Muhamed Kafedžić – Muha / ムハメッド カフェジッチ 無派
“I’d rather be a pig than a fascist”
– ポルコ・ロッソ（Porco Rosso）
I was born in 1977 in Zenica, in Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or, just Yugoslavia for short, with atheist but multicultural and interreligious upbringing. My hometown was built around large steel plant that was the foundation for economic and cultural prospect of the city. Artists were often financed directly by steel company and used their large hangars as studios or exhibiting space. To many it was also an inspiration for their work.
But that is gone, together with economic and cultural prospect. The Bosnian War (1992-1995) scarred my teenage hood and high school years and left me with devastated country with wounded and scattered families, destroyed economy, cultural decadence and government body created in a way to maintain status quo in frozen state of constant war. In an effort to enforce peace with agreement the US and EU created Frankenstein’s monster- the government system that is fully open to corruption, local and international, creation that is growing malignant cancer feeding on people´s fear and national rhetoric while sucking MMF tit. The post war time finished what war has started, and all cultural assets that don´t serve national rhetoric of ruling parties are left to perish. So don´t be surprised if you find out that our museums and galleries are closed in time of your visit.
I moved to Sarajevo in 1996 and it has been my hometown ever since. I enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, twice- gaining BA in Art Education and Magister Degree in Painting.
My artwork has foundation in two sources that I believe is one source spreading through the time and space with its starting source in Japan of Edo period, moving to France and Austria during Impressionism, Post-impressionism and Vienna Secession and then shifting to American continent. Those sources for me are Ukiyo-e and American Pop Art. So my sensei(s) are Hokusai and Roy Lichtenstein and my paintings are usually dominated by flatness and strong emphasis of drawing. American Pop Art embodies my pure love for comics and animation that I had since my early childhood and Ukiyo-e became a source for the virtues and joys of life that has been eradicated from my home country and replaced with American consumerism fed by raw capitalism without sense of social responsibility. In general, Japan has been the focus of my research both for my professional and personal development and for fun.
Being Bosnian with the recognizable Muslim name, educated in classical art academia rooted in Western Arts educational system founded in Europe, researching Eastern Arts and traditions for the last 15 years on my own I had to create an artist identity that will have to nullify my background and nullify or confuse established stereotypes in viewer. Therefore I have 3 different signatures,
This is my signature based on Japanese characters 無派 with meaning “to not belong to any party or school of thought”, witch perfectly suits me, as my arts have many roots and therefore it cannot belong to only one tradition.
Form based on Japanese characters 蝿 (hae) meaning „single fly“, but also “unimportant man”. This signature is used on my paintings from series 100 Views of Ukiyo-e and it is in tradition of early days’ Impressionist excitement with Ukiyo-e prints and all things which are Japanese. Here I am a “gaijin” genuinely in love with Japanese woodblock prints.
Unlike previous two that mostly deal with (my personal) identity of artist and question identity through the history of fine arts, this one is primarily questioning the role of history and geo-political influence on fine arts. It is series of painting with “what if” situation. The name is obviously a fusion of Kitagawa Utamaro, whose prints influenced French Impressionists the most, and Roy Lichtenstein.
I also found music to be mayor part of my artwork, in more spiritual and transcendent way, and for my spiritual grandfathers I chose Bob Marley, David Bowie and Dean Martin. In music I always find freedom and emotions that inspire me to do new work, to try something different, to boldly go… And as for my work in education it is concentrated on non-formal education in the form of workshops, where I use comics and street art with youth to communicate their needs.
For my greatest achievement I will present it in a way of my understanding of Ukiyo-e and that is down to earth love of life – I am a beloved husband and a father of two. And I was told by my Japanese friend that I looked like a Japanese farmer on the photo of me taken at Lake Kawaguchi below mountain Fuji. Nothing can top that!
Additional texts about my artwork done by art historian & curator, people with skills to dissect art and sometimes artists 🙂 can be found here:
- Research essay Ukiyo-e between Pop Art and (Trans)cultural Appropriation: On the Art of Muhamed Kafedžić – Muha by Srđan Tunić, Transcultural Studies Nr. 1 (2017), Heidelberg University Publishing
- Review Pop Art and pop art by Amalija Stojsavljević, art historian