When planning the exhibition of new works of artist Jelena Bando at the MSU Gallery last year, we did not even begin to realise how the exhibition Nice to meet you – which covers the topic of personal narration, emotion, and interaction – would be responsive to the times in which we have found ourselves, albeit not by choice, and which have changed – somewhat abruptly and intensely – everyday life and processes of relationships, personal experiences, and perception of the world around us. The year 2020 will be remembered for global phenomenons that have changed our view of that which we consider normal and implicit.

The virus, quarantine, economic precariousness and crisis, as well as the earthquake that struck Zagreb have strongly destabilised the pre-established way of life. In these circumstances, we have had the opportunity to recognise and distinguish between that which is important and that which is not; the time in which we had hitherto lived slowed down, as well as our rhythm. As we were forced to iso- late within our own homes, to maintain spatial distance and to refrain from interaction, a space opened up to us of confronting fears and sup- pressed demons, which we had skilfully kept hidden in the chaos of everyday life. In the solitude of isolation, we were able to take a good look at ourselves and get to know ourselves better. It proved neces- sary and important to recognise and detect emotions provoked by the events that had created our new reality.

In the book Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, at the start of the first part, philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum writes the following: “Emotions, I shall argue, involve judgments about impor- tant things, judgments in which, appraising an external object as sali- ent for our own well-being, we acknowledge our own neediness and incompleteness before parts of the world that we do not fully control.”1 By presenting an example from her own life, related to the loss of her mother, Martha C. Nussbaum indicates the characteristics of emotions, “their urgency and heat; their tendency to take over the personality and to move it to action with overwhelming force; their connection with important attachments, in terms of which a person defines her life; the person’s sense of passivity before them; their apparently adversarial relation to ‘rationality’ in the sense of cool calculation or cost-benefit analysis; their close connections with one another, as hope alternates easily with fear, as a single event transforms hope into grief, as grief, looking about for a cause, expresses itself as anger, as all of these can be the vehicles of an underlying love.”2

Emotions, their understanding, the necessity to perceive oneself and the confrontation with own vulnerabilities as the prerequisite of connecting with ourselves and subsequently with others, have compelled Jelena Bando to redeliberate and question such topics.

Jelena Bando has positioned herself on the contemporary art scene through the recognisability of artistic expression, the skilful balancing between painterly and drawing craft. In her artistic work, she successfully evades the imposed theoretical notions by insisting on authenticity, and embarks upon a game of reinterpretation of lived experiences.

The research of correlation and acceptance of the Other’s diversity, i.e. the understanding of the construction of identity in colo- nial and postcolonial contexts, has guided her to remote areas which are threatened by the vanishing of autochthonous communities. The result of deliberation and research of identity conditioned by geopo- litical determinants is the cycle of works from 2016, entitled Susreti u nestajanju / Matches in the Disappearance, in which she focuses on the problematics of indigenous communities from different areas. It is exactly in this work/cycle that Bando has shown a genuine effort to deconstruct the change of own perspective. The same period saw the production of works based on the artist’s personal experience on inti- macy and closeness from the cycle Drugi / The Other (2015) and Pravi prostor / A Proper Space (2016/2017). In

the series A Proper Space, there occurs the intertwining of motifs from Jelena’s everyday life with those taken from earlier series, which served as the foreshadowing of a kind of parting from earlier topics. The elements highlighted in this series reproduce an imaginary landscape combined with her actual living space that enabled the creation of a new visual world. The artist con- structs the canvases at the border of the realistic and the imaginary; by opting for sepulchral colours, she highlights the emotional states of everyday life and the situations around her.

With the series of new works Nice to Meet You, Jelena addresses our vulnerability and courage to share some of our most inti- mate feelings, which in turn renders us exposed. The author has pre- sented portraits of her friends, who are regular visitors at her atelier.

Jelena’s studio space, situated in the city centre, seems to invite us to stop by this warm, luminous place, fostering houseplants and little coffee cups shyly set up opposite the entrance to the atelier, en route to the armchair that awaits the guests. It is exactly these meetings and talks that motivated Jelena to produce this cycle of paintings.

Empathy towards the interlocutor initiated the process of painting, during which the artist connected with emotional states of the other, seeking to illustrate that which she had recognised.

When writing on distinction and the connection between empa- thy and the emotion of compassion in her book Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Martha C. Nussbaum refers to Heinz Kohut, the leading theorist of empathy within psychoanalysis, who points out (on the basis of his extensive clinical experience) that the process of empathy “is a valuable guide to accurate responding, an ‘informer of appropriate action’ – appropriate not in the ethical sense, but just in the sense of conforming to the person’s aims, whether these are beneficent or malevolent.”3 In a speech given just before he passed away, Kohut states the following on the subject of empathy: “...empathy, per se, is a therapeutic action in the broadest sense, a beneficial action in the broadest sense of the word.”4

The sedimentation of experiences and its manifestation in the emphatic approach, in the sincere listening to the other, now becomes the centre of Jelena Bando’s artistic work.

From each of the portraits painted, Jelena singles out a particular abstract element or detail, which she then paints enlarged so as to fit the dimensions of the canvas. The abstract element extracts a hidden emotion representing the inner state of the person portrayed. With such fragmentation and singling out of details, the artist attaches significance to certain emotional states and indicates their presence in everybody’s life. That which is hidden becomes visible, a detail becomes the focus: courage, hope, sadness, fear, rage, happiness. The paintings have been named after the persons portrayed, and the enlarged detail is joined with each of the portraits. At the exhibition, however, the paintings are not presented in pairs: it is up to the observer to connect and join them together.

On the subject of her work and the new cycle, the artist states the following: “That which I basically seek to address with my work is occasionally the idea that it is not only okay, but also necessary to immerse into oneself and into own emotions, to show vulnerability, and that these states primarily connect us with ourselves, which ensures a path for a deeper, more complete and more real connection with others.”

The artist seeks to subtly problematise the states of isolation and loneliness that present inevitable reality for an increasing number of people. The feeling of solitude – as the choice of immersion into own inner world – is therefore dominant in this cycle.

With the new cycle, Jelena Bando continues to form visual records in which individual pages can also function as separate entities.

Emotions are mirrored by diverse forms, and the framing and scaling of colours in space. At the border between realism (portrait) and imaginary representation (of emotions), Jelena creates new worlds of recognition and emotional identification.

Dogovarajući izložbu novih radova umjetnice Jelene Bando u MSU galeriji, prošle godine, nismo ni slutile koliko će izložba Drago mi je / Nice to meet you, o temi osobne naracije, emocije i interakcije, biti prijemčiva u vremenu u kojem smo se ne svojom voljom našli i koje je nekako naglo i silovito promijenilo svakodnevicu i procese odnosa, osobnih doživljaja i poimanje svijeta koji nas okružuje. Godina 2020. bit će zapamćena po globalnim događajima koji su promijenili naše viđenje onoga što smatramo normalnim i što nam se podrazumijeva. Virus, karantena, ekonomska neizvjesnost i gospodarska kriza, potres koji je pogodio Zagreb, uvelike su poljuljali ustaljeni način života. U tim okolnostima imali smo prilike spoznati i razlučiti bitno od nebitnog, vrijeme u kojem smo do tada živjeli je usporilo, pa i naš ritam. Prisiljeni na izolaciju unutar vlastita doma, prostornu distancu i odsutnost interakcija, otvorio nam se prostor suočavanja sa strahovima i potisnutim demonima, koje smo vješto skrivali u kaosu svakodnevnog života. U samoći izolacije, mogli smo se dobro promotriti i bolje upoznati. Pokazalo se potrebnim i važnim prepoznati i detektirati emocije koje su izazvali događaji što su kreirali našu novu stvarnost.

U knjizi Izdizanje misli: inteligencija emocija filozofkinja Martha C. Nussbaum na početku prvog djela piše: „Emocije, tvrdit ću, uključuju prosudbe o važnim stvarima, prosudbe kojima, ocjenjujući neki izvanjski objekt značajnim za našu dobrobit, mi priznajemo svoju potrebitost i nepotpunost u odnosu na dijelove svijeta koje ne kontroliramo do kraja.“[1]Navodeći primjer iz vlastitog života povezan s gubitkom majke, Marta C. Nussbaum, ukazuje na značajke emocija, „njihovu hitnost i intenzitet, tendenciju da preuzmu vlast nad osobom, i s neodoljivom je snagom potaknu na djelovanje; njihovu povezanost s važnim privrženim vezama u skladu s kojima neka osoba definira svoj život; osjećaje pasivnosti koje osoba pred njima ima; njihov naizgled neprijateljski odnos prema 'racionalnosti' shvaćene u smislu hladne kalkulacije i odvagivanju troškova i koristi; njihovu usku međusobnu povezanost – u kojoj se nada nelagodno izmjenjuje sa strahom, u kojoj jedan jedini događaj preobražava nadu u žalost, u kojoj se žalost, u potrazi za nekim uzrokom, izražava kao bijes, i u kojoj sve to mogu biti izrazi jedne te iste ishodišne ljubavi.“[2]

Emocije, njihovo razumijevanje, nužnost promatranja sebe i suočavanje s vlastitim ranjivostima kao preduvjet povezivanja samih sa sobom, pa onda i s drugima, naveli su Jelenu Bando da ponovno promišlja i propituje takve teme.

Jelena Bando, pozicionirala se na suvremenoj likovnoj sceni kroz prepoznatljivost umjetničkog izričaja, vještim balansiranjem između slikarskog i crtačkog umijeća. U umjetničkom radu ona uspješno izmiče nametnutim teorijskim pojmovima inzistirajući na autentičnosti te se upušta u igru reinterpretacije proživljenih iskustava.

Istraživanje povezanosti i prihvaćanja različitosti Drugoga, odnosno razumijevanje konstrukcije identiteta u kolonijalnim  i postkolonijalnim kontekstima, odvelo ju je u udaljene krajeve u kojima prijeti nestajanje autohtone zajednice. Rezultat promišljanja i istraživanja identiteta uvjetovanog geopolitičkim odrednicama, ciklus je radova iz 2016. godine Susreti u nestajanju / Matches in the disappearance, u kojem stavlja naglasak na problematiku ugroženosti domorodačkih zajednica iz različitih područja. Bando je upravo u tom radu/ciklusu pokazala iskreno nastojanje da dekonstruira promjenu vlastite perspektive. Tada su nastali radovi temeljeni na osobnom iskustvu autorice o intimnosti i bliskosti iz ciklusa Drugi / The other (2015.) i Pravi prostor / A proper space (2016./2017.). U seriji Pravi prostor dolazi do ispreplitanja motiva iz Jelenine svakodnevice s motivima preuzetima iz ranijih serija, što je bio nagovještaj svojevrsnog oproštaja od prijašnjih tema. Elementi naglašeni u toj seriji reproduciraju imaginarni krajolik kombiniran s njezinim stvarnim životnim prostorom, koji je omogućio stvaranje novoga vizualnog svijeta. Umjetnica platna konstruira na granici realističnog i imaginarnog, odabirom prigušenih boja naglašava emocionalna stanja svakodnevice i  situacije koje je okružuju. 

Serijom novih radova Drago mi je /, Nice to meet you Jelena progovara o našoj ranjivosti i odvažnosti da podijelimo s drugima neke najintimnije osjećaje i tako budemo izloženi.  Autorica je predstavila portrete svojih prijateljica i prijatelja, redovitih posjetitelja njezina atelijera.

Jelenin studijski prostor, smješten u centru grada, kao da poziva da navratiš u to toplo, svijetlo mjesto, s udomljenim sobnim biljkama i malim šalicama za kavu sramežljivo postavljenima nasuprot ulazu u atelijer, a na putu prema fotelji koja čeka goste. Upravo ti susreti i razgovori motivirali su Jelenu za taj ciklus slika. Empatija prema sugovorniku pokrenula je procesa slikanja tijekom kojeg se umjetnica povezuje s emocionalnim stanjima drugog, pokušavajući dočarati  što je to prepoznala.

Pišući o distinkciji i povezanosti empatije i emocije samilosti Marta C. Nussbaum u knjizi Izdizanje misli, inteligencija emocija, referira se na Heinza Kosutha, vodećeg teoretičara empatije u psihoanalizi, koji naglašava (na temelju opsežnog kliničkog iskustva) da je empatijski proces vrijedan vodič za točno reagiranje, „izvor informacija za prikladno djelovanje“ – prikladno ne u etičkom smislu, nego u samo smislu podudaranja s osobnim ciljevima osobe, bili oni dobronamjerni ili zlonamjerni.[3]  Koshut u govoru koji je održao neposredno prije smrti, o empatiji kaže:“… empatija, sama po sebi, predstavlja terapeutski čin u najširem smislu, predstavlja koristan čin u najširem smislu riječi. “

Taloženje iskustva i njegovo očitovanje u empatičkom pristupu, u iskrenom slušanju drugog, sada postaje središte umjetničkog rada Jelene Bando.

Sa svakog naslikanog portreta Jelena izdvaja određeni apstraktni element ili detalj koji potom slika uvećan na dimenziju platna. Apstraktni element ekstrahira skrivenu emociju koja predstavlja unutarnje stanje portretirane osobe. Takvim fragmentiranjem i izdvajanjem detalja, umjetnica daje važnost određenim emocionalnim stanjima i ukazuje na njihovu prisutnost u svačijem životu. Ono što je skriveno, postaje vidljivo, detalj postaje fokus: hrabrost, nada, tuga, strah, bijes, sreća. Slike su nazvane prema portretiranim ljudima, a uz svaki portret veže se uvećani detalj. Međutim na izložbi slike nisu predstavljene u paru: na promatraču je da ih poveže i spoji.

O radu i novom ciklusu umjetnica kaže: „Ono što u osnovi pokušavam adresirati svojim radom ponekad je zamisao da nije samo u redu, nego je nužno uroniti u sebe, svoje emocije i pokazati ranjivost te da nas ta stanja prvenstveno povezuju s nama samima, čime se osigurava put za potpunije, dublje i stvarnije povezivanje s drugima.”

Umjetnica nastoji suptilno problematizirati stanja izoliranosti i osamljenosti koja su za sve više ljudi neizbježna stvarnost. Tako je u ovom ciklusu dominantan osjećaj samotnosti – kao izbor uranjanja u vlastiti unutarnji svijet.

Novim ciklusom Jelena Bando nastavlja vizualne zapise u kojima pojedine stranice mogu funkcionirati i kao zasebne cjeline. Raznolike forme, kadriranje i skala boja u  prostoru slike zrcale osjećaje. Na granici između realizma (portret) i imaginarnog prikaza (emocija) Jelena stvara nove svjetove prepoznavanja i emocionalnog identificiranja.

Martina Munivrana


The new series of works by Jelena Bando, entitled Nice to Meet You, was produced in
amicable environment which she creates in her own studio. This space transforms into an
intimate site of gathering, socialising and confiding, a safe zone of interpersonal
closeness. We meet Jelena’s inner circle of friends whose personalities, as well as current
emotional states, are interpreted in their portraits. Years-long friendships and numerous
moments spent together are crystallised in the refined depictions of individuals and their
natural, spontaneous placement in the space of Jelena’s artistic activity. Therefore, she
directly intertwines the space of her own work and the sphere of private relationships,
which are an inseparable element of her everyday life.

This work is an attempt at raising awareness of and representing the relations between
personal and others’ emotions, the sense of amicable commitment, and their possible
aesthetic interpretations. It is exactly the idea of closeness/intimacy that is present as a
relevant aspect of Jelena’s work. Theoretician Lauren Berlant points out that “intimacy
builds worlds; it creates spaces and usurps places meant for other kinds of relation. Its
potential failure to stabilise closeness always haunts its persistent activity, making the very
attachments deemed to buttress ‘a life’ seem in a state of constant if latent vulnerability.”
Simultaneously, intimacy fills us with desire to create something common, as well as with
promise of mutual happiness. The sense of closeness is connected with spheres of
friendship and intimate relationships marked by the sense of comfort and solace, but also
revived with diverse expressive and liberating kinds of love.

Jelena’s portraits capture spaces and relationships of amicable closeness, but also of
vulnerability, which her friends are more than ready to show exclusively to her in an honest
way. They allow the artist to autonomously construct her own vision of their personalities
and emotional states that were previously reserved only for private gatherings. Now, we
gain insight into Jelena’s experience of this exchange that manifests itself in the concept of
so-called “intimate public,” primarily marked by the sense of belonging to a community.
Publicity becomes intimacy once the affective and emotional connections come first –
those established on the sense of togetherness and presence of everyday life in ordinary
spaces, in which our social world relies on anonymity and local belonging, and in which we
are recognised and supported by other individuals whom we find close. It is exactly such
zone that has been revived by Jelena in the space of her studio and, furthermore, within

the framework of the site of her solo exhibition. She has created an affective and intimate
public sphere supported by transformative power of emotions that contribute to the
emergence of culture of “genuine feelings.” These feelings are recognised in individual
personalities, attitudes, and momentary presence of the portrayed friends. The feelings are
also additionally illustrated by the meticulously constructed ambience of the studio, which
changes subtly and according to the specific energy of each friend. Animals and plants
supplement Jelena’s perception of her friends. By involving fiction, she offers to us the
keys for an even deeper reading of their personalities and emotional states of frailness,
protection, love, courage, anger, fear, and acceptance.

Jelena’s mode of work reveals her need for an individual approach to each of the
protagonists she paints. In the background of such work process, I recognise the principles
of care, attention, and protection, which she seeks to provide for her friends. Moments of
the often intangible amicable care are recognised as situations in which we can count on
unreserved support when we need it, and on time set aside for long talks. The care for
others in her approach is inseparable from the care for herself; Jelena therefore also
practices so-called self-care through the very process of work. By listening to others, we
also reflect our own emotions, life situations, interpersonal and familial relationships.
Jelena’s work on this exhibition actually also consolidated in-depth work on herself (be it
through the process of socialising and portraying of others, or through a series of therapy
sessions which she underwent by herself in this period). The result may be most explicitly
interpreted in the self-portrait that appears at the very end of the process, as a possible
framework and incentive for self-analysis and positioning. Jelena is seeking a way to
situate her own figure within the studio space, to find form and aesthetic narration of her
own identification and, in so doing, to raise awareness of and visualise accompanying

Lea Vene

Berlant, Lauren. 2000. “Intimacy: A Special Issue,” in: Lauren Berlant (ed.), Intimacy.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Nova serija radova Jelene Bando Nice to meet you nastaje u prijateljskom okruženju koje
stvara u vlastitom atelijeru. Taj se prostor transformira u intimno mjesto susreta, druženja i
povjeravanja, sigurnu zonu međuljudske prisnosti. Upoznajemo Jelenin bliski krug
prijatelja čija se osobnost, ali i aktualna emotivna stanja iščitavaju u njihovim portretima.
Dugogodišnja poznanstva i nebrojeni trenuci koje su zajednički proveli kristaliziraju se u
pročišćenim prikazima pojedinaca i njihove prirodne i spontane umještenosti u prostor
Jelenina umjetničkog djelovanja. Tako direktno isprepliće prostor vlastitog rada i sferu
privatnih odnosa koji su neodvojiv element njezine svakodnevice.

Ovaj rad pokušaj je osvještavanja i reprezentacije odnosa osobnih i tuđih emocija i
osjećaja prijateljske privrženosti te njihovih mogućih estetskih interpretacija. Upravo se
ideja bliskosti/intimnosti proteže kao bitan aspekt Jelenina rada. Teoretičarka Lauren
Berlant ističe kako intimnost gradi svjetove; stvara prostore i uzurpira mjesta namijenjena
drugim vrstama odnosa. Potencijalni neuspjeh u ostvarivanju i održavanju bliskosti stvara
osjećaj nesigurnosti, a privrženost koju težimo izgraditi u stanju je stalne latentne
ranjivosti. Istodobno nas intimnost ispunjava željom za stvaranjem nečeg zajedničkog i
ispunjava nas obećanjima o obostranoj sreći. Osjećaj bliskosti povezan je sa sferama
prijateljstva i intimnih veza koje su obilježene osjećajem ugode i utjehe, ali jednako tako i
oživljene raznolikim ekspresivnim te oslobađajućim vrstama ljubavi.

Jelenini portreti zahvaćaju prostore i odnose prijateljske bliskosti, ali i ranjivosti koju su
prijatelji spremni iskreno baš njoj pokazati. Dopuštaju umjetnici da samostalno izgradi
vlastitu viziju njihovih osobnosti i emotivnih stanja koja su prije bila rezervirana samo za
privatna druženja. Mi sada dobivamo uvid u Jelenino iskustvo te razmjene koja se
manifestira u konceptu tzv. „intimne javnosti” obilježene prvenstveno osjećajem
pripadnosti zajednici. Javno je intimno kad prednjače afektivne i emocionalne povezanosti
utemeljene na osjećaju zajedništva i prisutnosti svakodnevnog u uobičajenim prostorima
gdje se naš društveni svijet oslanja na anonimnost i pripadnost lokalnom i gdje nas
prepoznaju i podržavaju drugi pojedinci s kojima smo bliski. Upravo je takvu zonu Jelena
oživjela u prostoru svojeg atelijera, a nadalje i u okviru prostora samostalne izložbe.
Stvorila je afektivnu i intimnu javnu sferu poduprtu transformativnom snagom emocija koje
pridonose izranjanju kulture „pravih osjećaja”. Ti osjećaji prepoznaju se u individualnim
osobnostima, stavu i momentalnoj prisutnosti svih portretiranih prijatelja. Dodatno osjećaje

dočarava i pomno konstruiran ambijent atelijera koji se mijenja suptilno i sukladno
specifičnoj energiji svakog od prijatelja. Životinje i biljke upotpunjuju Jelenin doživljaj
prijatelja. Uplitanjem fikcije ona nam nudi ključeve za još dublje čitanje njihovih osobnosti i
emotivnih stanja krhkosti, prkosa, zaštićenosti, ljubavi, hrabrosti, ljutnje, straha i

Jelenin način rada otkriva njezinu potrebu za individualnim pristupom svakom od
protagonista i protagonistica koje slika. U pozadini takvog proces rada prepoznajem
principe brige, pažnje i zaštite koju želi osigurati za svoje prijatelje. Trenuci često
neopipljive prijateljske skrbi prepoznaju se kao situacije u kojima možemo računati na
bezrezervnu podršku kada nam je potrebno i na vrijeme izdvojeno za duge razgovore.
Briga za druge u njezinu pristupu neodvojiva je od brige za sebe, stoga Jelena jednako
tako kroz sam proces rada na ovoj seriji prakticira i tzv. self-care. Slušajući druge
reflektiramo i vlastite emocije, životne situacije, međuljudske i obiteljske odnose. Jelenin
rad na ovoj izložbi zapravo je objedinio i dubinski rad na sebi (kako kroz proces druženja i
portretiranja drugih tako i kroz niz terapijskih sesija kojima se sama podvrgnula u tom
periodu). Rezultat se možda najeksplicitnije iščitava u autoportretu koji se pojavljuje na
samom kraju procesa kao mogući okvir i poticaj za samoanaliziranje i pozicioniranje.
Jelena traži način da smjesti vlastiti lik u prostor atelijera, da pronađe formu i estetsku
naraciju vlastite identifikacije, a da pritom osvijesti i vizualizira prateće emocije.

Lea Vene

Berlant, Lauren. 2000. „Intimacy: A Special Issue,” u: Lauren Berlant (ur.), Intimacy.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


NICE TO MEET YOU... Nice to meet you, too…
When Jelena asked me whether I would like to participate in her project in some way, and
when she described to me her creative process, topic and concept, I immediately knew I
would. Even though the process was still blurry and not entirely clear to me, it nevertheless
seemed genuinely creative, and that was reason enough to have faith and dedicate myself
to it, as I had done many times before. I knew that, by doing so, something very exciting
could happen. The years of uncompromising work on myself and Gestalt education, the
constant experimenting and pushing of boundaries, have enabled me to accept such
challenges with excitement and respect, since the value scale measuring the perception of
my work was, at last, primarily in my hands. Furthermore, I also knew that the most
important thing to me was the satisfaction of the two of us and that our therapeutic
relationship – which had been initiated a year before, out of Jelena’s desire for a more
profound exploration of emotions – is developing and growing through her project, which
would inevitably lead to a result that we could support and present.
Throughout my life, I have been nearly magnetically drawn to people who enjoy their work
and activity, probably because they have found their calling. These people are driven by
passion, and their end goal, albeit extremely important, is not in their constant focus, it does
not succeed at imposing itself as a fixed idea or figure, but is rather merely in contours. This
is exactly what I recognised when Jelena and I started working together – the faith that
something good will happen, a great passion, curiosity, and belief in the path we were
It is well known that Gestalt psychotherapy is rooted in Gestalt psychology, a psychology
movement that originated in the 1920s, with Wertheimer, Köhler, Koffka and Arnheim as
initiators; the latter is also most credited with the application of Gestalt hypotheses in arts
and design. With all that in mind, my impression is that Jelena has taken a step further from
well-known Gestalt principles and their use in art and, having embarked from her own
calling, “strolled” quite naturally through my own, thus constructing a new interdisciplinary
Creativity is a triumph of an individual’s splendour, of the feeling that nothing is impossible.
Creativity is a celebration of life. It is the bold statement: I am here! I love my life! I love
myself! I can be anything! I can do anything! (Joseph Zinker, Creative Process in Gestalt
Therapy, 1978)
The idea of portraying a person in their entirety, the opening and emergence of
figure/emotion through dialogue, the emotion that Jelena recognises in a model, extracts and
studies it as a separate whole, have provided me with a new medium through which I quite
tangibly observed the cyclic pulsating nature of the experience of human contact. The
dominant figure emerges from the background, seeks attention and processing, only to get
re-immersed in the background, while another interesting figure emerges. It was truly a
valuable experience to observe the central paradigm of Gestalt psychotherapy of the figure
and the background through the intertwining of the creative artistic process and the power of
human contact.

In our relationship, through familiarisation and therapeutic work, the emotion of fear imposed
itself as a powerful figure, which gave colour to numerous situations and got involved in
Jelena’s life seemingly out of nowhere. The fear was strong, it seemed intense, like an
overwhelming rush of an infantile storm, which often has a nearly paralysing effect and pulls
us into regressive states of a child. In such states, we often feel as if we cannot access our
knowledge acquired through prior experiences, intellectual resources, and strategies for
coping with frustrations, discontent, and such intense emotions. This fear acted as a strong
introject, the “swallowed and undigested” belief of another. We could call it a “message on
life” which we hear in early childhood, when we experience the world solely through
emotions, while our critical thinking and the ability to select ideas and external stimuli are still
undeveloped. We worked with fear, explored it. Jelena promptly accepted new ideas and
processing of her unfinished emotional business which, more often than not, also required
confrontation with people from immediate surroundings. All of this entailed great courage on
her part, as well as faith in our work, in myself, and in own process and capacities. To
observe Jelena enjoying the energy and freedom gained by re-establishing blocked
processes was, I dare say, nearly as delightful for me as it was for her.
“Between” is not an auxiliary construction, but rather a real place and bearer of interpersonal
events; it has received no specific attention since, in differentiating between the individual
soul and its context, it does not exhibit smooth continuity, but is repeatedly reconstituted in
relation to interpersonal encounters. (M. Buber, I and Thou, 1990)
NICE TO MEET YOU – at the studio…
I go to Jelena’s studio where an idea is materialised in a certain way. She introduces me to
the world of her models, their shared story, her perception of them, and the emotions that
emerge just like figures during the creative process, through dialogue, but also through
emotional recognition and the occasionally inevitable projections. The contours of the end
goal of our process gradually become sharper, making our process increasingly tangible,
real. I surrender myself to Jelena’s words. I only seek to be fully present, and recognise and
bring to awareness my emotional reactions and impressions, so that I could share them with
Jelena. I perceive the portraits as life stories and biographies, and the emotions recognised
by Jelena as figures, as the currently strongest subjective impression of these people and
the potential topics on which these relations can grow and deepen as the possibility for an
entirely new contact. To quote Erving Polster, one of the greatest thinkers of Gestalt therapy:
“Contact is the lifeblood of growth, means for changing oneself, and one’s experience in the
world.” Suddenly, I become aware of how brave this is. We talk about people who are
important to Jelena, who agree to uncover themselves in a way. Our attention is focused on
details, they represent emotions. We seek to take into account the models; at the same time,
we are quite aware of the need to keep Jelena authentic and honest with herself, while also
bearing in mind not to expose the intimacy of others to the level they would find offensive or
overly exposing. We let the process lead us, we collaborated and explored, shared ideas,
exposed ourselves, and uncovered our thoughts before one another. I believe we
succeeded. Each and every emotion emerged from the personal experience of the model’s
story, it was honest, authentic, devoid of hyper-protectivity, and had crystal clear origin.
Jelena recognises fear as her emotion. In a way, the end of the journey through the Nice to
Meet You series brings us back to the beginning of our therapy path. Now, however, it
seems as if we speak of another, different kind of fear, which Jelena has gotten to know
better and can now cope with it, whose “origin” is much clearer. Something can actually be
done with it. This fear seems to turn into excitement. Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy,
stated on one occasion, “Fear is excitement without the breath,” which would mean that the
same stimuli provoking excitement also provoke fear, and that any fear can be turned into
excitement if we simultaneously breathe fully. Likewise, excitement without the breath soon
turns into fear. When we are frightened, we hastily seek to “get rid” of this feeling in various
ways. Holding of breath is one of the physical tools to which we resort for this purpose. From
this perspective, the link between fear and excitement inspires hope that facing fears does
make a difference, and that each one of us has capacity for it. When we feel fear, it does
help to pay attention and assure that we are breathing, and see if there is anything exciting
in the challenges that await us. Perhaps it was exactly fear that served as one of the more
important triggers of Jelena’s creativity. It is certainly important to note that, in the polarity of
fear, courage is found. After all, such kind of exposure and intimate uncovering, be of
oneself or of others, undoubtedly also requires great courage.

NICE TO MEET YOU – the pleasure is mine…
When we look at the values that served as inspiration for Jelena’s series Nice to Meet You in
sequential order, we immediately spot the universality of humanist values and the craving of
today’s society for them. It is worth noting once again that Jelena’s work intertwines so
naturally with all of the ideas of Gestalt psychotherapy. Gestalt is a humanist movement
based on CONTACT that is established and built through a process of dialogue in which we,
alongside the gradual building of trust, stimulate AUTHENTIC opening and sharing of an
individual’s intimate content, while constantly taking into consideration the VULNERABILITY,
boundaries, and defence mechanisms that serve as protection from repeated injuries,
potential re-traumatising and condemnation, but simultaneously, slowly and supportively,
strengthening the awareness of the need for HONESTY that opens up the possibility for a
genuine AUTHENTIC CONTACT, the only one in which we grow, change, heal our wounds
and injuries, and overcome fears. Thereby we INTEGRATE our suppressed segments,
perceive our emotional reactions, which proceed to “collaborate with us” and serve us as an
infallible compass, and cease to be “monsters from the closet.” Naturally, this path is not an
easy one; however, the moment at which we can also say “nice to meet you” to ourselves
and actually feel it, is truly priceless.

Tihana Gamulin Ulaga, graduate student of Gestalt psychotherapy, IGW Centre, Zagreb


NICE TO MEET YOU... nice to meet you too…
Kada me Jelena pitala bih li na neki način sudjelovala u njezinu projektu i kada mi je ukratko
opisala svoj stvaralački proces, temu i koncept, odmah sam znala da želim. Iako tada još
uvijek zamagljen i ne dokraja jasan, proces mi se činio silno kr
eativnim i to je bio dovoljan
razlog da mu se, kao i mnogo puta do tada, odlučim vjerovati i prepustiti. Znala sam da se
tako može dogoditi nešto vrlo uzbudljivo. Godine beskompromisnog rada na sebi te Gestalt
edukacije, konstantno eksperimentiranje i pomicanje granica rezultirali su time da mogu s
uzbuđenjem i poštovanjem prihvatiti ovakve izazove, jer se ljestvica vrijednosti doživljaja
mojeg rada napokon nalazi prvenstveno u mojim rukama. Također sam znala i to da je za
mene najvažnije da nas dvije budemo zadovoljne i da naš terapijski odnos, započet pred
godinu dana iz Jelenine želje za dubljim istraživanjem emocija, kroz njezin projekt raste i
razvija se te da će to neizbježno polučiti rezultat iza kojeg ćemo moći stati i pokazati ga.
Kroz život uvijek su me gotovo magnetski privlačili ljudi koji su uživali u svojem poslu i
djelovanju, vjerojatno zato što su pronašli svoj poziv. Te ljude pokretala je strast te im krajnji
cilj, iako vrlo važan, nije bio u konstantnom fokusu, nije se uspijevao nametnuti kao fiksirana
ideja ili figura, već bi mu se samo nazirali obrisi. To je upravo ono što sam prepoznala kada
smo Jelena i ja počele raditi zajedno, vjeru da će se dogoditi nešto dobro, veliku strast,
zaigranost, znatiželju i povjerenje da smo na dobrom putu.
Poznato je da Gestalt psihoterapija vuče korijenje iz Gestalt psihologije, psihološkog pravca
nastalog dvadesetih godina prošlog stoljeća sa začetnicima Wertheimerom, Köhlerom,
Koffkom te Arnheimom koji je ujedno i najzaslužniji za primjenu geštaltističkih postavki u
umjetnosti i dizajnu. Sa svim tim na umu, moj je dojam da je Jelena otišla korak dalje od
poznatih geštaltističkih principa i njihove upotrebe u umjetnosti i, iz svog poziva, vrlo
prirodno „prošetala” mojim te izgradila jedan novi, interdisciplinarni Gestalt.

Kreativnost je trijumf raskoši pojedinca, njegova osjećaja da ništa nije nemoguće.
Kreativnost je slavlje života. Ona je hrabra je izjava: Ovdje sam! Volim svoj život! Volim
sebe! Mogu biti bilo što! Mogu učiniti bilo što! (Joseph Zinker, Creative Process in Gestalt
Therapy, 1978.)

Ideja portretiranja osobe u potpunosti, otvaranje i izranjanje figure/emocije kroz dijalog,
emocije koju Jelena prepoznaje kod modela i iznosi van te istražuje kao zasebnu cjelinu,
pružila mi je novi medij kroz koji sam promatrala vrlo opipljivo cikličku pulsirajuću prirodu
iskustva ljudskog kontakta. Dominantna figura izranja iz pozadine, zahtijeva pažnju i proradu
te potom ponovno uranja u pozadinu, dok se nova zanimljiva figura pojavljuje. Bilo je doista
dragocjeno iskustvo promatrati centralnu paradigmu Gestalt psihoterapije figure i pozadine
kroz ispreplitanje umjetničkoga stvaralačkog procesa i snage ljudskog kontakta.
U našem odnosu, kroz upoznavanje i terapijski rad, kao moćna figura nametnula se emocija
straha, koja je obojila brojne situacije i upetljavala se u Jelenin život naizgled niotkuda. Strah
je bio jak, djelovao je intenzivno, poput preplavljujućeg naleta dječje oluje koja nerijetko

djeluje gotovo paralizirajuće i povuče nas u regresivna stanja djeteta. U takvim stanjima
često se osjećamo kao da nemamo pristup svojim znanjima stečenim prijašnjim iskustvima,
intelektualnim resursima i strategijama za podnošenje frustracija, nezadovoljstva i tako
intenzivnih emocija. Taj strah djelovao je kao jak introjekt, „progutano i neprobavljeno” tuđe
uvjerenje. Mogli bismo to nazvati „porukom o životu” koju smo nebrojeno puta čuli u vrlo
ranoj dobi dok svijet doživljavamo isključivo kroz emocije i dok nemamo razvijeno kritičko
mišljenje i mogućnost selekcije ideja i vanjskih podražaja. Radile smo sa strahom, istraživale
ga. Jelena je spremno prihvaćala nove ideje i proradu svojih nezavršenih emocionalnih
poslova koji su nerijetko zahtijevali i konfrontaciju s ljudima iz bliske okoline. Sve to iziskivalo
je njezinu veliku hrabrost i povjerenje u naš rad, u mene te u vlastiti proces i kapacitete.
Pratiti Jelenu kako uživa u energiji i slobodi stečenoj ponovnim uspostavljanjem blokiranih
procesa donosilo je, usudila bih se reći, gotovo jednako oduševljenje meni kao i njoj samoj.
Između nije pomoćna konstrukcija, već stvarno mjesto i nositelj međuljudskih zbivanja; ono
nije naišlo na posebnu pažnju, jer u razlikovanju individualne duše i njezinog konteksta, ono
ne pokazuje jasan kontinuitet, već se uvijek iznova rekonstituira u odnosu na susrete ljudi
jednih s drugima. (M. Buber, Ti i ja, 1990.)
NICE TO MEET YOU – u atelijeru…
Odlazim u Jelenin atelijer gdje se ideja na neki način materijalizira. Ona me uvodi u svijet
svojih modela, njihovu zajedničku priču, svoj doživljaj njih i emocije koje izranjaju baš kao
figure tijekom stvaralačkog procesa, kroz dijalog, ali i kroz emocionalno prepoznavanje i
ponekad neizbježne projekcije. Konture krajnjeg cilja našeg procesa pomalo postaju oštrije i
naš proces postaje sve opipljiviji, stvarniji. Prepuštam se Jeleninim riječima. Jedino što
pokušavam jest biti potpuno prisutna te prepoznati i osvijestiti svoje emocionalne reakcije i
dojmove kako bih ih mogla podijeliti s Jelenom. Portrete doživljavam kao životne priče i
biografije, a emocije koje Jelena prepoznaje kao figuru, kao trenutačno najsnažniji
subjektivni dojam tih ljudi te potencijalne teme na kojima odnosi mogu rasti i produbljivati se
kao mogućnost za jedan sasvim novi kontakt. Kao što je rekao Erving Polster, jedan od
najvećih mislilaca Gestalt terapije: „Kontakt je pokretačka snaga rasta, alat za vlastitu
promjenu te promjenu doživljaja svijeta.” Odjednom postajem svjesna koliko je to hrabro.
Govorimo o ljudima koji su Jeleni bitni, koji se na neki način pristaju ogoliti. Pažnju nam
zaokupljaju detalji, oni predstavljaju emocije. Želimo voditi računa o modelima, a ujedno smo
vrlo svjesne potrebe da Jelena ostane iskrena prema sebi i autentična, brinući se istodobno
da ne izloži intimu drugih do razine koja bi njima bila uvredljiva ili previše izložena. Prepustile
smo se procesu neka nas vodi, surađivale i istraživale, dijelile ideje, izlagale se i ogoljivale
misli jedna pred drugom. I vjerujem da smo uspjele. Svaka emocija izronila je iz osobnog
doživljaja priče modela, bila je iskrena, autentična, lišena hiperprotektivnosti i za svaku je
bilo vrlo jasno odakle dolazi.
Kao svoju emociju Jelena prepoznaje strah. Kraj putovanja kroz seriju Nice to meet you na
neki način vraća nas na početak našeg terapijskog puta. Ali sada kao da govorimo o nekom
drugom, drugačijem strahu, strahu koji Jelena sada bolje poznaje, s kojim se može nositi,
čije je „porijeklo” mnogo jasnije. Strah s kojim se sada može nešto učiniti. Kao da taj strah
prerasta u uzbuđenje. Fritz Perls, osnivač Gestalt terapije, rekao je jednom prilikom: „Strah
je uzbuđenje bez daha”, što bi značilo da isti podražaji koji pobuđuju uzbuđenje, pobuđuju i
strah te da se svaki strah može pretvoriti u uzbuđenje dišemo li usto punim plućima.
Sukladno tome, uzbuđenje bez daha brzo će prerasti u strah. Kada smo uplašeni,

pokušavamo se brže-bolje „riješiti” tog osjećaja na razne načine. Zadržavanje daha jedan je
od fizičkih alata kojemu u tu svrhu priskačemo. Ovako gledajući, veza straha i uzbuđenja
ulijeva nadu da se vrijedi suočiti sa strahovima i da svatko od nas ima kapacitete za to. Kada
osjetimo strah, doista vrijedi obratiti pažnju i provjeriti dišemo li te ima li možda i štogod
uzbudljivo u izazovima ispred nas. Možda je upravo strah bio jedan od važnijih pokretača
Jelenine kreativnosti. Svakako vrijedi napomenuti kako se u polaritetu strahu nalazi hrabrost.
Na koncu, ovakva vrsta izlaganja i intimnog ogoljivanja, kako sebe tako i drugih, bez sumnje
zahtijeva i veliku hrabrost.

NICE TO MEET YOU – bilo mi je zadovoljstvo…
Kada pogledamo vrijednosti koje su inspiracija za Jeleninu seriju Nice to meet you nanizane
jednu ispod druge, upada u oči univerzalnost humanističkih vrijednosti i gladi današnjeg
društva za njima. Još jednom treba napomenuti, Jelenin rad isprepliće se toliko prirodno sa
svim idejama Gestalt psihoterapije. Gestalt je humanistički pravac koji se bazira na
KONTAKTU koji se uspostavlja i gradi kroz dijaloški proces u kojem, uz postupno
izgrađivanje povjerenja, potičemo AUTENTIČNO otvaranje i dijeljenje intimnog sadržaja
pojedinca, čitavo vrijeme vodeći računa o RANJIVOSTI, granicama i obrambenim
mehanizmima kojima se štiti od ponovnih povreda, potencijalnih retraumatizacija i
osuđivanja, ali polako i uz podršku, jačajući svijest o potrebi za ISKRENOŠĆU koja otvara
mogućnost za pravi AUTENTIČNI KONTAKT u kojem jedino rastemo, mijenjamo se,
iscjeljujemo svoje rane i povrede te prevladavamo strahove. Tako INTEGRIRAMO svoje
potisnute dijelove, shvaćamo svoje emocionalne reakcije koje počinju „surađivati s nama” i
služiti nam kao nepogrešivi kompas u životu i prestaju biti „čudovišta iz ormara”. Taj put,
naravno, nije lak, ali trenutak u kojem i sami sebi možemo reći „nice to meet you” i stvarno to
osjećati doista je neprocjenjiv.

Tihana Gamulin Ulaga, apsolventica edukacije iz Gestalt psihoterapije, Centar IGW, Zagreb

Jelena Bando — 2018