Nikola Džafo

Nikola Džafo (pronounced djah-foh) was born in Novi Sad in 1950. He a BA (1978) and an MA (1981) in painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade. From his college years Džafo had a prolific exhibiting career, showing his work in both solo and group exhibitions in the former Yugoslavia and abroad. From 1990-2013 during the period of civil wars in Yugoslavia, Džafo replaces painting with social activism and action art. During this time, he was the creator and initiator of the group Led Art, which realised numerous art actions in public space over the period of nearly two decades (Frozen Art, Public Haircutings, Reconstruction of Crime, Kunstlager, and many others). Džafo was also the co-founder of the Centre for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade (1995) and the Multimedia Centre “Led Art” in Novi Sad (2000), where he has set up the Art Clinic (experimental space for making and exhibiting art). After the Euthanasia of the Art Clinic (2013), he starts the new Shock Collective, along the same ethical guidelines of solidarity, collaboration and creativity.  Since 2013, Džafo returns to making art but his work retains a critical and socio-political edge. The recurring character of Zec (Rabbit) first appears in his work since 1994 (Exhibition “Art Garden”, Belgrade), and since then becomes a regular character and a signature leitmotif in subsequent exhibitions, performances and actions. The impish, melancholy and all-knowing Zec is both an individual character and a multitude or a group. It appears rendered in different style or manner within compositions based of classical and modern painting, in a way that both pays respects to tradition and breaks away from it. As a character-multiple it offers a critique of society, acts as the artist’s spiritual guardian as well as his mascot and friend. The most complex project with the theme of Zec is the work in progress “The Rabbit Who Ate A Museum”. For his exhibition “Lepus in Fabula” (Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, 2012) Džafo received the highest artistic award in Serbia, the Politika Award.