The Serbian artist Andrej Josifovski, aka Pijanista (The Pianist) is best known for his large scale murals and installations that often comment on the Serbian and international pop culture. He is also the founder of Runaway street art festival in Belgrade’s Bežanijska Kosa and Lower Dorćol neighborhoods. Andrej’s vision is to create an open air museum in Bežanijska Kosa neighborhood and to invite different local and foreign artists to leave their mark on the facades of Belgrade.
Through his pieces, the artist always seeks to send a straightforward message, expressed in a beautiful way. As he explains himself, the narrative and the expression of a piece of art should be in complete harmony. Drawing his inspiration from current events, he always chooses the spot for his pieces carefully so that the idea could get its proportional frame. For him, the process of creation is constantly running, seeing the open spaces as an ongoing invitation for intervention.
Pijanista's early pieces were done in spray paint, starting with addressing great people in Serbian history and then turning to addressing people more directly. Whatever the piece he works on, he always seeks to send truthful messages in order to provoke true feelings from the public.
Here are Pijanista's most famous pieces created in Belgrade.
Featured image: Andrej Josifovski Pijanista. Photo credit: Nebojša Babić. Images courtesy the artist.
Coinciding with the day of the opening of Marina Abramović's exhibition Cleaner in Belgrade, Pijanista has installed Golden Flower, an 8-meters-high sculpture which recalls an object we all have in our homes - a toilet brush. The artist described the sculpture, which was facing the downtown Belgrade, as a combination of Banksy's and Jeff Koons' practice.
Jokingly, he explained that "we live in the Golden Age, so we really need a good cleaning". Additionally, around hundred smaller sculptures have been installed at important places around the city, such as the main public square, the Kalemegdan Fortress, the city hall, etc. The whole initiative was executed guerrilla-style, without necessary permits, but with a lot of enthusiasm.
The work New Faith, depicting a crucifixion, appeared on a busy crossroad in New Belgrade, just under a traffic camera. Created by Pijanista in large-scale and painted in gold, it lasted only a few hours before it was taken down by the authorities. The work referred to the omnipresence of surveillance cameras and the way boundaries between a public and private space became blurred. At the same time, the artist called the public to take part in "mapping the new faith", referring to the places around the city where surveillance cameras were installed. In the accompanying text, the artist explained that the crucifixion can take place anywhere to the thousands of martyrs - the homeless, the poor and all the society misfits.
Featured image: Andrej Josifovski Pijanista - New Faith, 2020, Soultime media
Addressing the racial discrimination and social inequality that exists in every corner of the world, Golden Seesaws were installed on dumpsters, which life and child’s play in slums depend on. As the artist explained, "even though we live in a so called Golden Age of our civilization, Golden Seesaws show that it’s just a word play and that the inequality on a seesaw is nothing to play with." Mapping the poorest city areas, the project stands up for equality among people and social justice for all. In the accompanying text, the artist wrote:
Who knows, one day they might get lucky and be part of a barefoot commercial for famine where they’d get soap bubbles to blow and lollipops to lick firsthand. Until then, they’ll be dreaming of a fairy getting them a seesaw on their dumpster so their play can be fun and joy. Why not, they’re our children, too.
Featured image: Andrej Josifovski Pijanista - Seasaw for surplus children, 2020.
The installation Save Our Home was made of 4000 disposed plastic bottles arranged in the Sava river. The floating arrangement showed a portrait of Jovan Memedović, a Serbian TV host and journalist who is also a passionate environmentalist. Part of the Cleaning project and coinciding with the World Rivers Day, Pijanista's work rose from the wish to raise awareness about the importance of saving the environment as well as recycling waste as the way to achieve the objective. After watching in disbelief all the waste the river carried, the artist collected it to create this work that would show that the beauty of a river is something worth cherishing. At the end of the project, the bottles were taken out of the river and prepared for recycling.
Featured image: Andrej Josifovski Pijanista - Save Our Home.
Part of the project Golden Friday and the series Golden Age, the installation Keep Light was placed in front of the city parliament in Belgrade. Made out of the metal framework and 1500 golden lamps, it addresses a range of issues in the city - from questionable monuments and fountains being installed to the destruction of trees, rivers and architecture. As Pijanista explained, the golden lamps symbolize the glamour of the city Christmas lights while medical treatments for children are being crowdfunded through sms campaigns. For this reason, the work was auctioned and all the funds were donated to charities.
Featured image: Andrej Josifovski Pijanista - Keep Light.