It is all about ‘Feelings’: inside the intimate universe of Ines Zrnc Gregorina and Petar Varat 

Feelings’, an exhibition realized at the ULUPUH Gallery, Zagreb, by the extremely spontaneous, curious and creative Ines Zrnc Gregorina in collaboration with the journalist, editor and digital project manager Petar Varat. The exhibition, in few days, has succeeded in questioning, through spectacular, provocative and various works, the relationship between art and feelings such as love, beauty, fears and ego.

The goals?
Bringing the audiences to experience their exhibition as a place for sociological and psychological exploration of different themes such as: paraphrasing both everyday life and unconventional things and contextualizing all our conscious and subconscious inner struggles, fears and feelings.

Who are Ines Zrnc Gregroina and Petar Varat? And, what is their background? 

Ines is a Croatian fashion designer, costume designer, make up artist and conceptual artist. She won numerous awards for fashion collections and she also exhibits her works in numerous Croatian and foreign exhibitions. Specialized in recycling old clothes, materials and accessories, in order to create new functional fashion items and clothes or artistic operas. Ines founded the Vintage Picnic brand selling clothes to change the image of fashion from within and with determination. As costume designer, Ines has worked on several feature films, TV series productions, theater plays, and numerous music and commercials.

Mr. Varat works as a photographer, cameraman, editor on videos, documentaries and short films, in recent years he has dedicated himself to the visual arts. Worked on several videos of Croatian and Slovenian musicians, dedicated and advertising videos for different brands as director.

VOOM spoke to Ines and Peter about their reality as creative souls at the big opening of their exhibitions at the ULUPUH Gallery.

(The exhibition started on Friday, April 16, 2021 and ended on Thursday, April 29, 2021) 

Describe your self in 3 words

Ines: colorful, shaggy, electric

Petar: very very patient

Describe your technique/creative process

I: I don’t think much about it, it just happens. I prefer experimenting and improvising, and it always leads to a moment when it starts to unfold by itself.

P: Experiment and improvisation is something we got in common, so when she has an idea or starts to do something I never say: “wait I need to setup a scene…”. I just work with whatever I got in that moment.

What’s a typical creative day like, for you?

I: Typical creative day? Hmmm, there is so much talk about (laugh). Everyday can be creative, every little thing during the day can be creative, and big everything doesn’t have to be creative…I can say I love to recycle, to give second life to old things and if I have enough time, I can do it all day. Well, one of my friends once said that I can make eggs look artistic, so my breakfast can by art (laugh)…

P: And again, I have to agree with Ines. We (together and separate) don’t work in “now is the day for creativity” way. Some of these arts we made in the middle of the night after we worked whole day in Ines’s yard and then just before I was to go home we had an idea…

How is coronavirus affecting your artistic work?

I: Well, instead of full gallery we had only 12 people on exhibition opening due to epidemic measures. OK, during the opening day (and the following days) more people came to see it but people were afraid of closed spaces, they avoided going to museums and galleries. Now you have to be brave to go to see art.

P: In some way isolation and closed society can help artists, especially if you need empty space, if you do anything about fear… When we were creating our exhibition we needed empty and lonely spaces, and it was harder to find it (that was before corona time) and when we setup the exhibition we needed lot of people to film their feelings when they were looking it. But instead we got only a small number of people, separated from each other, with masks on their faces. Feelings? You don’t see it, I am afraid.

You have a very particular aesthetic. What inspired you in the creation of  “Feelings” the exhibition at ULUPUH Gallery inaugurated on April 16, 2021?

I: It is a project that took us three years for making it and now we decided to give it to the world, and now it is yours, you have to deal with it (laugh). Main inspiration was, and still is, my feelings, I had to show them in some way, and Pero was here to help me with that. Funny thing is that I never told him “now we are going to do this particular feeling”. I just started to expose myself in every-way…

P: First collaboration we have done under the name Feelings was something completely different than what you can see at the exhibition (maybe one day it will be some different artwork). Ines decided she needs to show something else and I decided I need to bare my part and to try to show how I feel about her feeling (not knowing what feeling that is). I guess that is it.

What does “Feelings” mean to you?

I: Feelings (and I don’t mean exhibition but real feelings) are everything to me. It is something that gets me thru the day and without it there will be no life. You have to feel everything, you have to maximize every emotion, every feeling… Or you don’t have to feel anything… Feel it, you need to feel everything.

P: Ines is the one that feels. I just need to film it (laugh).

And, what are the main goals of the exhibition? How do you think your works have been perceived by visitors?

I: We wanted to capture a reaction from the visitors. As Pero mentioned earlier, we were even filming them. And how it affected them? Reactions are much much better than we thought they would be. We expected maybe some shock or disgust but most of them related to it, they found them self, their reality in our works. I guess now days we are all so f… up (laugh)

P: I am just always amazed to see how feelings can get thru art and touch someone else. When we made our first short movie “I do” (https://www.croatian.film/hr/films/4846/watch ) that was shown, among other festivals, on Braunschweig Film Festival in Germany, we were invited there as festival guests and we were present on film projection and had an Q&A afterwards. And when people started asking us about some details about movie, we realized that they found deeper meaning in details that we were not even think about, we just did them. But for others it was representation of strong feeling. And same thing applies to this exhibition.

When did you decide you wanted to co-work as artists? 

I: I don’t know exactly when we decided to work together. It is not important anyway, what is that we realized that we could work together, we can fight, get angry to each other and we can still work and create something. And after all night of fighting, we can make something great. We understand each other extremely well.

P: Initially I was going to be her PR agent because I worked as a journalist at the time we start hanging out together. But somehow, we started working together instead.

What does collaboration mean in art? And, Why are collaborations important in the art system?

I: It is important because you know that something is standing behind you, guarding you. You are not alone. It is nice to have someone who understands you and who you understand and who can share a beer with you (laugh). It is great when everything is going well but is also great when it is not. Because, again, you can share everything.

P: I guess there are two kinds of artists in the world: those who are better when working alone, and those that can give their full potential when working together. Just look at all those McCartney-Lennon/Gilmour-Waters examples. Yes, they did art separately but what they did together is timeless. Important thing is to complement each other. Each one needs to have strong point different that other’s strong point.

I want to make art but I don’t know where to start”. How make a career choice when you are undecided? 

I: Just do it. Go for it. You need to start doing something, no matter how bad it is. If you don’t try you will not do anything. If you make something that is really “shitty” you can learn from your mistakes and next time do something better. Don’t be afraid, and that is it.

P: When it comes to making an art nobody can tell you that it is good or not. If you are satisfied than it is ok so there is no room for fear. You can always say “I was planning to do it this way” (laugh).

What are the pros and cons of being an artist?

I: I think that one who is an artist will never say “I am an artist, look at me”. Everything is trying to be excepted and with artist that is even stronger. You are trying not just to be excepted from audience but also from galleries, theaters, cinemas… And to do that, you need to expose yourself to the world, so refusal, if it happens, is much hurtful. That is charm and curse at the same time. You are launched like a rocket in a space but that rocket can also explode an shatter at the bottom of the ocean.

P: You need to ask some artist about it (laugh).

Tell VOOM what you are working on right now

I: Right now, we are trying to film visitors reactions on an exhibition and to finish our first experimental feature film. And as we already said we are always experimenting and improvising so who knows, maybe something we are doing now will be future exhibition or movie. Or both. Or something new.

P: All of this that is right now an exhibition one day will be experimental movie. We need to finish it, and who know, maybe we have enough material, or we need to film more. We will let you know when we decide (laugh).

So, do you have hope and dreams for the future?

I: We hope to work together as a team in the future, to understand each other same way we did so far, because it is far to maintain artistic relation in the same way it is with every other relation. Sometimes you can’t continue with someone and it almost happened to us, but we managed to overcome it. What are out dreams? We already fulfilled some of them. Our movie was shown on big film festival in Braunschweig, we had our exhibition show in gallery. Of course, we have also bigger dreams, and we will never stop dreaming.

P: Maybe to be able to live just from our art, to make our art our main job. It is in a way materialist point of view, but why not. We will not sell ourselves, that is what I am sure of.

Text and interview by Sofia Malatesta | | @sofia_malatesta

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