesthetic beauty and greater meaning. With my compositional elements, space, forms and colors in brush action, I want to produce emotion. Through the emotions that are presented, I am recognizing and visually presenting my own shortcomings, my own, as-I-call-them - "genocidal roots" as I accept, rather than deny, the mass graves perpetrated by my former nation not so long ago. The absurdity of mass murders is in the paintings themselves. I bring out the most absurd elements through my artistic interpretations of real and documented mass grave sites.

I recognize and celebrate absurdity in my attempt to match visual elements that tell a small part of those ageless horrific stories.