I met AV and his wife over one lovely dinner last year. Since one of the prevailing topics was Japan, when I told them that I had seen a statue of Gundam on Odaiba, AV told me that Gundam was his favorite anime of his childhood. So when we got invited to his apartment for dinner I prepared two gifts- a Gundam from Odaiba and Kannon Buddha from Oya, Utsunomiya, the photos from Nostalgia Exhibition.  I forgot to mention that his wife was Yoga Master from Laos. So while eating, drinking grappa and some rice rakija from Laos, at some point AV got his Gundam T-shirt and he started singing Gundam opening in Italian. And yes, he is Italian and everyone knows that I have soft spot for Italy and Italians. Logically we became friends. Few Gundam days later he visited me at my atelier to see my works and after a week or so he invited me for a cup of coffee. Basically, he said, he wanted a family portrait in non-classical way, rather more comic like, as in ukiyo-e, and if I would like to do something like that.

I did, and the first idea that came to my mind was a print of Hojo Tokimasa of Totomi Praying to Benzaiten from Yoshitoshi’s Warriors Trembling with Courage series of prints. Because in Europe we observe paintings from left to the right as we read (and we read comics like that) I have flipped the composition. The idea was that AV was humbled by his wife who was meditating.


And then AV said- Well I would like to have a bass guitar… What do you need bass guitar for? …to play a serenade to her.

So instead of Tokimasa-san, I thought of incorporating Picasso´s the Old Guitarist with red Fender Precision Bass. But that guitarist was depressing and the composition now got no story. Instead of AV being a guitarist sitting on the rock, I realized it could be a Gundam pilot sitting on Gundam´s shoulder playing bass shamisen and the sea is a wave of sakura flowers, revealing something sacred was happening. This will also connect me to the painting more. But that still didn´t solve sadness of the Old Guitarist. While I was searching for nice drawing of shamisen I stumbled upon the print of Actor Ichikawa Ebijūrō in the Role of Sangobei by Toyokuni. I could see how he could be hitting the bass strings with his thumb of the left hand and it all made sense now. The painting now had a quirkiness of European upbringing with flavor of openness and eclecticism facing tranquility and clarity of Asia, and me as a conductor.


Apart from things described, there is also a hidden message inside the composition and not so hidden messages in the symbols on the painting. But those have to be revealed to you by AV and his wife.

For the name of this piece, I went with Cornelius´s Star Fruits Surf Rider, a slowdown surf rock tune, with the melancholy lyrics that evoke longing for someone. Is AV a Star Fruits Surf Rider, riding a sakura wave on his Gundam, chasing his love, please, listen to the song bellow and let me know?

Technique: acrylic on canvas

Size: 120 x 88,50 cm
(47.24 x 34.84 inch)

Year: February 2019

Availability: In Private Collection

Bijin-ga (Paintings of the Beautiful Person)

When you have a friend like Nana Monda, it is hard not to enjoy bijin-ga. Her paintings have been constantly influencing my work. For me she is a truly living master of bijin-ga. Next in line is my friend Nataša Konjević, whose fantastic mixture of magic and portraits never fail to amaze me.

Bijin-ga is commonly translated as Portraits of beautiful women but it should be translated as Portraits of beautiful person, an individual, something that reflects inner beauty, gender is not specified at all. This leaves opening to gender fluidity in my future paintings from this series.

In my bijin-ga I will try to grasp iki – いき feeling, a beautiful sensual situation or a personal charm, where a viewer is a discreet witness to this moment.