Zvonimir Matich is a Barcelona-based artist. His use of stucco (a type of plaster) is an original and wonderfully unusual technique, seldom practised in the painting world. Zvonimir is an artist with itchy feet who’s always looking for ways to keep learning and find new ways to express his feelings and experiences.
As a result, despite his long and successful career, he is still passionate about travelling and exploring foreign places by means of cultural exchanges. In fact, he’s one of the artists that makes up the dothegap community!
Zvonimir has kindly answered series of questions in a conversation we had with him about his artistic techniques, why travel has been so important throughout his life and what you could gain from organising a cultural exchange with him. Here’s the interview!
Before we get started, let’s get to know you a little better: tell us a bit about the artistic techniques you use in your work.
I use a mixed media-based technique. I press powdered pigments into freshly laid stucco using different utensils such as spatulas and sponges, which is mounted on a canvas. I continue to apply several layers of stucco when the previous one is dry and after adding colour. Then, depending on my idea and the final image I’m aiming to create, I start removing and adding areas of stucco, using a technique called sgraffito to uncover certain areas, or adding more pigment.
Most of the trips and exchanges you go on are focused around your work. What do you take from these experiences as an artist? And how about on a personal level?
Speaking as an artist and as a tourist (I’m never just one persona or the other) every location has the potential to introduce you to new influences both on an aesthetic and an emotional level. Having those new experiences enriches and refreshes your mind, which makes room for ideas that are maybe more interesting that the norm.
When did you first have the idea that travel could help you continue to grow as an artist?
I took a History of Art course at the Jesuit college I attended in Zaragoza, which exposed me to a huge amount of culture that I would only be able to access by visiting new places. I wanted to explore the world and this dream only really became a reality when I was studying at the University of Barcelona; a few friends and I travelled to cities such as Madrid, Rome, Florence, Paris and Amsterdam to discover some of the greatest artists first hand.
As well as learning, one of your objectives for these exchanges is sharing your own knowledge. Which aspect of the experience do you most enjoy?
I could say both, but I think learning about new ideas I could use in my work is particularly attractive.
When you think about organising a cultural exchange, are you looking to keep exploring the techniques you already use or do you also look to add new skills to your repertoire? How about from other artistic disciplines?
I always try to find something that could enhance my technique, something that gives it a new angle, adding new ingredients or different methods of working with the materials. In fact, if I see another artist using a technique that could complement my own work, I try experimenting with it to see what the results would be like.
Having travelled so extensively, what countries or places have really stood out because of what they have taught you?
Normally when I travel, I try to keep a free and open mind so that I can absorb everything I see, including the people, architecture, landscapes and colours. The trips I’ve taken to Africa and South America have been extremely fruitful and are incredibly rich countries in this regard, but in each country I visit I also try to soak up any peculiarities they may hold.
What would the experience be like for an artist who was to come and do an exchange with you in Barcelona?
Aside from the current political issues, Barcelona is a real amalgamation of cultures. It’s like a smaller version of New York where many young people come to learn and bring their enthusiasm and free thinking. Of course, I can also show them where to go to best discover and appreciate the city’s cultural qualities.
And finally, how would you convince someone who’s on the fence about organising this kind of experience?
Easy! Staying in one place never got us anywhere. Here’s a practical example: many years ago I had a happy and comfortable life in Barcelona and I could have carried on with it just fine, but I decided to leave everything and move to New York for a year. It was an incredible experience, everything I experienced and enjoyed was so different to what I was used to, so enriching, that I would never regret having gone.
Zvonimir, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us. You can find out more about this talented artist and take a look at his work by visiting his website.
If you’re also interested in picking up new skills, like Zvonimir, and making the most of a cultural exchange, what are you waiting for? Sign up now! All you have to do is click on the link and take the first step!