My name is Milan Keleuva. I was born in Glina on 11.March 1979.year.For those of you uninitiated in geography, it is in Croatia. Now I live in Kosjeric, Serbia.I live here since 1995.god.By calling I am auto mechanic(but don’t call me to repair your car). By profession I am painter,by hobbyist photographer and when I have time a bicycle rider. Until now I have had a few independent exhibitions and I have participated five times in Muster of Amateur Artists of Zlatibor district.
I grew up without parents. My brother , sister and I lived in Petrinja in a orphanage from 1985. to 1988.when our aunt adopted us and we came to Glina to live with her.
I started with painting, in fact with drawing, in 1993. The reason I started to draw is a little interesting.My best friend and I drew together a caricature of one very ugly, two-toothed , big-nosed man with 3 hairs on his head.This ugly man laughed at one girl who I liked . So I continued to draw various combinations of ugly caricatures, because of course I really enjoyed her company. It was a good way to keep her near me and it worked.She was an inspiration for the start of art in my life. I don’t think that she is aware of it. Anyway, she left my life , but the art stayed. I thank her. It would be the answer an often asked question in my life „how did you begin to paint?“
During the war in Croatia was no electricity for watching TV. I spent lot of time reading books and of course drawings. I had breaks for a few months,even a year not making one drawing then periods of inspiration when I made hundreds. To my regret all these drawings were left in Glina when we left in 1995. because of the war.I hope they are on someone’s wall, and did not finish up in a fire.I would like to see these drawings again.
One year had pass since “The Storm”(“Oluja”),and had not done even one more drawing.I asked myself a question: „Man,you used to draw,why have you stopped?“ I didn’t know the answer to that question, but I took a pencil and drew the same ugly big-nosed man like the first time 3 years ago ,then a second , and a third….. Each new drawing was better and better.
For many years I lived in collective center for refugees. I made several hundreds of drawings there. In November 2000. I was thinking “Who am I? Where am I?….What to do?” . I was 21 years old-and living in a refugee center.On Varda. 18 km from Kosjeric. Unemployed. Bad perspective. What to do? The only idea I liked was: I WANT TO BE A PAINTER. To paint and to sell paintings. To live . So I made „River in the fog“. I started to paint, but now look,I was not able to sell them. Maybe my paintings are not so good as I thought! Now what? Maybe to find a job? So I began to search for work and I found it. 18 months I travelled every day almost 40 km to my work and back. Hitch-hiking,searching for a way to come home(as if you can refugee center call “home”), travelling in the coldest winter and warmest summer. I didn’t give up painting. As I was coming home I took pencil and drew. I even managed to sell some paintings. O.K. I sold them cheap but still they were sold.
On 19th.January 2003. I had my first exhibition in Kosjeric. For me a huge step. There was 80 visitors at the exhibition. For Kosjeric very successful , particularly because the temperature was -20 outside.The name of the exhibition was „Black and White world“.There was exhibited 20 paintings.
In october 2004.I went to Zlatibor to visit Božo Kovačević, a famous painter, to evaluate my paintings , to say is it good what I am doing,To give me some advice, suggestion or idea.His only objection was that I should colour . The painting I painted that moment „Walker“ he liked very much. It was not finished yet.He said: „As it concerns me, this painting as it is now , is finished“….“I SEE THAT YOU HAVE GIFT, ONLY ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU IS PAINT,JUST PAINT!“ he said. After speaking with him I got huge amount of selfconfidence.
Let me be clear, at that moment I painted only black-white paintings. The first painting in colour („Jedrenjak“) I made in maj 2005. Black -white is my favourite style , but for commercial I hade start with colours. I was able to sell that black and white not. I put colours after many persuasion and it was good move. Obrad B. Jovanović , academic painter gave me first oil colours and some advice how to paint with it. it was all new for me , but I manage to fit in quickly.
Mainly, it has come a moment when I can live of my paintings. Every year is getting better and better.