Ivan Grubanov was born in Belgrade in 1976 and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade in painting. In 2002 and 2003 he has been living in Amsterdam and working at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten on a bursary from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
Grubanov belongs to the young generation of Yugoslav and Serbian artists which grew up in a hermetically closed society but rebelled against the former regime, demanding freedom of expression, open communication with the world and new artistic experiments. Grubanov describes the experience of working within a society ´closed from all sides and by all parameters, strong international isolation from the outside and totally occupied media space by the regime inside, where art and culture were on the margins unless they proved useful for mass manipulation. In such circumstances, the artist becomes aware of his social role and is forced to act as a public figure within a strong political and social context, defending his independent position.´
Grubanov works in a wide range of artistic forms and media: video art, photography, installation, posters, computer art and comic strip. He has exhibited actively since 1997, initially in Yugoslavia including the International Biennial of Sculpture ‘Relations 00’ at Pancevo, the 10th BELEF (Belgrade Summer Festival) in 2000 and ‘The End of the Episode’ at SULUJ Gallery in Belgrade. He has also shown in Ljubljana, Slovenia at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th International Festivals of Young Independent Artists, ‘BREAK 21’. Significant exhibitions since 2001 include ‘Under Construction’ at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujadowsky in Warsaw; ‘Violence’ at the NSA Gallery in Durban, South Africa and several exhibitions in the Netherlands, notably ‘Fuse’ in 2003 at the Centre for Contemporary Art De Beyerd in Breda.
His period in the Netherlands opened up a new and unexpected area of work. ´In 2002, I took the chance and visited the trial of my former president (Milosovic case, ICTY, The Hague). Confronted with the man and the events which marked my life, I wanted to capture the intensity of that experience. The result is a series of over 200 drawings, made in the courtroom over a period of six months. At the same time, my parents in Serbia, following the direct broadcast of the trial on television, recognised my face in the audience, and they started to record each session.´ The final work ‘Self Portrait in the Courtroom’ integrates the recordings and drawings and completes Grubanov’s active role in the event.
Recent work in South Africa has also involved a documentary approach with a reconstruction of events, testimonies from witnesses of crime and a registration of Grubanov’s own involvement in the process through visual and audio recording.
Ivan Grubanov draws and publishes comic strips and cartoons in independent newspapers and magazines in Yugoslavia (Nasa borba, Gradina, Lavirint, Striper), Slovenia (Peace, Apokalipsa, Handyburger), Belgium (Beeldstorm) and Italy (Fagorgo). His comics are characterised by his distinguished painterly approach and expressive play on symbols, combining to make an original graphic technique. He won the award of the 30th October Salon in Pancevo for video artwork in 2000, a World Health Organisation award for a poster in 1999 and an award at Stripburger magazine in Slovenia in 1998.
Svetlana Mladenov, Curator of the Modern Art Gallery, Pancevo comments, ´Ivan Grubanov was noticed by art critics for his engaged and up-to-date artistic discourse. He attracted the attention of those artistic fractions which supported the vital stream in Serbian art and which emerged out of its own talents and needs. This stream lived and survived alongside mainstream art which was supported by the state. Therefore it possesses exceptional strength and vitality and initiates new and fresh ideas through its own creative efforts.´
Grubanov states, ´on the roots of tradition, in contact with art history and in struggle with the barriers of a closed society, the need of a Serbian artist was communication – to see himself as part of a larger community, not defined by borders, to act as a citizen of European cultural territory.´
Ivan Grubanov was shortlisted for the Visiting Arts/Spike Island International Fellowship 2001 nominated by Svetlana Mladenov of the Modern Art Gallery, Pancevo.