Mladen Ćajić is a painter from Sokolac. He graduated from the Painting Department of the Sarajevo Fine Arts Academy. He has worked for seven years as art teacher in the elementary school in Sokolac. He took up painting as a boy, and his earnest desire had been to enrol in the arts academy, and this is his greatest passion.
In general, painting is my greatest passion, and mostly do paintings, but I also pursue sculpture and drawing, but it is all inter-related. I have some other hobbies, I dabble in graphic design, Photoshopping and some similar photomontages.
Have you had showings of your works?
Yes. To date I have had two independent exhibitions. One was in Sarajevo, at the Fine Arts Academy, and the other was here in Sokolac, at the town gallery. And then there were many group exhibitions. Among the most significant ones I should mention the Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, which was an exhibition of the students of the Sarajevo Fine Arts Academy. I also took part in the Biennial of Miniatures in Gornji Milanovac, where, out of some 1000 artists, about 250 were selected and my works were shown at that exhibition. In the main, I have had a lot of collective showings, I participated in art colonies on the Trebević, in Novi Sad (Serbia) etc.
It is almost impossible to make a living from painting.
Well, sadly, the situation here is that it is not that highly appreciated. I have a sense that our audiences are, so to speak, not emancipated enough to value such things. Without an additional job, and as I mention I work as a teacher, without that, one could not live from painting. In these parts, this is at present more like a hobby, you paint a bit to indulge your passion, and that’s all.
I asked whether there are potentially talented painters in Sokolac.
Yes, there are. I managed to discover that through my work with the children. There are certainly a lot of talented kids, who have a gift, who may start out interested in the beginning, but when the time comes to choose a profession, whether a trade, or a secondary school, they generally give it up, because they are aware that the chances for making a living out of it are slim. Although I try to guide them a bit in that direction, probably out of some desire to see them get the most out of what they can do. But somehow, the environment ends up pushing them in other directions.
I asked him about his plans for the future, i.e. what he would like to do.
Well, in general, my greatest desire is to be able to paint for a living, to support myself by my art. I am gradually moving in that direction, but we still need to see what the future brings.
As far as leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina, did you consider it, and could you perhaps fulfill your wishes and plans if you left?
Certainly I thought about it, as most young people, who think about going abroad to try to achieve something more there than they can here.
I feel that, in the art field, it is a bit harder to „make it“ out there, abroad. Because, naturally, every nation has its artists, and I doubt that anyone is waiting for us to get there and start producting art, but you would still have to struggle. That is a bit harder. But I do have some plans, so we shall see.