When a leading gallerist handed his business card to Gabrijela Iva Polic at her graduate show in 2013, she was a long way from her childhood world. Growing up in Sydney, her family had little knowledge of the contemporary art world and were in no way connected to the arts, although they were supportive of her all the same, she says. Her father was a carpenter and from an early age, Gabrijela would follow him about wearing his spare nail bag, hoping for a task to help. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would become an artist,” she says. “I’ve always appreciated art and beauty. Always have been creative, always making little bits and bobs. I enjoyed making; it was my solace. But it was nothing I ever envisioned I could make something out of.” After getting a regular job and leading a regular life, Gabrijela took the plunge and applied for art school. Since graduating from COFA, she has worked on a range of projects, including creating a series of works for Penny Farthing Design House. However, for the past year she’s been focussed on her current exhibition at The Hughes Gallery, which opens tonight and runs until December 20.
Which five words best describe you? Indecisive - a painter must ponder; disciplined - I can paint or draw for 14 hours a day, seven days a week; undisciplined - but when it comes to an exercise regime or diet I'll fall off the wagon on day three; colour-lover - full appreciation to a great colour combination; pattern-maker - I could paint and draw them all day. Bliss.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I met Evan Hughes of The Hughes Gallery at the opening of my grad show in 2013. We chatted a little, he gave me his business card and then we caught up a couple months later. Evan asked if I would like to be part of a group show in the gallery which consisted of young Sydney-based painters. It ran alongside another exhibition they were holding of Chicago-based artists. Of course, I accepted. It was the first time I exhibited properly so I was quite nervous. The gallery has represented me ever since and I’m now having my first solo show. The plan is now to just keep creating.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Draw every day. Draw as much as you can. It keeps the mind a buzz with creativity. One thing will always flow from another and something amazing will eventually emerge.
What’s your proudest career achievement? My first solo show opens in less than a week. I’m buzzing with excitement and telling anyone who’ll listen.
What’s been your best decision? By far it was the decision to go to art school. It completely challenged my thinking and ideas. I think I did quite poorly in the first couple years, both conceptually and in the work itself. It wasn’t until my third year until I began to get a grasp of concept and ideas, and began to form some sort of language with my work. If I never made that decision I don’t think I’d be at any level to exhibit.
Who inspires you? Any creative with a genius mind who has a strong will and determination. Be it an artist or designer of any sort - there are too many to list.
What are you passionate about? Wonder and beauty - in both the natural and manmade worlds. From a gorgeous vine thats crept up and completely covered a tree trunk to an intricately carved piece of stone created by a human with simple tools hundreds of years ago. There’s so much beauty about and I’m continuously searching for it.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? David Hockney, the master.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Live, work and solo show in New York. Dream.
What are you reading? The signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert.