“Youth is like diamonds in the sun and diamonds are forever” go the words of Alphaville’s song “Forever Young”. One girl in the Balkans shines just like a diamond even when she’s often surrounded by stones.She refuses to belong. She’s herself. Meet Andrea Petrović, the painter, the musician, the artist.
The girl next door
Serbia is currently one of the countries with the biggest “brain drain” in the world. It means that a lot of young people leave their own country because they don’t see any chances or a space for improving themselves, and – in short – do not see their future there. Those who do stay have an important and not always easy task – to build their own identity, stay themselves and maintain their authenticity, and then to live and to survive. It seems simple but it’s not always so. Andrea Petrović, a 23 year old graduate student of painting does not wish to give up looking at life through the rose-coloured spectacles that she made for herself:
“I’m full of strength, will and enthusiasm. I always try to explore the unknown in the areas that interest me and to push myself beyond the limit, because when we are in the field of the unknown we lose safety, but then you start to feel the sensation of discovering,” says Andrea at the beginning of our conversation, and adds that her life as she knows it is a wonderful journey. At the same time, Andrea is very conscious about how uncertain future of an artist can be: “It was my choice” she adds. “Although painters are not respected enough in our country, I never had any doubt about who I want to become. At the very young age I discovered my talents (one of them was painting), and I just let them to lead me through my childhood and I still let them to lead me, now through my life.”
The first stop
“Singing was the first stop for me– one which I chose myself. I finished elementary music school, I played the violin and then enrolled in singing classes because I wanted to develop in this direction and to gain as much experience as possible so I could express myself better and more clearly.” Andrea is already well known to local audiences who enthusiastically greet her performances in clubs. “I sing in a few bands. On stage I have no alter-ego. Whenever I perform I am myself. I express my feelings in a most sincere way and I’m trying to share them with the audience”.
The magical world of painting
Andrea’s need to be expressed in many ways led her to the next stop: she sailed into the magical world of painting. “First, a few years ago, I completed my high school education in art and design, and now I’ve graduated from the School of Painting at the National Academy of Arts in Novi Sad”. The special attention of friends and followers has led to a series of photos in which the dominating theme is circles. Andrea explains: “I started this series at the end of my basic painting studies. My interest in circles stemmed from my desire to explore the inner development of man and his desire to establish harmony and find inner peace. It also symbolizes the connection with spirituality, as well as exploring the geometry which is closely associated with spirituality.”
Blend of spiritual and physical beauty
“My goal is to get to know myself through different forms of art, such as painting, singing and performance, and when I find the threads that bind them together, I find my true self,” says Andrea. She’s one of the girls who foundedthe Libero Theater in Novi Sad. Through this theater she wants to develop the art of performance. “My mission in life is to get to the point where my name will be associated with great quality. I want to be able to live off the things I love to do,” says Andrea. Her spiritual as well as physical charms have attracted the attention of many photographers and designers, who regularly invite her to different events so as to have their names associated with this beauty from Novi Sad.
Persistence always leads to the finish line
Without a doubt, Andrea lives for art. The problem, of course, is being able to make a living from it. Someone who is 23 years old, has a degree in painting, is well-known for her music, whose performances attract more people than the clubs can hold, who at a very young age started a theater – that someone is on a very uncertain path together with the future of culture and art in Serbia as a whole. Andrea and her colleagues, bands or solo singers are trying their best to make Novi Sad a nicer place where you can spent some quality time full of fun. Clubs in Novi Sad are often full of people and our city is well known for equally good offer of events that make our city alive during days and nights. Sometimes, money which Andrea earns for her singing is not enough to cover all her needs though. Usually, it’s just enough for the wardrobe or accessories that she will use to make her next performance the best possible. However, it is not an obstacle for her: “The state of culture in Serbia prepares people to fight for survival. There are boundaries to be broken, but if you can handle the pressure you can open the path to new knowledge. The opportunities for success are not the same as in the European Union, but you can still reach your goal if you’re consistent, diligent and keep on the right path,” says Andrea.
“Of course I’ve had moments when I was wondering where all of this would lead to and what I should expect, but even when I was aware that I was walking down unknown paths and that I was entrusting my destiny in Serbia to my love of art, I didn’t care too much or actually think about it. I face obstacles that somebody else might find terrible, but for some reason they’re not terrible for me. I convinced myself that obstacles are not terrible at all. Simply, it is me and the way of life I’ve chosen for myself,” said Andrea. In the early days of discovering her personality and developing her spirit she had problems in being understood by those she loves.
“Of course my mom and dad were worried, and I think at first they did not even understand me. To live by practicing art is for many a very risky choice, but I want to do what I really love. I believe that I can make art and also be able to live well. Put simply, it’s me and it’s my way of life”.
Andrea inherited her talent for painting from her father who still, despite his other obligations, finds time to create beautiful paintings that decorate their home. The Petrović family walls are also adorned by some of Andrea’s works. One day, her paintings will see other people’s walls. Maybe not the paintings she does now, but some other ones for sure. Sometimes it’s even better when you have to deal with the thorns to get the rose. On your way you can gain experience that will stand to you in the future.
And Andrea? She called me recently to tell me that she had ridden a bicyclefor 75 kilometres (from Novi Sad to Belgrade) without a break. I asked her: “But Andrea…. how?” I’ve known her for 15 years and I have never seen her cycling. “Well, it’s easy,” she said, laughing. “You just ride and after a while, even when you’re tired, you don’t feel the pain anymore. You ride on.” Well, this is Andrea Petrović.