EUGEN VARZIĆ

"Everything that limits one’s feeling of freedom should be changed".

Eugen Varzić, is a professional artist and has been working as one for almost thirty years. Along with
painting, he’s been educating students who plan to study fine arts in the future, as well as

illustrating and mosaic on the side.
Eugen Varzić was born and raised in Slavonski Brod, a city in the eastern part of Croatia in 1972. He
completed his elementary and high school education there, and it was during this time that he was
introduced to art and took his first steps in an artistic direction.


At 8 years old, his childhood was interrupted by moving from his small neighborhood to a big city.
And unfortunately, in the turbulent 90s, he had to leave Slavonia to serve in the military during the
Homeland War, afterwards he enrolled in a university in Rijeka, which completely altered his
worldview.
In the end, Eugen Varzić never went back to Slavonia. Since he wasn’t planning on returning home,
he realized his childhood dream of living near the sea. Currently, you can find him in a little
neighborhood, named Kukci, in the western part of Istria. Today, Eugen Varzić is a father of two, his
daughter Eva Ramona (21) and son Ego (15), and is married to his wife Romana who has always
shown him great support and has been a part of his creative process since the early beginnings. 


Eugen Varzić proves that there are no boundaries or limits in the world of art and creation. There is
something beautiful and enchantingly eerie about his pieces, a mystery enveloping you somehow.
Partially because Varzić has quite a talent for capturing the eyes, something, at times, inimitable.
The subtlety of a glance or the fierceness of a glare, he brings it to life with ease and expertise.
Eugen Varzić’s paintings contain a wondrous story anxiously awaiting to be told.


Q.  Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it. 
A. 
 I paint life. My focus has always been in figuration, realism. Every day is a new story, a new
challenge a new fight. As a motif, I tend to choose people around me. Since the early days, I have
been infatuated with the works of old masters and their skills and techniques.
When I look back, I realize that maybe I focused on realism because it was the closest solution to the
idea of creating something different, something that others could not or would not. It was a way to
challenge myself. I did spend a short while focusing on the technique and the processes behind
creating the artwork rather than the art itself. On my newer pieces, I focus on the message, on the
psychological, moral and ethical values I'd like to represent, on the internal struggles the models
may carry in them. In these paintings, we get to see the process as it is, raw and unfiltered,
unperfected. You get to learn a lot through one’s specific “handwriting”, which comes out during the
painting process, the trail, I, as a painter leave with the brush, alongside a couple of accidents and
messy strokes.
This series I’ve been working on since 2017 to date has had a great echo and media attention, but it
has also solidified me on my distinctly individual creative journey. When I started working on it and
thinking about it, I realized that it would be a “take no prisoner” working principle. I went to work
and studied with the best in the world, made significant shifts and contacts. My sources and
teachers are different from the environment in which I live and create.

The feeling was fantastic and gave me the strength for even more and better things. And most
importantly - it gave me the feeling that anything is possible.
Staying in Spain was literally a conversion. Since I already had considerable experience and
knowledge on my back, it was not easy letting myself go and learning all over again. It was one big
“spring cleaning” in my artistic expression. It all started in 2015 when I first saw a painting of Antonio
Garcia Lopez in person. It was then that I began to make contacts with the Spanish art scene and
discovered exceptional authors, workshops, galleries, and projects. My interest led me to Eloy
Morales, and later to Antonio Garcia Lopez himself, and so I had the opportunity to learn from
world-class painters of figuration.


Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A.
As time passed, I’ve learned that one role is to encourage young people to be creative, not only in
the arts but in general, in any field of activity. We as artists need to share our knowledge, set an
example, where we show it’s possible to love what you do. It’s easier for artists to do so since we
have an advantage. Art transcends languages, there are no barriers ... we live absolute freedom.
What bothers me personally is the excessive activism in art, the meddling of politics, because there
are other better and stronger channels for that kind of expression. To me, it is a type of desecration
of art. We are witnessing this time in our lives anyway, and to fill the whole testimony with elements
that belong to daily politics, trendy issues of ecology, and then when the curators of the projects
make it even more complicated, society turns its head away from the whole story. You can feel
who’s on the path of living for art. It is like the air we breathe, which gives us the strength to go
beyond such things and blaze for the real goal.


Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A.
Staying with my grandfather in the countryside. I used to spend the summer holidays with him. I
still remember all his stories, all our games. He instilled in me the values I hold on to today.
Everything was different: smells, food, mornings. I often painted him and the scenes that bind me to
that time of my life. He was a great guy, as a young man he played the violin, fixed bicycles, was a
hairstylist, had a lot of animals, and he loved my grandmother immensely. I can still hear his voice
telling me fairy tales.


Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A.
I always wanted to be a painter. Painting and drawing were initially an excuse for not having to
learn math or proper writing. Something I used to try and impress my friends with and get the
attention I needed. As a child, I just wanted to be away from the systems that tend to be forced
upon us and the only freedom I felt was when I painted. I was a dyslexic kid, and my salvation from it
was art.
 
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A.
The first thing I did, that I consider a work of art, was a portrait of Comrade Tito, the communist
president of Yugoslavia, in pencil on the school desk. I was maybe 8 years old. Since I was good at
art, the teachers immediately knew who did it and accused me of destroying school property. But,
since it was a portrait of a dear president, no one dared to punish me, because by doing so they
would put themselves in danger of being against the system. This was the first time I got noticed as a
good draftsman. The truth behind it was that, at the time, all the media were full of Tito and his
image, and I simply reacted.

Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A.
In high school. I did not enrol in art school right away, but I enrolled in technical school, because
most of my friends at that time went there. It was a school that created workers for a big factory
next to my house, a school where a good portion of the education took place in said factory.
Learning in these conditions, I quickly realized that art was a way out for me, a type of freedom from
the expectations set out for young people then. I didn’t have many options when it came to leaning
art outside of school, so I applied to evening painting classes run by an older artist, and with him I
took my first painting steps. And just to mention, we only did traditional watercolour, but then it
fulfilled me so much, it turned into something that gave me a sense of peace, happiness, meaning.


Q. What does your art aim to express?
A.
My pictures are an expression of my communication with the present. In the claustrophobic space
of virtual worlds, I do something endemic, traditional, and therefore strange. My paintings are a
personal reflection on the changes that a new time will impose on us, while at the same time
questioning the values we fight for that will make no sense in the near future, when we connect
online and become strictly controlled beings. For example, what will happen to us after the
Neuralink project comes to fruition? With my paintings, I am currently trying to cross the
space where tradition meets the new age. While painting, I often listen to or watch documentaries
about all spheres of human life, except art. Why? Because it's a type of source, and through
absorbing this info, I find the best ways to ask myself the questions that can be shown or maybe
even answered in the paintings. I find that one of the times I completely surrender to a painting and
its concepts is when I immerse myself and the models in the story. We go through many expressions
and poses, and I often put models in heavy makeup so that they can embody certain roles, whether
that be a physical one or an interpretation of a situation or an emotion. The painting process begins
long before the brush is picked up. For me, painting is like breathing, and so it’s hard to define when
the idea for a painting actually starts.


Q. What medium(s) do you work with?

A. Right now, oil and a canvas, the classics. I worked with acrylic for many years, but by changing the
approach, everything changed, from the type of paint I use to the substrate, the brushes, the
lighting. It’s possible that at some point I will return to acrylic. I’m constantly looking for the next
thing, next medium, that will help me express my ideas the way I want them to be expressed.


Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A.
My clear and open views, that I talk about without much hesitation. Sometimes, I admit, I even
get arrogant, impatient. But, as they say, your character is your destiny, so I try and catch myself
when I get like that. I try to live a good life, without paying much attention to or endangering others.


Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A.
My social life to a large extent. I have learned to be alone and I find it hard to fit in with the
masses.


Q. Who are your biggest influences, are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A.
I am inspired by talented, creative people. It doesn't matter what field they come from. I have
role models, but they are not exclusively from the world of art. For example, N.Tesla is an inspiration
to me, then Felix Baumgartner, Mel Gibson, Mate Rimac, Niki Lauda, Screamin Jay Hawkins, Korado

Korlevic, Elon Musk, Gordon Ramsey, Spike Lee, Desmond T. Doss, and athletes like Richie McCaw or
Charles Leclerc. I try to get to know the worlds of such people as much as possible. When I’m
preoccupied with new paintings, I avoid looking at other painter’s work because visual information
can distract me. Sometimes, I also subconsciously start copying, so I must take a few steps back to
find myself again. Colleagues too. I appreciate their efforts, but at the same time, we all have similar
fears and expectations, so it creates comfortable and familiar surroundings. I am more interested in
pushing myself out of my comfort zone by asking how a lawyer, an astrophysicist or veterinarian
thinks, what are their thought processes and how can I learn from them in order to improve myself?


Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A.
The job of an artist is the loneliest job in the world. Full stop. They don't teach you about that at
the academy. It’s hard sometimes to find common ground among artists, but also, I rarely like to talk
about my art, I find that everything I wanted to say about my art I said through my paintings. It’s
possible that others perusing this career feel the same, so it just creates one vicious cycle. To
counteract this monotony, I keep myself busy by riding my motorcycle, exercising. I travel a lot with
my wife so that’s one of the things I miss most in this lockdown which has further amplified this
lonesome career. 


Q. Apart from your art, what do you love doing?
A.
When your profession covers both your hobbies, free time and moments of relaxation, it is not
easy to focus on other interests. My studio is in the garden behind the house, so it is integrated into
everyday family life. We have lunch on the terrace of the studio, my daughter and her friends gather
there, we train in the studio, homework gets done on my workbench. I train regularly with my wife,
so I learned to love the extra strength and focus I find in it. It may be unusual for a painter, but I
rarely drink alcohol, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, and my only dangerous vice is riding the
motorcycle. I love high speeds. The engine turns off cell phones, notifications, almost anything that
interferes with concentration and you basically have an unusual blend of adrenaline and peace.
Something like active meditation.


Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A.
It used to be, "When I succeed, I will be twice as happy. Because of those who believed and those
who doubted." But now I have come to terms with the world, and all that matters to me is to paint.
Where the paintings will be exhibited, whether I’ll sell them or give them away ... It doesn’t really
trouble me. I am in constant competition with myself. The feeling of creating something that’s
completely mine is what guides me from day to day. To have an infinite sense of freedom, and at the
same time responsibility, that you are free to choose when, where and how your art will go out into
the world. This has been my choice for many years, even though the environment in which I create
has in some ways "directed" me towards that choice, I am still immensely grateful for it.
Something that also plays into this philosophy is that wherever I was, I have never felt at home. The
feeling of not belonging imposes a high level of work discipline, giving your all, a kind of pressure for
constant learning and traveling. When you aren’t in the mainstream of the art scene, you are in a
space that’s only yours and that follows your rhythm. I find that this way of going about in the art
scene makes better use of creative energy.


Q. What does "success" mean to you?
A.
To me it’s the ability to have time to get up in the morning and go to the studio. Everything else is
a consequence of that. Success is having the time to appreciate the freedom that I have with being

an artist full time. Learning to appreciate the privilege of my own self-expression and continuing to
try and be humble, patient, to know how to listen and give.


Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A.
The things I learned that mean the most to me, I learned from the worst places. During the war, I
realized that you should never become too comfortable or too stagnant because life goes by fast and
that everything you can do today, should be done today because who knows if you’ll be able to get
to it tomorrow. I have been living in this tempo for thirty years, bettering myself everyday as if every
day was the last. When you realize that life waits for no one and you build this rhythm, I’ve learned it
is important to have people around who understand and support you. My family means a lot to me
and I am infinitely happy to have them with me.


Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A.
My grandfather used to say: “Worry about your own yard, keep it clean and have it the way you
like it. Don’t worry about others.” He taught me how to focus on myself, to be strict with myself, and
to not spend my energy thinking of what others think of me.


Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to learn. Don’t stop being curious and never forget how to
play.

 

AR[ T ]MOIRE