Jana Vasiljević

Jana Vasiljević (b.1990)

Artist statement

Black lines filled with a sense of humor.

It was April 22nd, 1915 and Anna Vandewalle was a tiny, freckled girl in a flower pattern dress living on a farm in Boezinge. It is spring and you can smell disaster in the air. Well, very soon you will literally smell it. Because this is the day German soldiers will release mustard gas on the front line, letting the chemical cloud get to everybody in the area. And the front line was only a kilometer from the farm where Anna was feeding the chickens. Anna couldn’t know that very soon soldies will start dying on the heaps of hay on their land, while mother will try to help them with handkechiefs soaked in kow milk. Anna, of course, also didn’t know that mustard yellow would be one of my favourite colours.

There goes helter-skelter.

Biggest part of the 90’s I spent in Belgrade playing DOOM. The country was at war and I was sitting on my dad’s lap, pressing ‘jump’ and ‘toggle weapons’. And lord, was I scared. Not for the bombs outside, that wasn’t scary as it was the best part of my life, seeing that it was spring and I didn’t have to go to school. But the game was scary – it had fire monsters, sculls, giant spiders, pixelated zombie soldiers (which were much more terrifying than the real soldiers outside).

Tolstoy said “Happy families are all alike; however, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This goes for a huge deal of European families, everywere you will find stories of familiy history repeating itself. For me this repetition in my own family provides great material for a graphic novel. A storie of two girls, from the same female bloodline, growing up in the same sort of terror almost a hunderd years apart. But also, and I really want to stress this, about the, you could say, unawarenes and nonchalance of being a child, even in that situation.

I don’t play DOOM anymore. Now I draw villains, and make stories about a war I wasn’t a part of, and another war I don’t know if I even remember.

Boom! Goes the colourful explosion.

About the artist

Jana Vasiljević was born in Belgrade in a belge-serbian family and currently resides in Gent (Belgium), where she works as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. She is also a co-founder and editor of the Tieten Met Haar collective and small-press publishing house, with the aim to publish and promote works of other emerging artists in Belgium as well as abroad.

Jana Vasiljević’s residency is realised in collaboration with The Finnish Comics Society..