Milena Usenik is being honoured again in her native Slovenia, but this time for her second outstanding career.
Once successful for the then-Yugoslavia at the Olympic games as a shot putter, taking part in Melbourne and Rome, she has since followed the painter’s path “I’ve travelled a long way as an artist, and many’s the time I’ve asked myself what exactly reality means for a painter. These questions have led me to change my style of painting on several occasions. At first I looked to Van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso, and these works helped form my approach to colour, which I still follow today. Then there followed a period of pop art and op art,” she says. She graduated from Ljubljana’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1965 and hasn’t looked back, but her pop art and optical art period was important to break with traditional painting and to advance in her research of form and format. But it was also her entry to modern fine art streams, bringing her to abstraction today, although natural reality is never far away, in details, or in colours. “Abstraction didn’t come to me overnight – I reached it step by step. First came an understanding of Matisse’s colour metaphors, which led me to the abstract painting” The Mestna galerija 1 / City Art Museum in the Slovenian capital collects nearly 40 years of Milena Usenik’s work under the title “Two-way Junctions, Paintings 1970-2008” until Feb 1st.