The attire in the heart and on the paintings.

In Venice, the exhibition “Identity” recently closed, featuring the works of three of our artists, as previously covered by “Vesti.” The exhibition garnered significant attention, and one of the three Serbian artists showcased was painter Ivana Bukovac. Born in Kruševac, married to Marko, an Italian with whom she has a son, she lives and creates in Padua. She passionately shared her life, artistic calling, and love for painting with “Vesti.”

Ivana Applies Colors with Precision

– It seems to me that I’ve always known that art is ingrained in my life’s path. From stories my closest ones tell, I’ve used drawing as a form of entertainment and play since I was little, and I received my first regional drawing award in the second grade. Everyone tells me that I inherited the gift of painting from my grandmother Kate, with whom I spent hours drawing, our favorite pastime. When it was time for high school, I knew my choice could only be art. Determined to persevere and with unwavering support from my parents, I moved to Leskovac, where I enrolled in the School of Textile and Design – Ivana recounts.

Support: With Visitors at the Exhibition in Venice

Support from Professors

The years of schooling in Leskovac proved to be crucial for her creativity, which developed in the right direction thanks to teachers who, as she says, were very versatile and professional.

Clear Guidelines on the Artistic Path at the Academy

– Those years also gave me a wonderful friendship with Marija, who later became my godmother at my wedding. She’s the person who supported me in all the important and crucial moments of my life – reveals the artist to “Vesti.”

Draga uspomena: Ivana je posebno vezana za brata Aleksandra

Cherished Memory: Ivana is particularly attached to her brother Aleksandar After completing high school, she moved to Venice, which became her second home for the next six years. The city that charmed her during her senior class trip became the place where she found herself and continued her artistic creation. With great support from her parents, she enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, where her artistic path gained clear direction. Venice represents cultural wealth for Ivana.

– It was a privilege for me to study in such a unique city. I cherish those years as the most beautiful experience in my life, and I’m grateful to my parents for the trust they had in me. During my studies, I found my artistic direction in exploring the folk costumes of Serbia and the Balkans. In a way, with these works, I manage to alleviate nostalgia for Serbia, my family, and loved ones. I began to explore and paint women in folk costumes, inspired by memories but also old photographs from the archives of the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade.

Childhood spent in Kruševac

Proud of Her Heritage

With one of the paintings from that series of women in costumes, Ivana participated in a very prestigious competition for young artists of the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation in 2008. She won the purchase award of the bank Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia.

– At that time, I exhibited in their gallery in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. And as nothing happens by chance, it was precisely during that exhibition that I first met my future husband, Marko, who was interning at the foundation at the time. Interestingly, he first encountered my work, and only later me as the author. A year later, during a new exhibition, our life story began. The year 2012 became very important not only because of my wedding to Marko but also because of many other significant exhibitions and awards I won.

Currently, Ivana creates in a studio located in Padua, which is part of an interactive space where architects and other creators work, further inspiring her.

– My paintings retain the symbolism of folk costumes, but I increasingly strive for a conceptual representation of memory and identity. My work is a striving for a kind of narrative where everyone can find a piece of their memory. Italy has become a second home for me, but I remain deeply connected to the country of my origin. I believe you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you come from. Being proud of your heritage is very important in constructing your own identity – Ivana Bukovac proudly emphasizes.

Final Strokes: Working on one of the paintings

Studio and Exhibitions

In 2010, Ivana won a studio for young artists for one year at the Bevilacqua Foundation’s competition, and her collaboration with that foundation ended with an exhibition in Turin the following year. That same year, she won first prize at the International Painting Competition in Gorizia.

She had her first solo exhibition in Belgrade in 2013 at the Atrium Gallery of the Belgrade City Library.

Thanks to that exhibition, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the Serbian audience, primarily through my works but also through numerous media reports about my work. In the following years, there were a series of solo and group exhibitions in Italy, Serbia, and Montenegro – our interlocutor notes.


In addition to painting, Ivana is also involved in professional makeup artistry.

Makeup is also a way for me to express my creativity. I’ve devoted a lot of time to that segment of my personal inventiveness, and I’ve completed various courses in Milan to perfect it.

With “Labyrinth”: She learned handicrafts from her grandmother Dragica

Crocheting Hair Strands

At the solo exhibition “Untitled” in 2015, Ivana’s artistic work expanded to installations (using hair) that speak of memory and collective identity.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I developed that concept, and that’s how “Labyrinth” was created, my work that I presented at the Identity exhibition last month in Venice. The inspiration for that work is the skill of handicrafts, crocheting, which I learned from my grandmother Dragica, and the wool yarn spun by my great-grandmother Dragoslava. I never forgot that female handicraft I learned as a girl. Crocheting hair is a ritual of connecting strands of anonymous hair identities that speak of the integration of memory and the people who are part of it – Ivana tells us.

Happily visiting Serbia: With her husband Marko in Belgrade

Family as a Source of Strength

My family, Marko, and my son Elia, who is two years old, are my greatest source of strength and energy for everything I create. Since he studied art history, Marko is always there to help and support me in art. Knowing my work, he is often my best consultant in creating texts for all exhibitions and competitions. Also, my parents, father Goran, mother Alma, brother Aleksandar, and sister Anđela are always there to support me in every way. Although we don’t all live close and are separated by hundreds of kilometers, I know I can always count on all of them – Ivana emphasizes.

With her father Goran

She adds that Marko had no contact with Serbia before he met her.

He visited Serbia for the first time in 2011 with me. His first impression was very nice, and what he found most interesting was our tradition and folklore. We visited several monasteries in central Serbia, and he liked the Manasija Monastery the most. He had the opportunity to try our cuisine several times, and his favorite dish is sarma. He loves the music of Goran Bregović, and we’ve been to two concerts in Padua and Guča, and we visit Serbia at least once a year.

With her mother Alma at the closing of the Identity exhibition

Special Emotion

Ivana says that the Identity exhibition is a project for Italy and will not be displayed in other countries.

For me, this exhibition represented a return to Venice, the city where I studied and lived for six years. The impressions are very positive; the exhibition was quite well attended. During the closing, I had the opportunity to talk to several Venetian artists and receive excellent advice for further work. I believe that an exhibition is always a good opportunity to hear different opinions and thus progress in work. I’m always glad to meet our people who have a special emotion when they see my works. Currently, I’m focused on future projects in Italy and Serbia and on international competitions throughout Europe.

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