F5: Misha Milovanovich on Her Serbian Roots, Psychology + Film

01.26.24 | By
F5: Misha Milovanovich on Her Serbian Roots, Psychology + Film

Growing up in the country meadows of Belgrade, Serbia, while cultivating greenhouses on her family’s farm laid a solid foundation for artist Misha Milovanovich’s enduring connection with plants, animals, and nature. Her grandmother, the village shaman, shared her knowledge of plant medicine, healing, and connecting with the land through old Slavic mythology and beliefs. Now living in London, Milovanovich works across several mediums, from sculpture to painting, and digital art while pulling from these lived experiences, learned techniques, jokes, and memories.

Milovanovich knew she was meant to become a creative maker at age 10, when struck with a passion for filmmaking. Cinema’s power to transport audiences to different times and worlds captivated her and brought a realization that she, along with her friends, could do the same thing.

“The birthplace of my creativity lies in the heart of Kinoteka in Belgrade, a cinematic haven that ignited my love for storytelling and the magic of the silver screen,” Milovanovich reminisced. “This was the place when I was growing up in Belgrade that the avant-garde gathered.”

light-skinned woman with long black hair wearing all black sits in a chair next to an abstract silver sculpture

Misha Milovanovich with IPY sculpture

The artist’s latest anthropomorphic sculptures include these influences, as well as reverence for the styles of Miro, Picasso, David Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and Noguchi. The six pieces made their debut in the Sensory Synergy exhibition last year, Misha’s first show at Mucciaccia Gallery, curated by Catherine Loewe. Each sculpture pulls from cubism, surrealism, humor, and references to the natural world. Another theme that runs through her work – one of tension held between order and chaos, rational structure, and spontaneity – can be felt throughout.

But there’s yet another element that adds to her artistic style – psychology. Misha spends a lot of her time observing society and its view toward desire, lust, and body image. “Delving into the unspoken realm of human behavior opens doors to a deeper understanding of individuals and situations, presenting a valuable tool for navigating the complexities of human interaction and psychology,” she shared. “Harnessing this talent enables me to read between the lines of body language, gestures, and expressions, uncovering subtle nuances that often go unnoticed.”

Today, Misha Milovanovich is popping in for Friday Five!

1. Mother

A pivotal figure in my journey to where I am today is undoubtedly my mother, a master craftswoman and seamstress. Growing up during a period of economic constraints, particularly the challenges of communism, acquiring nice things was a rarity. In response to this limitation, my mother and I embarked on a collaborative journey into creativity. Her expertise in the art of sewing became a catalyst for our shared endeavors. Together, we not only crafted clothes but also cultivated a profound bond through our creative collaborations. My mother’s resilience, skill, and unwavering support have not only shaped my appreciation for craftsmanship but have also been instrumental in fostering a sense of creativity and resourcefulness that extends far beyond the realm of fabric and thread.

black and white image on a film set

2. Amarcord by Federico Fellini

The first piece of art that left a lasting impression on me was the movie Amarcord by Federico Fellini. This captivating film transported me into a world of vivid imagery, unforgettable characters, costumes, faces, interesting locations, human pathos, and emotions. Fellini’s masterful storytelling, combined with his unique visual style, created an indelible impact on my artistic sensibilities. Amarcord ignited my passion for cinema and the power of storytelling, leaving me with a deep appreciation for the ability of art to evoke deep emotions and connect with audiences on a profound level.

black and white image of a man with black ruffled hair

3. Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté stands out as my favorite psychologist, seamlessly intertwining his profound insights with my own innate passion for understanding the intricacies of human behavior. Just as I unravel the unspoken nuances by interpreting body language and non-verbal cues, Maté delves into the depths of human psychology with a compassionate and holistic approach. Maté’s work, marked by his extensive knowledge in addiction, trauma, and the mind-body connection, resonates deeply with my own exploration of the psychological landscape. His ability to uncover the roots of human struggles and his emphasis on the significance of early life experiences align with my belief in the interconnectedness of emotions, behaviors, and past traumas.

overhead view of a cluttered desk

4. Desk

When inspiration strikes and ideas flood my mind, my preferred method of recording and organizing them involves quick expressive drawings, which I later use for creation of detailed maps. I translate my thoughts into visual representations, sketching out concepts, and connections. This visual mapping not only captures the essence of each idea but also serves as a roadmap guiding me toward the final project. Through this visual process, I can see the interplay of elements, identify potential challenges, and visualize the progression from concept to completion. It not only helps in clarifying my thoughts but also provides a tangible and structured overview, ensuring that the creative journey is both coherent and comprehensive.

book on a white background

5. Leonardo Da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings

At the age of six, I embarked on a four-year adventure fueled by determination and curiosity, all to acquire my most treasured possession – a book on the legendary Leonardo da Vinci. It was exhibited at the book fair in Belgrade and it is a beautifully illustrated book of about 600 pages. In the pages of Leonardo Da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings, I discovered the extraordinary life and contributions of a polymath who transcended the boundaries of art and science. The biography, with its engaging narrative and thorough research, became a portal to da Vinci’s world, revealing the genius behind the canvases and the brilliance that revolutionized anatomy, engineering, and more. What makes this possession truly special is the story behind its acquisition. Four years of diligent saving transformed the book into a symbol of my commitment to education and the arts.

Work by Misha Milovanovich:

abstract silver sculpture on a pedestal

PACHAMAMA by Misha Milovanovich, 2023 London, Fiberglass resin, cellulose paint, and aluminum leaf
Unique Sculpture

abstract silver sculpture on a pedestal

PUTIPUTI by Misha Milovanovich, 2023, London, Fibreglass gilded in aluminum and silver leaf

abstract white sculpture on a pedestal

Sculpture 03 by Misha Milovanovich, 2023, London, Resin, cellulose paint, and Brazilian slate plinth

abstract white sculpture on a pedestal

Sculpture 06 by Misha Milovanovich, 2023, London, Resin, cellulose paint, and Brazilian slate plinth

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Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.