Milan Hrnjazović




Spectator           The Postcards from the Mediterranean           Dornröschen           Together, yet apart            Figures and Nudes 
Femme Fatale / Big Game            Mother and Child            Metamorphoses            The Palm            Drawings / Works on paper



Smoke: It Started as a Joke

I am from Ukraine; Ukrainian, or Russian, I'm not sure. A family tree analysis would probably confirm both possibilities. Until recently, ethnicity was not a common topic of conversation in my city, nor was it a criterion of one's identity; for me, it's not even today, and I'm sure it won't be in the future either. I rely on personal resources, the most important of which is my physical appearance.

Wherever I appear, I attract attention. Everyone addresses me kindly and with a smile; men, of all generations, especially. Wanting to win my attention and trust, they approach me, and more or less discreetly offer a lot. I reject them. Physical beauty, which they want, for me, is something sublime and precious. I'm taking care of it. I'll tell you: I dream about a career as a photo model. I want to be a star like the legendary Naomi, Cindy, Linda... Could such a thing come true? Will famous fashion agencies notice me at some point?

In the meantime, I focus on my education: learning foreign languages ​​fills most of my free time, and I am a passionate lover of literature. A career as a photo model would allow me what I want: to travel, the opportunity to help my parents financially, and money for further education.

Some time ago I had a strange dream that has remained etched in my memory. Although I rarely go out, in that dream I am in an elite nightclub, alone. I notice that several older men, sitting in a nearby booth, are watching me continuously. They look well-off and are probably very influential. I decide to play a little joke: I approach the oldest among them, an extravagantly dressed gentleman, and take away the pipe he was smoking. Not with the hand, but with the toes. After inhaling the smoke myself, I noticed that my leg was no longer part of my body. Observing it somehow from above, I instinctively reach out my hand towards it; however, I can't feel my hand - it turned into smoke. Everyone around me starts laughing and I panic. The whitish smoke from the pipe turns into thick, black clouds that engulf the entire space. Silence and darkness prevailed.

Smoke: It started as a Joke, oil on canvas, 140x110cm (55x43in), 2023 (private collection)

Beauty and the Beast, oil on canvas, 120x190cm, 2023 (private collection)

Sandra, oil on canvas 100x140cm (39x55in), 2024



Fire is all around us. On the city streets, both in rich and poor countries, cars, containers, and buildings are set on fire, and even people set themselves on fire as a sign of protest. Wars don't stop; explosions are countless. Nature also burns. Clouds of thick smoke regularly rise over the Mediterranean during summer, and in some other parts of the world, fiery elements consume country-sized forests. There is a fire in public speech, in politics, in the minds and hearts of people. Fire prevention is rarely discussed. Some people clearly work on fueling those flames even more. And the climate, they say, is getting warmer.



Summertime, oil on canvas 70x106cm (28x42in), 2022

Boring Saturday evening, oil on canvas 120x150cm (47x59in), 2022

Volcano, oil on canvas 65x100cm (26x39in), 2023

Waiting (Marina Enjoys the Spectacle of Fire), oil on canvas, 150x100cm (59x39in), 2023



The following thoughts of Ivo Andrić (the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961) left a strong impression on me. Although Andrić wrote about the historical and political destinies of peoples, the analogy with the life circumstances of individuals in the present time is obvious.

"And so, tacitly accepting the conditions of life that your enemy sets for you, you live as he wills you to; that is, you do not truly live - you wait patiently, until your entire life, together with all that you wished for, turns into patience and endless waiting, which means that you have accepted the way of life of the ordinary people, which is the same as the path of voluntary destruction of himself and his offspring.

They infected you with that waiting that both keeps you alive and slowly kills you so that they wouldn't have to kill you themselves. You will wither and disappear as so many ancestors and peoples in the Ottoman Empire have withered and disappeared before you in the same or similar way.

They did not even notice that they were imperceptibly transferred from the path of true life to the dead-end track of waiting without an end and goal. They did not feel their waiting as a burden or as humiliation, because they turned into waiting.

To infect someone with waiting is the most reliable way to rule over someone, it means to make him/ her completely and forever immobile and harmless, and this deception of waiting is more secure than any prison and stronger than the strongest chains, because, with a lot of luck and skill, one can escape from prison and be freed from shackles, but from those deceptions (!) - never.

Everything that you are and that you know, and can do, has been placed at the service of that endless waiting, without any prospect of realization. For some, a century passes in painful and futile waiting, while others get everything they want and hope for without the slightest wait."

I'm waiting (for Something to happen) oil on canvas 150x120cm (59x47), 2022
(private collection)


A Girl with a Pipe

"No, pictures like this don't attract attention. You expect too much; someone who quickly goes through photos on a mobile phone should first keep their attention on yours longer; then study it, and after that decipher its hidden messages by connecting, in his mind, the ideas that are not close in the real world", explained Marina, a charming girl, who's,  in her spare time,  an Instagram star with hundreds of thousands of followers.

Maybe she's right. With a willowy figure, big green eyes, and a captivating smile, a non-smoker, she was the model for the girl with the pipe - the central figure of the painting with the same name that I've just finished and which we commented on. Inspired by Picasso's famous Boy with a Pipe, it was conceived as his female counterpoint.

"To me, this looks," Marina continued, "like a picture of a world steeped in indifference. First of all, the observer is indifferent to the painted scene. She, who wants our attention, may even stand on her head; regardless, our gaze will spontaneously shift to the characters in the background who do not want her and, as expected, do not hold her back. On the other hand, the interrelationship of characters, or groups within the picture, exudes disinterest in anything outside of themselves or their current preoccupations. Everyone is focused solely on themselves and their current intentions."

Girl with a pipe, oil on canvas 150x200cm (59x79in), 2021, (private collection)

Girls on beach (Melancholy in paradise),oil on canvas, 150x200cm (59x79in), 2023,
(private collection)

A jealous woman

Mr. A is a charming, charismatic man in his sixties; a successful businessman and a caring family man, who easily achieves amazing results in every job he undertakes. Madam B is his wife. She is a bit younger, so her age is probably her only hindrance on their life journey together. She is the owner of her own business and is a reliable support for her husband and grown-up daughter and son at all times. Madam C is a forty-year-old employee in the municipal administration. Always smiling and kind, dedicated to work, and devoted to her family: her husband, children, and parents. Recently, she is the new love of Mr. A.

The new lovers did not hide; they appeared together at public events and went out in the company of friends. Madam B found out one evening that her husband and Madam C had reserved a table at a nearby restaurant. She arrived on time; a couple in love had just started dinner. She approached their table and started an argument with Madame C using caustic remarks. The opponent put up a strong fight. The argument flared up and turned into a fight to the astonishment of those present. The only person who enjoyed this scene was Mr. A. The quarrel between the two women amused him immensely, and their physical confrontation reduced him to tears of laughter.

Since then, Mr. A and Madame C have not appeared together in public. Madam B was proud of her husband. "He who doesn't love other women doesn't love his own either!", she once said to her gathered friends.

Red cliffs (Hidden place), oil on canvas 60x80cm (24x31in), 2022


Red Rocks / Observer

The year is 2020. During the recent, well-known state of emergency, we witnessed changes in the way of life, restrictions on freedom of movement, and the so-called new normal. However, it could be noticed that not everyone is experiencing the new normal. Individuals privileged by material wealth, social status, attractive physical appearance, and youth (often all of these at the same time) told us through social networks and popular mass media that life is beautiful; the given time should be used for listening to music, watching movies, reading novels and all personal pleasures for which we didn't have time until recently.

The state of emergency further highlighted the contrasts within the social hierarchy, and the confinement and exposure to computers, mobile phones, and television screens made it even more visible. Many remained confined in cramped apartments in gray city districts. Some found themselves in luxurious villas surrounded by idyllic landscapes during the state of emergency. Due to the loss of their jobs, many feared for their future and that of their families. Others were preoccupied with vacation plans that would be implemented as soon as the emergency measures were eased.

Romantic, sentimental, and, above all, aesthetically idealized scenes flooded popular social networks. Observing them daily, staring at the screens, we could wonder if real life was happening somewhere far away, beyond our reach, and if ours had enough meaning. Observing the lives of others, we gradually lose our own. Could this be the hidden purpose of the ubiquitous seductive images?

Red Rocks (Spectator), oil on canvas 100x140cm (39x55in), 2021

Claire, oil on canvas 100x140cm (39x55in), 2022, (private collection)

Lovers (Jealous woman), oil on canvas 100x150cm (39x59in), 2020, (private collection)

November sun, oil on canvas 100x150cm (39x59in), 2021