Art Konculica

A brave fight through a thousand faces: Ana Koncul, an artist with multiple sclerosis conquers the art world

– My childhood is caring, going out for lunch on the weekends, a lot of reading, but also hyperthyroidism in the third year, which is why I was misdiagnosed with cancer, which luckily after several years of the wrong medication was eliminated and correctly diagnosed

I am a lifelong dreamer and a sufferer of a disease with a thousand faces. In each of these faces there is a trace: a trace of childhood, youth, a trace of growing up… – Ana Koncul (48), a Zagreb academic painter (prof. Rašić’s class) and professor of art, begins her story.

– I was born in Sarajevo, in a city of encouraging and defiant people who love togetherness and their own identity. I am primarily from Sarajevo, and then everything else. Growing up in my family was being protected from the storms of life in the bay of love and harmony. I remember the four of us talking together; father, mother, older brother and me. My childhood is caring, going out for lunch on the weekends, a lot of reading, but also hyperthyroidism in the third year, which is why I was wrongly diagnosed with cancer, which fortunately, after several years of the wrong medication, was removed and correctly diagnosed. I had Bazedov’s disease, which prevented me from attending ballet school or any physical activity. Instead of jumping with sports props, I jumped into the world of books, retellings and illustrations about what I had read – recalls Ana.

At the age of ten, among the books of the family library, on the wall of her brother’s room full of books, she finds a book that will largely permeate her life in the future. It is about Jonathan Livingston’s Seagull and the eternal desire to be transported to another shore of the sea, in Ana’s case the shore of colors and shapes.
– Since my father is a former teacher and later a professor of philosophy and sociology, and my mother is from the world of architecture and designing up to three floors, I am a trace of a little bit of everything, the one who continuously thinks and expresses herself creatively. Arranging brought me a world of accessible professors and a different view of the application of art in a space. I started improvising by building shapes out of paper and creating theatrical scenes in the windows of the former Nama – this artist returns to the past with longing.

The arrival from Sarajevo to Zagreb took place in the whirlwind of war and it was not at all easy for her to start life in a completely new environment, moreover, at a time when the whole country suffered the horrors of war.

– Youth is going to Zagreb, a journey full of uncertainty and barricades, four days without me calling and not knowing anything about my parents who were left to worry about my brother. Zagreb has some new faces, but also a creative block. Since I attended Graphic Book Design at the Art School in Sarajevo, and the Applied School in Zagreb did not have the same course, in the final fourth grade I was accepted to the remaining Arranging and graduated from high school with distinction.

Ana lived in the family of barb Jake, a cousin of her mother’s father from Zadar, and aunt Carmen.

– Barba Jako was a writer known as Augustin Stipčević, and Aunt Carmen was a proofreader, thanks to whom I found security in the years without parents, a peace that I could not recognize because I was looking for my parents and brother. Thanks to them, Zagreb has become an indispensable part of me, and Sarajevo is a trace that never fades. I belong to these cities and through my vocation and pedagogical work I spread the light of some of my words, allowing others to find the light of their words. Thinking about it I often think of Freud’s definition of the mind as an iceberg; consciousness is the visible part, and the subconscious is the invisible part – that’s the abstract painting that I love so much. Art is an integral part of me and the path I am constantly walking, a path that has changes, it is often winding, sometimes straight, but it is always there. Father would say: The most important thing is the idea! – said Ana bluntly.

Unfortunately, her youthful days were also marked by a great loss in her life when multiple sclerosis took away her beloved brother.

– She literally swallowed a wonderful young man of 198 centimeters, a student of mechanical engineering and a former athlete. He had a progressive form of the disease that was looking for peace, and there was no peace in war. We lost our Igor, my brother who loved life so much… – said Ana sadly.

Fate played with her again when she found out in 2012 that she was suffering from the same disease that took her brother forever.

– When I found out that I was suffering from multiple sclerosis, I floated in accepting the reality, rejecting the knowledge due to my personal experience of my brother’s condition. I denied everything, refused help and convinced myself that I was not sick, but my body said otherwise. In 2012, I experienced my first relapse and the inability to control the right side of my body. Acceptance of the disease occurred at the moment when I embraced my state of needing a completely different attitude towards myself, my loved ones and the environment, i.e. after four years, with an adapted lifestyle, which includes the consumption of medicines, an adapted diet, selected supplements. The biggest challenge is to be grateful that I am well and not worse and to wake up happy that I can create. I follow the ancient thought of my parents: Strive for better, and when it’s hard, look behind you! – points out Ana and adds that the multiple is now a part of her that both encourages and hinders her.

– It encourages me because it gives me the courage for a new start in my now serious years, and it stops me when the symptoms do not allow me to do everything I would like because my mind and body simply cannot. I can and I will, that’s my capital from childhood, that’s the capital that every parent should give to their own child, no matter what written path they follow. And really, whether you’re sick or not, whatever you do, the most important thing is the idea, that star you aspire to even when things aren’t going well. The biggest challenge is to remain yourself in the world of imposed values and accept your own possibilities.

Ana is a real example that even a serious diagnosis like multiple sclerosis does not have to be an obstacle for professional development. She also showed herself as a sculptor, and her sculptures dedicated to men’s and women’s handball were once exhibited in Jarun. In recent years, she has been making unique items for the home, such as lamps and luxury wall and floor tiles (her works decorate many interiors), and she also creates modern paintings, mostly abstractions with an expressive structure.

– Three years ago, in the age of Covid, thinking about the market and imposed values, I wanted to show how important the role of the personal and the different is. That’s how I started painting personal ceramic tiles that are placed on wall and floor surfaces like pictures. At the same time, table lamps and pendants are made from wooden panels. Motivated by the need to preserve the environment, I try to use the remains of wood and recycled materials for furniture following the Zero Waste principle – says Ana, whose home, when you enter, you feel as if you are in an art gallery.

– We wanted to create a home where you can feel the energy of creative creation and the warmth of personality. I believe that every corner of the home is the energy of the moment.

He describes his art as a combination of two loves, namely design and color. We ask her which of her works she is most proud of?

– Sculptures of athletes and paintings of birds. I am particularly attached to sculptures due to the natural size and combination of wire mesh, newsprint and polyester, and to paintings due to the combination of clear and unclear in the stylization of movement in flight and the atmosphere of the expressive colors of the background. At the same time, these are also my early works – says this artist, who is currently at the turning point of moving into independent waters.

– Considering the diagnosis, working in school with children exhausts me a lot because the teacher must not be a frontal lecturer for 45 minutes but a wheel that receives and gives mutually, which results in the need for (re)education because I think that a happy society is one that has knowledge, and knowledge is power. After a long time of reflection and the support of my husband, I decided to find my peace and do what relaxes and fulfills me. Without the support of my family, mother and wife, I would not have been able to accomplish my work. My husband, as a former coach, is my energy that I sometimes lack, he is my driving force and my strength. In general, my family is my harbor and my refuge! – concludes this inspiring artist.



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