Maria Pavlovska knew she would be an artist since she was little. From an early age, paper sheets were insufficient for drawing, so she switched to drawing on the walls in her home, and then she went to the Art High School, Faculty of Fine Arts in the class of Professor Simon Semov. She obtained Master’s Degree in Skopje and with her first exhibition in Macedonia she was noted as a painter with authentic expression. She has held solo shows within the the frames of “Skopje Summer Festival”, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the City of Skopje, exhibitions in Vienna, Paris, Sofia, Berlin, and for the past few years she has been living and working in New York.
It is said that the job of the artists is selfish … Would you agree with that?
Pavlovska: Our job is indeed very selfish. It requires complete isolation. I spend most of the time in the studio and that’s where the great productivity comes from.
After exhibitions in Vienna and Paris, you were also invited again to stay and create art in these two cities. The same thing happened in New York, where you have stayed till now…
Pavlovska: My New York exhibition was held in May 2007 and my work was noticed by critics, artists and gallery owners, so I was invited to come back with a project. I was offered to come in October and no one would miss such an offer, and I immediately started to collaborate with the gallery. I’ve come a long way. It was very hard at first, I had no studio, I had to survive the day, new city, not knowing anybody … But when there’s will, everything is possible, so after a while I managed to get a space where I can work and slowly things began to fall into place. So, currently my home is Skopje – New York.
Since 2012 you have a residential stay in New York. What does that mean? How did you get it?
Pavlovska: In 2012 I applied for and got residence to work in one of the most prestigious museums in New York and the surrounding area – the Mana Contemporary museum. There are six floors of gallery space where exhibitions of top authors are displayed, there are also two floors of studios, which are awarded to contemporary artists to work, including myself. I’m the only artist from southeastern Europe, and the youngest of all who managed to get space in this museum.
According to Frank Sinatra’s lyrics, New York is “the city that never sleeps and if you can make it in New York then you can make it anywhere” … Do you agree with that?
Pavlovska: Just as you said, New York is an explosion of information daily. Starting from music, theater, Wall Street, the subway … frankly, not everyone can stand it. To live in New York, you have to be part of New York, and to hold out. Look, there are people living in New York who have never been to the Metropolitan, people who do not speak English even after 20 years… In that sense: I live in New York! I go to opening of exhibitions at the Metropolitan museum, I am a member of the Guggenheim museum … in a word, I live like a true New York artist. Life in New York is very expensive, starting from the place to live, getting a gallery to work, memberships … but it was all made to be expensive so that those who shouldn’t be there are not there. And I must say, it is not easy to find your way in such environment. Every day is a new struggle, I have no support there, I do everything alone.
Tell us more about your atelier in Mana Contemporary.
Pavlovska: When you get an atelier there, you also get privacy to work like in your own studio, but you have certain obligations because you are their artist, with their residence. The room is fantastic, with all the necessary conditions: framing of works, transport and packaging for an exhibition, daily lectures by top masters of the craft, curators. The opening of Mana’s exhibitions is attended by the whole world elite in the field of art, so by opening my studio during the exhibition, my works have the opportunity to be seen by the elite, collectors, curators, and then invitations for group or solo exhibitions might follow.
Your specific artistic expression is the mark of your art. What inspires you to tell the stories that surround you through curvy and irregular lines?
Pavlovska: The simplest way to say this is that everyone of us has their own unique handwriting. My handwriting is different from yours, yours is not the same as Dejan’s, Dejan’s handwriting is different from Jana’s … etc. When you preserve it in literature, and art is our handwriting, our authorship, and you nurture that view of yours, then you remain your own person. I urge my colleagues not to succumb under economic pressures, not to leave their own handwriting, their mark. The moment I won’t have to sign a piece, and people will know it’s Marija’s, then I will know that I’ve come to the stage with my authorship.
How do you see, experience art?
Pavlovska: Art is a dangerous profession. Art should be genuine. In art, there should be no lies, the time, the feeling should be told, the time that you live in, the way it is. Of several million artists, history separates what is real in the moment of creation, because that documents a certain time. Because the author is the one who should say the truth: artist, musician, writer … Art is truth and truth is art. The culture of a country is so important because it documents the development of that country.
By: Nevena Popovska