ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 16] – Joseph Zbukvic

Joseph Zbukvic - To Vienna and Back“Joseph has achieved enormous success with his sensitively rendered watercolours on an incredible variety of subjects.  He is equally comfortable with idyllic pastoral landscape, seascape, a bustling street scene or his latest pursuit, equine art.  He can also turn his hand to oil or pastel, producing work of equally high standard with ease.  He is regarded as one of the best draftsmen in Australia” 1

Joseph’s upcoming exhibition in Red Hill Gallery showcases his stunning paintings from Vienna and other cities around the world.  A master in watercolour his atmospheric renderings accurately depict the mood of these romantic cities.  Whimsically portraying the sensitivity and emotion of his subject matter Joseph will seduce you into another world.  Make sure you visit the gallery to check out his latest body of work in his exhibition ‘To Vienna and Back.’ 

AC:         Your work has recently taken you to Vienna, please describe the city and what you love about it to all our readers who may or may not have visited Vienna. JZ:           It is a lovely elegant city with a calmer feel when compared to Paris or Rome.  One can sense the culture and sophistication behind the classic facades lining its wide boulevards. AC:         Tell us why you were so enamoured with the Fiakers? Your paintings of them in the exhibition are gorgeous and reveal a personal sensitivity and emotion... what do they mean to you?  JZ:            My grandfather worked the land with two Clydesdales and it was my job to feed them in the evening. I developed a lasting affinity with horses ever since. I could feel the same connection the coachmen had with their steeds. The Fiakers also added a gentle touch to a big city, with the calming sound of their hooves in the narrow lanes. They reminded me of Venetian gondolas.

AC:         Your painting “The Royal Eagle Study” is one of the best in the exhibition, and has a long history in Vienna, what motivated you to paint this piece? JZ:           The two headed eagle is the Austrian national symbol found on their flags and currency. This particular statue is on top of the royal palace and I was attracted to its proud profile and opulent golden surface. It is just so quintessentially Viennese.

AC:         You capture the mood and emotion in your subject matter so well... is this something you aim to depict or does it come naturally to you? JZ:           An artist should be a story teller, not a picture maker. I always strive to transport the viewer into the moment rather than the scene itself. It is something most artists try to do and it is not an easy thing to do. There is no formula for it and many painters fall for the trap of banal and pretty when attempting the same. It is a fine line between romance and kitsch.

AC:         Tell us a funny tale from your travels. JZ:          I paint on location so there are numerous funny encounters with inquisitive passersby, who ask such things as; “Are you an artist?”, “What are you painting?”, “Did you do that?”, but one to top them all was a man who asked, “Do you do weddings???”!!! To my amazement I could see he was sincere. He probably equates painting to photography. I recovered quickly and said, “Not many as the guests don't like posing for so long.” He walked off saying, “I can see how you would not get much work...”

AC:         What does your art mean to you? JZ:          Art is my life. I just paint, all else comes after. I see painting subjects all of the time, anytime, anywhere. It's an endless quest for that perfect painting...a calling if you like...I could not live without it...

AC:         What do you hope your art means to your audience? JZ:          I can tell you that one of the best things about my career is when people obviously love the painting and feel the mood I was trying to capture. It gives me an enormous feeling of satisfaction to make them happy, more so than any sales. After all, one can only be a custodian of art, one can never own it. It is there to be enjoyed forever.

AC:         Tell our readers about the first time you became aware of beauty? JZ:          I grew up in a loving environment of an extended family and it was my grandmother who taught me to see the world past the obvious. She was a very spiritual and beautiful person. I hold dear memories of our walks together when she explained the order of universe by simply pointing out the importance of even the smallest things around us. It made me see the world as a magic place.

AC:         Who or what inspired you to first pick up the paintbrush and what age were you? JZ:          She also bought me my first coloured pencils after seeing me draw on anything, with anything!

AC:         Why watercolour? What do you love most about this medium? JZ:          I like its unpredictable quality. It is alive and can never be tamed and it should never be tamed! After using it for 40 years, it still has an ability to surprise me.

AC:         What do you do to relax and unwind? JZ:           I love fixing things. Handy work of any kind. I can spend hours tinkering with something.

AC:         I heard you drive a unique classic; tell us about your relationship with your car? JZ:          It's a 1956 Triumph Roadster, TR3. I have owned it since 1974 and will never tire of driving it. Every time I start that trusty engine and hear that exhaust I feel as if I am 22 again! I love it!1.Zbukvic, Joseph. ‘About the artist’, Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor: The critical ingredients that turn paintings into art. International Artist, Nevada. 2012