Ahead of Stipan Tadić’s exhibition “The Apple Shrinking”, set to open at the Josip Račić Gallery on 10 January, the NMMU is presenting the artist who has been living in New York for the past few years.
NMMU: You have been living and working in New York since 2018… Were you among the many whose childhood dream was living in America?
STIPAN TADIĆ: The thought of living in America has never even crossed my mind. On the contrary, I thought it was the last place in the world I wanted to live. But of course, like everyone nowadays, I grew up under the influence of American pop culture. That may be the biggest connection.
NMMU: Do you recall your first impression upon landing in New York?
STIPAN TADIĆ: I thought to myself that this city is dead; how this so-called “dream” is completely worn-out and obsolete. It took me almost five years to get used to it.
NMMU: What did your first day in New York look like?
STIPAN TADIĆ: With my partner at the time, I strolled around Central Park, we were walking along the Fifth Avenue. I remember this picture in front of Tiffany’s. I know we walked a lot.
NMMU: What is the most beautiful time of year in New York for you?
STIPAN TADIĆ: Autumn. The trees suddenly acquire these autumnal colours and the leaves do not fall so quickly either. So, autumn always turns out to be long and warm.
NMMU: What is the first New York museum that you visited?
STIPAN TADIĆ: First I went to MoMA, and it is still my favourite museum.
NMMU: What is life like in Harlem? (Do you still live there?)
STIPAN TADIĆ: I no longer live in Harlem. I lived there during my studies at Columbia. In the meantime, I moved to China Town, East Village, and now I live in Greenpoint (Brooklyn). I like living in Greenpoint, it’s the Polish Quarter where I can always eat sarma, breaded schnitzel, goulash. There are also a lot of old Polish grandmothers, so I feel comfortable.
NMMU: Which artists did you meet or you socialise with?
STIPAN TADIĆ: I hang out with a lot a different people, some of whom I met in college. Among the prominent artists I met are Kiki Smith, Francesco Clemente, Kaws, Jim Jarmush, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Sarah Sze, Mark Dion…
NMMU: How did you adjust to American cuisine?
STIPAN TADIĆ: It took a while for me to understand that one had to be careful about food. I eventually learned to navigate the shops and restaurants, but it took a while. There are, however, a lot of different cuisines in New York, from all over the world. Not just American.
NMMU: What do you do when you get homesick?
STIPAN TADIĆ: I put on some music and play it rather loudly in my studio. But I am often in touch with my friends from Zagreb, so I don’t feel the absence as much.
NMMU: What do you miss about Zagreb?
STIPAN TADIĆ: My friends and hanging out with them, in person.
NMMU: What do you do in your time off?
STIPAN TADIĆ: If I’m not working, I usually have dinner with friends or we go to a bar.
NMMU: What has the ability to always make you laugh / cry?
STIPAN TADIĆ: Home Alone 2
NMMU: What relaxes you?
STIPAN TADIĆ: Running, although I rarely do it.
NMMU: Do you have a pet?
STIPAN TADIĆ: I do not, but I’d like to have a cat.
NMMU: What kind of music do you listen to?
STIPAN TADIĆ: My Spotify annual review says that I listen to: Alternative Rock.
NMMU: What is your favourite comic book?
STIPAN TADIĆ: Squeak the Mouse.
STIPAN TADIĆ: What did your life in New York look like during the pandemic, and how did it affect your painting?
STIPAN TADIĆ: It had a positive effect. I gained a lot of time. New York was suddenly empty and I found it fascinating. I started painting scenes of vacant New York. Then, online exhibitions were launched, and I started showing my work.
NMMU: At the exhibition in the Račić Gallery, in addition to the cityscapes and self-portraits, we will also be able to view a portrait of Rene, who is Rene?
STIPAN TADIĆ: Rene is a friend of mine from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. We studied painting together in Atač’s class. He has recently also moved to New York and is currently studying at the NYAA.
NMMU: You painted self-portraits in various New York districts? Which is your favourite?
STIPAN TADIĆ: My favourites are Chinatown and Lower East Side.
Interviewed by: Lana Šetka
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: selfie Stipan Tadić