Studio Visit with Milena Roglic

October 20th, 2015 by Laura Horne-Gaul


With Dupont Street on the rise as a new art mecca in Toronto, Milena Roglic has recently moved into a new studio in the neighborhood.


Since Roglic completed her MFA studies in 2014 her work has moved away from her personal history and more into observations of her immediate surroundings, still rooted in her direct experience with her environment. Roglic enjoys the tangible, physical process of appropriating things she see’s and in making them her own.


Roglic’s studio is strategic in its organization and her work is appropriately processed starting with quick pastel drawings or 8 x 10 inch print outs from digitally manipulated images that Roglic takes.


Nevertheless Roglic’s practice is very formal, rooted in Constructivism traditions and techniques. She is always experimenting with different applications and types of paint to create unique surface textures and compositions.


Laura Horne-Gaul: Who have been a few of your top living and dead artist influences?


Milena Roglic: In my youth and earlier on as a student I was influenced by El Lissitzky, Giacomo Balla and  Josef Albers. Most recently I have been really interested in Tomma Abts, Deborah Remington,  Helmut Federle and Mark Bradford.


LHG: Is your work is based on personal experiences. If so can you expand on a work and an experience as an example?


MR: Yes, my work is based on personal experiences and motivated by interactions and  observations of my immediate surroundings. For example, the concept for my painting, "The  Wrestler" came out of appropriating and reworking a commercial logo from a gas station sign  that I came across while walking in my neighborhood.


LHG: When did you decide that you wanted to be a painter?


MR: I have been painting and drawing since I was a child and pursued my studies in visual arts at a  community college then later on at university. I did not produce much work after my  undergraduate studies but then had regained interest around 2008‐9. Since then I made the  decision that I wanted to focus on painting again.


LHG: Your painting style, to me, feels very structured, do you leave anything to chance or is your process more premeditated?


MR: I agree, they are very structured and I am very interested in compositional dynamics. I always  have a starting point, whether it's a digital image, drawing or collage. I use these sources to  map out structures on the canvas, but there comes a point when the studies become vaguely  referenced and the painting transforms as unpredictable outcomes present themselves while  delving into application and medium. So opportunities for chance and surprise do take place  and are welcomed.


LHG: In your thesis, from just a quick read, your main theme is Urban spaces. From my initial feeling you focus more on urban decay and decline, is there a counterpoint to this theory?


MR: My MFA thesis work emphasized finding intrigue in disintegrating urban spaces. Since then my  most recent work (post grad school) deals with similar themes, but focuses more on the  painting process and creating visual tension out of opposing formal elements. For example, I  will pair a rough, gritty surface against something linear or geometric. The juxtaposition of  contrasting forms and textures generate agitation yet equally command each painting. To  achieve varying surfaces, I have been incorporating additional materials with oil medium such  as pastel, acrylic gouache and graphite. I have also been trying to take more risks with my new  work and as a result, the spaces are becoming more layered, dense and even complicated.


LHG: One of the questions that you ask in your thesis "Can precarious sensibilities exist within a painting?" I am curious if you have had any resolutions?

MR: Yes, I find that through my intensive research and investigation of materials, spatial and compositional relationships, it is the interaction of contradictory formal characteristics that heighten uncertain sensibilities and stimulate curiosity in the viewing experience.