~ Painting is freedom ~

A girl with downy flapped cap, that “must have” detail of the generation inherited from the pile of values, ideals and all together “heavenly chases” of her own parents and “close relatives”, appeared before time to the appointed meeting. She was sitting at the chair squirming as if she were at the dentist’s. She was speeding up the beginning of the conversation, which was a possible indicator that she would be a little pushed to speak, because it seemed that she had been one of those who liked “to push fast to the end”. Music that slowly overcame our hosts cozy autumn saloon, tucked up with the fragrances of early coming autumn, dimmed light of delicately placed lamps, as if it were that necessary associate to relax a young woman in the lack of time. However, she pulled her cap even more to her flaming eyes.
Who is Suzana actually? It was a kind of beginning.
- From the earliest days that I remember, I was doing only the things that I was feeling, not accepting to do anything I didn’t like. Painting is something that was making me complete, that I liked. It is my freedom. Since at the age of four I started drawing and very soon my first horse in natural size appeared on the wall of my room. It is still there, always waits for me when I visit my house in Vranje, beautiful, miraculous, the one, because it is alive all the time. Fifteen years later I stopped work.
On the question: “why” she decisively responds “why is too personal question”. On the repeated question, she more willingly answers that she would never paint just for painting “it is completely spontaneous in my case”. I never know when I would paint. Simply I do not force myself , escaping from “personal”. Not before the insinuation that arts are before all possibly personal matter, Suzana Stojanović accepts. “I stopped instinctively, as I instinctively paint. The circumstances were like I felt that Ihad tostop and with that I protected somehow both painting and myself. I was suffering, but frankly my paintings were suffering too, deep down in myself, but when I returned thirteen years ago I think that it had to be like that somehow. It was a period of my maturing, a period of new perceptions. The things I see now, I could not see then, possibly I was not able to see them”.
Was that creative silence, collecting and “storing on one safe place” perception?
- I knew thatitwill happen one day again, that is why I kept silent, I collected, took care of that, although the return to painting could happen even after thirty years, or in any other unspecific period. However, I kept all palettes and a few unfinished works.
The period of silence ceases after thirteen years and preserved passion of nineteen years old girl starts to pour out. You, as a young woman started “once again”. Did something specific happen then?
- It is complex, and that sort of my silence is a new beginning. Both of them started from me, nothing from the outer world did motivate me. All was only in me. Love moves me, belief that in this world there is something more supreme, somethingclose personal”. I did not go into painting for money or fame; I paint because I like to do that. I cannot explain that, it is my world; I do not know at all how does the moment of going into painting and getting into that beautiful world looks like. Indeed, while I think when I do my drawing, I recall of that, but at the moment I have palette in my hands, everything stops and color occupies me and carries me away.
Your works belong to modern, high realism or hyperrealism. There are big disputes and very much divided thoughts on these “movements”?
- My thinking about any sort of realism, no matter which degree you give to it, is not going into details, for example, horse portrait or human portrait. It is important to represent real space, real creature-person and real part of a day. It is realism for me: all lights, shadows, reality in richness of endless lights play; it is always connected to my mood, moment when I see something in some way and how it all looks likein my head”. While I paint I do not stick to some principles, I paint how I feel. Painting is freedom. People feel that. It is love, the artist’s soul. It is something more than painting itself; it is asubjectof observation. If it is not “alive”, people can feel that, I do not know how myself, but one painting is more than a painting, it is life and freedom.
Freedom, as a universal postulate of humanity, is one high and hard objective, frequently something that cannot be realized in many spheres of creation and life. How do you reach it?
- Freedom is the courage to be what you are. To work and to do the things you truly desire to do, is very hard, but if you are ready to try, it might succeed. I do not put up with force, I work only the things I like, in which I believe and I do not have prototypes; I do not use only special palette paints, special preparations, special brushes (one of the colleagues with Academy once stopped and ecstatically said “original Van Dyke brown”, I asked him to show me that in the painting, and then I showed him the tube of ourhome madepalette paint. He did not believe!). I buy material from many producers and it is not important to me whether they are highly ranked or not, since everything is in my fingers and my head. I buy preparations mostly in bookstores, sometimes I make them myself, but I do not make a fuss about it. It does not deal with any kind of philosophy, or paints, preparations but it deals with courage itself. For a good painting it is necessary to have something more than courage alone. It is condensed and unconscious; I am conscious when I start my painting and when I sign it, everything in-between is total power of the painting over me. The process of creation is completely irrational; sometimes I create work from a single drawing, sometimes only with fingers and colors, but I do not decide upon that consciously.
Why a horse?
- They intrude somehow themselves, not with their beauty, it is possibly the last that forced me to paint them, but with their looks in the eyes, carried for centuries, as if they were collected in their glance. They simply haunt me. In their first phase, as a little girl, I painted horses too, although rarely, I draw and paint people most of all, and now, I do only horses. I will wait for some time the moment when I will recognize in people the people again, if they awake in them. Horses aretheir own”, nobody possesses them, and people are very wrong, because horses are one unceasing net of our existence. People are not consequent, free, courageous, while horses are all these things. I will soon get very myown horse”, but no one will posses anyone in that situation. I am looking forward to its coming, ourtalksand sugar cubes with which we make them happy. It will come soon, but for now it is a secret, although it will be his nameSecret”.
▪ Interview: Miraculous world or necessary sugar cube (journalist Ružica Z.N. Stojković, “Danas”, an independent daily newspaper of record, published in Belgrade, Serbia)

~ Life is art ~

To introduce all this it is necessary to have complete study of horse anatomy and also horses recognition through history and mythology. Horses are frequent motive in the paintings of worldwide known artists. Let us just recall the works of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings, Pier Francesco, Albrecht Durer, Diego Velazquez, Peter Paul Rubens, Jan van Eyck, George Stubbs, Odilon Redon, but also the paintings of other symbolical meanings like the horses of Pablo Picasso, Lubarda, Miodrag Jelić, Mersad Berber... Suzana Stojanović also could not resist them. For “Vranjske” newspaper she speaks about her life and creating, lights and signs that destiny sends to us. She speaks of love, the greatest value of human life.
▪ Life celebration

The impression is that you are a woman of unusual artistic adventure?

- Life is an adventure, but art is not. Every new day is full of surprises, unexpected events, new meetings, experiences. The works of art are the products of our life adventures and dreams. Art is something that I take seriously and without art this world would be poor.

Horses are completely unique, painted with lot, not only skillfulness, but also spiritual creativity. How do you cherish your inner world?

- I cherish my inner world and make it richer with creation. Everything that I carry deep in myself I try to transfer symbolically through my paintings to the observers, so that they could experience my personality in eye sparkle in the portraits of horses, in their moves. I have dedicated to each of my paintings one of my short stories, one of my unforgettable moments of my mood and life, my desires and dreams. One life is short for creating everything I want, for fulfilling myself in the measure I want. I live for art and I feel happy for every single move of my brush, every living eye I create. I rejoice to each my signature, because I know that I have gifted one more ode to this magnificent animal that has been following us from the very beginning, and we have been giving so little to them.

What is the difference between the horses from the very beginning of yours artistic work and these that appear nowadays?

- I still cannot tell you now why I have started to paint horses. When I was little I loved to decorate the walls with their beauty and their greatness. I loved to paint white horses, fairy tales horses, free ones. They have always associated me to long trips, to princes, princesses, to something that connects centuries and civilizations. I returned to them in some other way after a long break. The thing that I see today is something that I could not see before or I was not ready enough to let myself go into these great temptations. I feel that through this horse motive I can express everything that I want: to paint beauty of these magnificent and romantic Arabian horses, to write about their eye looks deep into the distant places, to compose silent melodies about the mute whisper of their thick manes. Of course, in order to introduce all these, it is necessary to study horse anatomy and to have knowledge of horse’s roles through history and mythology.

Do they appear after the photos that you take or in some other way?

- I meet this kind of questions almost every day. There are many curious painters and art lovers worldwide and they all want to know something more about my paintings. There is no great philosophy, paintings appear from talent, great work and love towards the creation. At the moment I am working on a book where the procedure of horse paintings and drawings will be in details explained.

You do not classify yourself into any artistic movement. Does that mean that art is something that you adjust to yourself?

- Art is freedom. At this moment I am in the phase of realism, hyperrealism or popular photorealism, but it does not mean that I will keep up to it. I like to experiment and never limit myself in the creation. Horse as a motive is limitless inspiration that can be shown in many ways. I paint in the way I feel, totally spontaneously. My every painting is a story for itself, one part of my life, an event and mood.

Is there anything that motivates you from the outer world?

- Everything depends on the way you regard the outer world and on the wish what do you want to see and you don’t want to see. I search for something nice and good in everything that surrounds me. I am happy for every new day, for the fact that I exist, I am happy for every smile that I see in someone’s face, for every warm word. Love moves me, faith that there is something supreme and untouchable in this world.

▪ Sugar lump

Why do you say that one needs courage for a good painting?

- The hardest part is to make the first step, when in front of you is just clean canvas and in yourself only a huge wish to create something out from nothing. The process of creation is very long: from the irrational (when only emotions carry you and when you’re in the realm of colors) in real terms (when you are aware of what you create and when you are watching in front of you something that you have created). Good painting shines, haunts, calls us to watch it again and study it as for the first time. Painting has that much strength as much an artist gifts it with his or her own love, energy and fortitude towards the creation.

Dragan Malešević Tapi wrote in his Book of impressions during one of your exhibitions: “Glory to you, you are a great artist!” In what way these compliments motivate?

- Every compliment is a motivation if it is an honest one, especially if it comes from the people that mean a lot to me, no matter if they are “great” or not. I am happy for compliments that come from all the parts of the world, also from those “great” people. However, I am also happy for the compliments given by my friends, parents, who give me enormous support in everything I do and create.

How do you, in fact, experience horses?

- I have been cooperating for a very long time with horse’s fans and lovers, but also with horse farms worldwide. Recently, I have received a very interesting letter from one lady from the United States that forced me into deep thinking. She has experienced my paintings in one very romantic and special way; she wrote that I was a whisperer who goes deeply into the horse soul till the end, but immediately after this she presumed that I lived and represented the horses in this way because I did not own them and since I was not in the contact with them. Now I know that I will spend long time with them in my imagination and at the moment I miss them terribly, I will go to the nearest horse club to bring them a sugar lump.
▪ Interview: The friend of horses (journalist Valentina Milenković, “Vranjske”, weekly political-informative newsletter that objectively inform citizens about current events in the field of society, economy, culture, sport and health)

~ A blue-eyed professor ~

Bulky and wide, that blue-eyed professor always seemed innocent, gentle and dreamy, but her other face, sarcastic and envious, rarely anyone could see. Glued for her thoughts, it always moved with her as a loyal dog that never left his master. Behind the thinly framed glasses and blue eyes, hungry and thirsty someone else’s pain and restlessness, a dark world was hiding. Nobody knew about it, her irrepressible hunger, which was intensified in the small hours of the night. In those small hours, in company of cakes and snacks, she quietly created another, parallel world, in which, torn between questions and answers, she lived far from reality, family and friends. In it, she lived others’ moments, ups and downs, love and goodbyes. She went through some strange, nonsensical phases in which she forced her to create, to leave a trace, even if it was the greatest stupidity and failure. Except for the dark circles under the eyes, which became more and more noticeable, nothing else indicated that something was happening to her. Curiosity began to ruin her. Envy swallowed the last crumbs of her conscience. Everyday entertainment has occupied her life increasingly and pretended to grow into something serious. Malice, dressed in sweetness and gentleness, began to reveal itself more and more. Sickly obsessed with her virtual success a blue-eyed professor was processing others’ work and compiling a new one from them. At those moments of enthusiasm, her blue eyes turned into a restless, hungry sea, which swallowed up every hardly built, beautiful sailboat. This restless sea with years has become an endless ocean of stolen thoughts and phrases. Her spiritual desolation, the professor decorated with the emotions of sincere hearts. She hid her missed life through the dark chambers, tried to leave it behind, to erase it, but it persistently showed its presence in the voids and incomplete phrases behind which always stood, like prisoners, a long column of dots. The erased names of many authors were perceived in stolen words and photographs. Some of them, the most persistent, were trying to get out of captivity and say: “Hey, that’s me!” Unfortunately, there was no salvation for them. If they had not been so persistent, they might not have fallen into an ambush of a terrible, greedy mind, and perhaps they would not be in the hands of a woman who persuaded herself that all these inexhaustible sources were her and that she was born to determine their destinies and flows. She ran away from the quotations and never used them for fear of not discovering her secret sources. Tireless and eager for virtual success, she searched for old texts and photographs, which she thought were all forgotten for many years, but overlooked one very important thing, which might have been stolen by someone before her. Realizing that it was a hank that unwinds very slowly, she did not stop. She walked the wrong way, and she enjoyed this walk very much. Her poetry was slowly becoming a prose with dots, as if they were saying: “It will continue.” With every new sunset, her entertainment was increasingly taking on the characteristics of a profitable and serious business. She became so skilled in compiling new works that others’ words became more and more her. Nevertheless, she could not avoid the struggle with unknown phenomena and concepts, and this, unknown, constantly bothered her to arrange the collected material to the end. One part always stood unfinished as if it were waiting for a new author to complete it. She did not give up, she was patient. She knew that some new soul, from which she would loot, would appear. At those moments of anger, helplessness and anticipation, a faithful dog that never left his master, spoke from her. After many years, all that I once only perceived about her other face became reality. The ones told me she was chasing me in the small hours of the night. I recognized my sentences in “her” poems and prose. I was ashamed instead of her and in the name of all the students who believed her and wondered why so much effort and insomnia as she could simply erase my name and write her own. And then, I would just ashamed again instead of her and in the name of all those professors in whose rows she was sitting and I wondered again why did she just choose me?
A blue-eyed professor, author Suzana Stojanović, January 26, 2018

~ Suzana and her soul ~

As a great lover of horses and their world, as a horse rider, I was astonished by what Suzana’s paintings, her biography and accompanying stories revealed to me. The paintings and that stream of tender reflections illustrate beauty, warmth, nobleness, feelings and intelligence of both her and those miraculous creatures. It’s a unique union of a man and a horse. I know it all too well. It’s hard to achieve it and feel it but that’s exactly what Suzana has managed to do, understanding the depth of a strong, masculine body that gives a sense of power; each vein on the neck that is pulsating; the sincerity of a horse’s eye, no matter what that eye wants to tell us at a certain moment, that it’s in fear, that it is grateful for our breath being united with its widened nostrils, that it’s grateful for a lump of sugar, for given sweetness and love, for bales of hay or oats that it takes as a child takes chocolate. It’s an honest creature. Honesty is hard to find in humans. And once one finds it, they should know how to put that on canvas and into words. “While I’m creating I always believe that someone somewhere far away might touch my soul in some of my paintings, in some of my stories”, says Suzana Stojanović. I would say that she has touched my soul, and other souls as well, understanding them in a particularly subtle way. I’d call her “the ambassador of nobleness”.
Each painting is magnificent, each story is wonderful.
While I’m reading Memories, that subtle and sophisticated story, I feel sad, my throat tightens because that story describes my life, my reflections on memories that are, as she says “the house of treasure”, reflections on my family that doesn’t exist anymore, on all those magnificent everyday things and details that made life with my parents wonderful. They were exceptional parents. And after that, there is a bunch of memories left: the warm, beautiful and cheerful ones, but also the ones that bring pain. All of that Suzana united in a wonderful story, perhaps my favorite, though it’s not fair to isolate any of them from that abundance that represents a true remedy for us, because in each of them I find pieces of the mosaic of my own life.
Her painting, narration, violin playing (because Suzana is an artist in that as well), and her gift gave her the ability to unite it all and make, both for her and us, a step forward, I’d say a step into the world, the same world we all strive for, or at least say we do, but which we demolish and destroy: the world of beautiful things, children and wonderful creatures in the world of animals and fairy tales.
God, bless us with more perfection like this one.
Suzana and her soul (Davorka Vučak, an artist)

~ Flying horse ~

Serbian riflemen on horseback charge across a plain, under a cloudy sky. A horse in harness races to the finish line, its nostrils distended, mane flying in the wind. A lone horse gambols across a meadow, hooves flying, tail flashing high like a gallant flag, turning in mid-flight with a graceful flow of energy that leaves the earthbound viewer breathless. A thoroughbred, with four white stockings, poses with a regal air, head up, turned toward something or someone unseen. Another horse, sensitive nostrils flaring, looks out from the canvas with soulful eyes, the white blaze on its face like molten lightning frozen in its visage. A lone Serb walks ahead of his horse, leading the animal across a sandy plain, the ornate saddle worn like a badge of honor atop the horse’s back. And, the pair of horses seems to be caught in a sudden flash of light, their affection for one another palpable, exquisite.
In the hands of artist Suzana Stojanović, a picture is not only worth a thousand words, she spends that amount, and more, on some of her paintings. She writes “stories” about the horses she draws and paints, but they are not stories in the traditional sense. They are prose poems, essays on life and love and the energy embodied in the universe of horses. These stories are as beautiful as her paintings, evoking deep feelings and tranquil reflections on what the artist sees and feels.

Suzana is an amazing artist. Not only does she delve into realism, but paints in photorealism and hyperrealism. There is an electromagnetism in the latter forms that vibrates not only in the mind, but in the deepest recesses of the human soul. Her prose poems reflect that same light and intensity but flow so naturally that she achieves a lasting effect as well as a deeper appreciation for both her poetic visions and her art. The complimentary effect embeds both the image and the prose deep into consciousness, giving a kind of mythic structure to her paintings and her prose.

The myth always masks a deeper meaning, a more profound sense of the true, and Suzana’s work achieves that level of intensity. I feel as I pour over her work that she may well be the modern reincarnation of the ancient Gallic goddess, Epona, the goddess of horses. The horse she paints is not Pegasus. It does not have wings. But, beneath the paintings and interwoven into her prose, Pegasus lives and flies. And, when the light is just right, you might see not only one of her horses in a moonlit meadow, but a unicorn in the garden. Such is her power as an artist.
Flying horse (Jory Sherman, the author of “The Ballad of Pinewood Lake”, the winner of a Spur Award from the Western writers of America for “The Medicine Horn” and a nominee for a Pulitzer Prize for “Grass Kingdom”)

~ The hyperreal works of Suzana Stojanović ~

As a hyperrealist painter, Suzana’s engaging works are at once noteworthy, extreme and compelling. Most painters in the photorealist genre have chosen urban landscapes, oversized faces and figures, neon signs, etc. as their signature motifs. Suzana Stojanović has instead concentrated her artistic efforts on horses. And not as one would imagine see horses, for she has personalized the animals in such a way as to totally mesmerize her viewers. Her masterful paintings and drawings are attentive to detail and full of visceral energy not unlike the work of Rubens or Titian.
And make no mistake about it. These are not artwork dripping with emotion. They are highly proficient hyperreal representations of the equine world that visually articulate the natural power and grace of these majestic animals. Each of her works are consistent as to proper positioning, subtle lighting, shading describing solidity of form, tonal balance, color perspective, depth of field, and natural movement.
The first time I viewed Suzana’s work it left a permanent and profoundly deep sensation in my core psyche that recognizably reinforced the universal need to be true to oneself in art as in life. Although her works are relatively divergent as to subject, they are not comprised of disparate styles. Each of her paintings is singularly true to hyperrealism in style and yet they all share a certain humility and softness. However, the humility and softness is not mere stylistic technique; it is Suzana Stojanović the artist.
For example, Silence transmutes a special feeling, one of bonding between the master and his majestic horse. The composition magnifies that relationship in the upward perspective, the expansive width and the palette used for the sky and desert. The saddle itself is bedazzling. Yet the glowing colors in it and throughout the figures establish movement also suggested by their measured stride. Were it not for the man and the natural setting, one would believe that the horse was a carefully crafted bronze statute gleaming under the lights. In clouds on the other hand, features an unusual transition of light in dust clouds created by the unrestrained subject animal. Together with the surrounding ominous darkness, they deliver explosive energy and movement.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you take the time to get to know her captivating hyperreal work, as through these fine paintings, she has much to share about life, love and true friendship with all of us.
▪ The hyperreal works of Suzana Stojanović (Denis Peterson, internationally recognized first generation hyperrealist painter whose early New Realist genre, Soft Focus Realism, was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in New York)

~ Painting exhibition of Suzana Stojanović ~

- The pride and breed are the themes of these beautiful works, whose author represents a fine combination of a lady and an artist, who at the same time nurtures literature, music and painting. With these words painter Dragan Sotirović opened a painting exhibition of horses in the gallery of the National University last Friday. Its author, Suzana Stojanović, was born in Vranje, but she lives and works in Niš. After she had finished High school of mathematics and technical science and High school of music, specializing in the violin, she studied literature even though painting remained her main passion. This extremely humble girl rarely speaks about her numerous domestic and international awards. Apart from the music festival awards and primary and secondary republic school competitions in match, physics and literature, she is also the youngest winner of the 7th September award in art of the city of Vranje. Maybe that was the crucial moment for her to devote herself to painting even though she is a graduate student of literature. - In order to paint a great painting, it is necessary to have knowledge of many fields, because that is the way of getting into the essence of what you want to present, says the artist who at the same time nurtures literature, music and painting. Literature and painting are the arts that complement each other and inspire each other, said this versatile artist. When asked who her role model when it comes to painting, this young artist firmly replied: Paja Jovanović. - He has a superb work. What he left behind is unique. You can spend hours looking at his work.
▪ Painting exhibition of Suzana Stojanović (S.L., “Slobodna reč”, weekly newsletter)

~ Portraits of horses ~

In a mysterious world of paintings portraits have always been the greatest challenge of all; silent guardians at the gates of the forbidden garden. Human nature can be seen both in the eyes and on the face of a man. The portrait is deprived of physical movement, but what makes it a masterpiece is the spiritual inner world that is already reflected on our faces and in our eyes for the whole eternity. The invention of camera has made the portrait painters almost disappear from the world of art.
In the last century, in which the spiritual was transformed into the material, it seemed that the ultimate challenge to paint the intangible attracts artists less and less. And then, at the end of the 20th century, a young woman decided to start painting portraits of horses. Her name is Suzana Stojanović and she has been living in the world of miraculous realism of winged Pegasus and proud Bukefal for years. 

- A horse has always been the inspiration for the artists. Leonardo da Vinci himself said that not only painting a horse was a challenge, but that it also took a lot of courage to accept it - Suzana tells us. Up to know she has painted more than two hundred and fifty oils on canvas. She is using the oil pastel technique at the moment which won her the admiration of Dragan Malešević Tapi himself. 
- It’s done on the cardboard, colors don’t mix and not the slightest mistake is allowed. The work keeps on for days and nights, but my love towards horses makes me forget my great effort and hard work. A horse can be beautiful, but if you don’t give it your heart and soul it will never look alive in the painting, it will only remain “beautiful”.  
Full of life and beautiful, Suzana’s portraits are horse psychology encyclopedia of its kind. Within vivid frames various moods of these long-legged animals are being captured by using a range of different colors, something that the greatest experts at the horses’ nature only feel intuitively but are often unable to express it. Suzana’s paintings can do that. It seems as if her horses spoke of their secret inner world which was galloping just beside our daily life and the world of oblivion, familiar to all of us, but indistinct as the thud of horses’ hooves in the blue distance, in the evening.
(Miroslav Popović, journalist and editor, The trotting almanac of Serbia, magazine “KAS” art)