Inside the Artists Mind - ANTONIA MRLJAK

Antonia Mrljak, Painter, Sydney
“When I was seven I remember drawing with charcoal from the fire pit my family had in the backyard. I used to draw on the concrete the things that were around me; flowers, tools and my father working in the backyard,” says Antonia Mrljak and she hasn’t stopped creating since. Her work is abstract, all consuming and almost hypnotic the way it draws our eyes frantically around every inch of the canvas. “I use energetic gestures to create a powerful flow of shapes across a flat surface. When I am painting I am collecting ideas from my personal life, informed by my background and what I see in the world around me.” And so we fall into the magical world of Madam Mrljak.

Why is it imperative for you to create?
“Creativity was inherited from a lineage of makers in my family. All of the women worked with textiles with bright colours and patterns. My grandfather was a shoemaker, and everybody farmed. Creating is an outlet to tell stories about my experiences
through this life.”
Where do you go - physically, mentally or virtually - to ignite your creativity?
“It comes from two places; one is memory and one is education. Memory is where I store all of my experience, whether intellectually or physically. Drawing from my education at Sydney College of the Arts I learnt instinctive creative expression.”
What are three things you do to stay sane?
“Drink coffee, flick through artist books and listen to music.” 
What are you excited about right now?
“Everything I am always excited! Especially about making more art.”

When did you first meet Mr Minty?
“I met Mr Minty three years ago, at the Sydney of College of Art graduation show during my final year of my Bachelor of Fine Art. Jason arrived at my exhibiting space on the top floor far away from all of the other students. That night we chatted briefly, he saw my work then we made plans to have my first solo show at Becker Minty, he is an extraordinary and gorgeous person.”
Tell us about the first piece / collection of works you showed with Becker Minty?
“The first body of work I presented at Becker Minty was titled ‘Gift’ and it accidentally responded to Jason’s own aesthetic. It was about acknowledging a practice that was giving back, that I was grateful for the opportunity to share creativity and my practice. I showed a series of paintings and drawings. I remember getting so worked up about the show that I made too many works. I recall Jason’s reaction on the day all my pieces arrived, he was surprised, and we were both excited to curate with a large selection.” 
What are you working on now?
“Currently a large-scale artwork and a new series to be exhibited this year.”
Where do you work from?  
“My studio in Alexandria that I share with three other artists. It’s a great space with lots of light and fabulous energy.” 
What do you love most about your workspace?
“The high ceilings, the people that share it with me and the Vietnamese coffee
around the corner!”
Do you have any rituals you perform before creating?
“Open up my art journal, write my thoughts and walk around the studio. Tidy up, draw quick sketches and start painting. I am hands on immediately with no hesitation.” 
Biggest obstacle you face whilst creating?
“Overworking. Often I get to a point where the painting is resolved and for some reason I want to keep going, that makes many layers on paint emerge, then eventually it resolves.”

What do you listen to while you work? 
“David Byrne is one of my favourites, always music!”
Favourite tool to work with?
“Brushes and charcoal, my hands.”
What colour makes your heart sing?
Most loved scent?
“Chanel no. 5, because it’s the first luxury perfume I owned that was gifted to me by my now husband.”
What word or phrase drives you nuts?
“Just ride the wave.”
What would like to see or hear more of in the world?
“Less pollution, and more love for each other.”
Best advice you’ve been given?
“Don’t stop painting.”
Finally, please share what you are currently: 
Want to watch: The Godfather - all over again…
READING: R.D. Laing’s The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise and Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois
LISTENING: Christine and The Queens.
DOING: Drinking my first coffee of the day.

Rebecca Khoury
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