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"I don't know what I'm doing", I used to tell my painting professor, Martin Reyna, and he used to answer me: "It's good Jelena, continue".

I have a Yugoslavian and French background, as an architect, urban planner and teacher. I am trained in architectural and urban acoustics and I am sensitive to the sounds of several languages. I have always drawn. I have been doing abstract painting for a few years.

Ever since I was a little girl, when I read or listened to someone speak, I completely visualized the content. If the context was unknown to me, my brain would invent it to complete "the movie". For a long time, I thought that everyone "saw" books, texts, dialogues. But not everyone sees the environment as I do. Furthermore, amplifying every word heard or read, seeing everything constantly, can be overwhelming and tiring. Or very intoxicating and stimulating, if the content tends towards joy and happiness.

But when I paint an abstract painting, I don't see anything. They are the only moments when I have no image in my head. The only one that exists is in front of me, on the canvas or on the paper. I am in the present moment, "the eternal present moment" and even though "I don't know what I am doing", I just paint. Where am I? Certainly, in alpha brain waves state. Or even in theta or gamma waves states?

What struck me on several occasions was that I could do a painting and a long time later, in another very distant place - its sequel, always abstract, without intentionally making the connection, of course. Or I could paint an abstract painting, and then realize that it revealed an experience: an encounter, a landscape, a sound, a memory, a desire. This genesis of the abstract image has fueled my thinking.

I have always been interested in memory (my master’s degree work in urban geography was on the mental representation in the reconstruction of cities after physical destruction on the examples of ex-Yugoslavian cities), as well as in the representation of the image in children's drawings. But here and now, I understand that accessing the subconscious to create (an abstract painting for example) is a field of incredible potential.

I am interested in the unconscious and subconscious mind. I practice mindfulness meditation. It allows me even more to transcend the object, and that influences my work. This process intrigues me. I am learning about the subject by reading and practicing. I am interested in the link between neuroscience and abstract art (the reduction in abstract art and the cerebral stimulus as evoked by Eric Kandel) and I would like to go further in this direction, to experiment the unconscious and this process of creation of abstract art.

Jelena Stamenković

2019_composition_oil pastel_paper_15x21


Jelena Stamenković

2018 and 2019

oil pastel on paper 15 x 21 cm each


Memory and the unconscious in the creative process.

These two paintings were produced six months apart,

in two different cities and countries, without having attempted to compose or connect them.


There is no coincidence.

click on the painting for the view in the gallery

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