Vanja Karas is a Belgrade-born, London based Artist, Curator, Designer and Creative Director. She graduated from the University of Arts in Belgrade, followed by an MA from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and King’s College London. Vanja began her creative career in theatre directing, and from there moved on to work in a range of other visual arts media including film, video, multimedia, graphic design and print. In recent years her work has been focused mainly on site-specific installations, photography, conceptual art and most recently textile design. She has followed her MA by studying photography at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design and International College of Photography, New York.
Vanja has exhibited her work world-wide in United Kingdom, Japan, USA, Italy, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Germany, France, and Serbia – including the 57th Venice Biennale, 56th Venice Biennale, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Royal Academy of Arts, Institute of Contemporary Arts ICA, Somerset House, Mall Galleries, The Photographers’ Gallery, Association of Photographers Gallery, Royal College of Arts, Royal Overseas League, Chelsea Arts Club, Vout-O-Reenee’s, CHART Gallery, Tobacco Docks, National Portrait Gallery, Tate, Turner Contemporary, New Orleans Photo Alliance, Palazzo Ducale Cantelmo, Italy, Galerie Huit Arles, China House, Malaysia, Alliance Francaise, Malaysia, Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu, New Moment, Belgrade. Her work has been published in books and magazines and commissioned for a number of private, public, museum and corporate collections including: Swiss Re (the Gherkin), St Mary’s Hospital, Hotel du Vin, Malmaison Hotels and a number of De Vere Venues including 1 Westferry Circus.
Vanja also works as an Creative / Art Director and Curator. She the Founder and Curator of the Photography Open Salon, (Arles, London and South-East Asia) which ran alongside the renowned Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival and which has since its inception in 2011 exhibited over 200 photographers on two continents and published three award winning books. She is on the Photography Open Salon judging panel. Vanja is also the Founder and Creative Director of Magenta Grove London, an Award Winning London based design studio.
Lives and works in London.
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‘As human beings we seem to be permanently caught up in the storm between continual change and repetitive patterns of both history and human nature. This storm is what we seem to call progress. My artistic practice in the broadest terms explores the nature of transience and impermanence as the core of our existence but also the cyclic conception of time and its broad recurrent patterns. Ultimately my work is attempting to depict the cyclical nature of something that is forever different but ultimately always the same. In my practice I work in space, in print and on screen.’
Vanja Karas creates works of conceptual vivacity, beauty, and emotional poignancy. Her thought-provoking and richly visual work often revisits the major motifs of the old masters and still life and translates them for the modern world. She explores the timeless themes of life, death, transience and the irrevocable passing of time, as well as the constant interplay of memory and immediacy. Vanja’s works invite us to pause, stop time and reconsider what it means to be human. She is interested in altering perspectives and in turn opens the idea of existence and reflection within her work: the ordinary sits alongside the surreal, demanding our renewed participation and creating a lingering sense of what is beyond. In her thought-provoking and richly visual work, Vanja often explores in her work the ambiguous symbolic significance of birds across cultures and history, and the way they universally relate to both life and death. On the one hand, birds are commonly associated with life, freedom, fertility and longevity. On the other they are seen as spirit bearers of the dead or premonitions of impending calamity and death. As a form of Jungian archetype, birds reflect a fundamental aspect of human nature—the denial of death as finality through a desire for renewal, transformation, and rebirth.