Photo by Iva Jurić

Željko Beljan (b. 1984, Vukovar) is a visual artist working with textile. He completed his MA in New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2021. His topics of interest are contemporary craft and soft arts, folk art and outsider art, anthropology and ethnology, new materialism and fiction.

In his artistic practice Željko focuses almost exclusively on handicraft and its position within contemporary art practices, exploring textile and handicraft techniques as an artistic medium. Handicraft has been rooted in his family for generations ― traditional techniques were taught to him by his mother who was taught by her mother and so on. In fact, handicraft has always been present in his life, but it was only through researching contemporary craft that he realized its power and its interesting position that balances between everyday functional objects and art objects.

He makes his textile installations using traditional weaving, knotting and embroidery techniques. He presents all those techniques in both finished and unfinished forms, ie forms in the process of making, laid bare and exposed. As a process-led artist, he likes to reveal things that are concealed in traditional handicraft. 

His works are mostly not pre-planned; except for the technique, everything is improvised, and that improvisation allows him to make the objects a vessel for research. While working, he is also researching, so that various new findings in the research are intertwined with each other in the work itself. 

Dislocating handicraft from the realm of everyday life is something that attracted Željko the most in his practice. The gap between institutional and pastoral hobby art that is made for self-satisfaction rather than the public is the gap he wants to bridge in his practice. 

Although his practice is quite lonely, he likes to communicate, debate, exchange ideas and learn from other artists and their experiences.

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1.-2. Process (photo by Iva Jurić); 3.-8. Photo by Sanja Bistričić
Artist statement

Thinking through... craft? Isn't craft something mastered in the hands, not in the mind? Something consisting of physical actions, rather than abstract ideas?

Well, it all depends.

                          − from Glenn Adamson's Thinking through Craft (2007)

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