Interview – Dagmar Franolić – Žvacet, No. 2

Here is an interview with Dagmar Franolić by Igor Gržetić published in Žvacet, the Krk monthly newspaper for the quality of life – No. 2 in January 2009.

I Have to Paint, It Makes Me Happy

The works of Dagmar Franolić were part of the recently closed exhibition Krk Painters to Their City. Her paintings prove that in the island ambience, especially the landscape, she finds an inexhaustible source of her own inspiration. Igor Gržetić talked to her…

I.G.: How long does your adventure of artistic research of the town and the island of Krk last?

D.F: When first came to Krk in 1981 from the substantially bigger city of Munich I was immediately delighted with the old town Krk and its narrow streets, while on the island I was most impressed by the boulders and of course by the sea, the sea, the sea… Then I took a lot of photos because it was a rather easy and quick way to gather impressions, which in my case simply comes from the desire to capture beauty. Then in 1982 I moved permanently to the island and finally in 1985 I took a brush in my hands. I had my first solo exhibition in Omišalj in the JANAF building in 1989, so I can say that I have been intensively painting for twenty years.

I.G.: What moments, situations or motives do you find most inspiring?

D.F.: When I begun to paint my favorite motifs were narrow city streets, vaults, steps, shutters and chimneys. Now I mostly find inspiration in frequent walks and, provided I am relaxed and happy, I believe I would always find something that would inspire me to paint. Therefore, it does not matter whether it is a sight of some beautiful reflection on the sea surface, a wandering leaf carried by the wind, a beautiful stone structure that hides thousands of compositions and colors, whether it is a stormy south wind or a light Bonaca, but most important an inner desire to transfer some of that immense beauty to paper. It is the pure love of color, line, surface and composition. Something motivates me to work, something that encourages the bird to sing. It’s in my nature and I feel happiest when I find time to paint and I don’t give up if I it immediately goes the way I want.

I.G: How would you describe your own artistry, your own expression, in a few sentences?

D.F.: It’s hard for me to describe it. I start from the reality that surrounds me, I try to find something that touches me and through a lot of sketching I throw out everything that is less important. When I finally start to turn everything into watercolors, something usually escapes and something completely new emerges. I like to divide images into those that are painted and those that are created. I prefer the ones that are created, because I feel completely alive in improvisation.

I.G.: What are you currently working on? Are you preparing a surprise for us?

D.F: I started photographing trees last winter. In one year I collected 1320 photos of twelve different trees. They are all on the island of Krk and I visited them regularly, sketched and began to distinguish the bark, leaves, surroundings… What I will do with this I do not know yet, but something will surely come out of it! When it’s done I’ll make sure it’s presented to the public in one of the island’s galleries but I don’t know yet when that might be.

I.G.: Do you think there is a fabric in the city that we can call its art scene?

D.F: I think it would be too much to talk about an art scene. It is true that there are a lot of painters in the city and that we present ourselves at the Christmas exhibition once a year, but we do not usually hang out much together concerning our works. Everyone is doing their own thing, looking for their own path and expression. The art scene is for me when artists look for new forms and paths together, each in their own way but still together. I think we should refer here to young artists, who presented themselves to our and their cities last year. This is more like an art scene. Artists are always ahead of their time and that is why they are often not understood. I feel a bit like a dinosaur, but that doesn’t bother me. I am honest in my work and that is the most important thing to me.

I.G.: How important do you think the interaction between artists, and artists in general, is?

D..F: This is individual. Each of us can learn from others, so it is important to introduce ourselves to others, to follow what others are doing, to be willing to share a few cooking secrets, but in the end each of us will paint ourselves. That applies to us dinosaurs, let others forgive me!

I.G.: And a message to readers for the end…

D.F.: The message to readers is one big plea: Have understanding for us artists, it’s not easy for us. We often have to be brave because it’s easy to criticize and sometimes even make fun of us, but nevertheless we have to paint because it makes us happy! And another very important thing: let’s try to keep our island picturesque and beautiful, so that our old city streets don’t turn into windows of air conditioners and illuminated advertisements, because then we would lose a lot!