Olja Ivanjicki Biography

Olja Ivanjicki's parents came to Yugoslavia from Russia in the twenties. Olja was born in Pancevo, near Belgrade, and spent her childhood in Kragujevac, Republic of Serbia, where her father was an engineer in the Military Technical Institute.

Olja Ivanjicki entered public limelight with Mediala - a group of young artists (painters, writers, architects) seeking their own original expression, who made a significant impact on Belgrade's public and cultural life at the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties. The art they presented was strongly symbolic and based on the avant-garde trends of the first decades of the twentieth century. In their vision of Surrealism, Dado Djuric, Ljuba Popovic, Toskovic, Leonid Sejka, Miro Glavurtic, Milic of Macva and other Mediala members thus found themselves in the company of authors having an equally original style such as Vasko Popa, Danilo Kis, Borislav Pekic, Brana Petrovic, and Zika Pavlovic.

Olja Ivanjicki attended the Academy of Visual Arts and finished her post-graduate studies in 1957 in Belgrade. The same year, she had her first individual exhibition to be followed by many others throughout Yugoslavia, in the United States, Canada and Switzerland. Her works were exhibited collectively with those of other artists in Belgium, Italy, Spain, Federal Republic of Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Soviet Union and China. Olja caused a real sensation an Belgrade with Pop-Art, to which she turned following her return from the United States where she studied in 1962 as Ford Foundation scholarship recipient.

Olja's pictures imaginatively interweave the symbols of various cultures and civilizations (from Pytagoras and Da Vinci to space flight). This is why, as Miodrag B. Protic said in 1976, her painting has "a great multi-level complexity in time and contents". In his introduction to the Belgrade exhibition catalogue that year, Protic wrote that the "ideal of the integral was the main interest of Mediala and Olja...and the aspiration towards that age-old chimera had a concrete result: it inspired Olja's lively imagination to develop a vision of a modern fantasy having a deeply personal ichnographic and plastic structure".

The first official recognition of Olja's work came in 1964, when she got the silver plaque for fiction illustration at the "Zlatno pero Beograda" (Belgrade Gold Pen) exposition, to be followed, among others, by the award of public at the 11th October Salon in 1970, the first prize at the "Belgrade in Visual Arts" exhibition in 1974, the award of the public at the 16th October Salon in Belgrade and second prize at the "Belgrade in Visual Arts" exhibition in 1975, and the first prize of honor of the "First Biennial of Yugoslav Art" in New York, in 1978.

Olja Ivanjicki died on 24 June 2009 in Belgrade, aged 78.