Jel Ena is a Serbian born artist based in Los Angeles, California. She works in various mediums predominately painting and illustrating women in various sensual poses giving them a confident sexuality – unapologetic and sincere. The men throughout her work are sparse and subtle and often supporting her leading females. Their angst and their distant gazes weigh down their natural supple frames giving her pieces a delicate and intimate moment of clarity. When asked about her family artist lineage and about what it took to attend Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, Jel Ena had this to say:
You come from a family lineage of artists. Both of your parents have been successful artists back in your hometown in Serbia. How was it growing up with both parents being artists and how has it influenced your work ethic? It was rather interesting and I believe it to be a unique experience. Their passion for art was contagious; their excellent work ethic was not just an example to us, but also to many young artists that my parents were in contact with. My dad was teaching figure drawing at the Academy of Applied Art in Belgrade and my mom consulted art students privately. Even though they worked very hard on their careers they made it look almost effortless to my brother and I. What was more important for them to convey to us than working hard was working smart, because they were primarily working for themselves. I soaked up everything they said or did like a sponge – from their art discussions and critiques early in the morning with cups of coffee, all the way to making business decisions. They were rather progressive for their time and they included us in everything when we were pretty young. I think that this gave us an amazing boost in our confidence and a reason to take them even more seriously and follow their path. I learned almost everything about art and the business of art from them. The wealth of their knowledge and experience that they shared with me wasn’t available in any art school at that time in Europe.
You attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. The art school is well known for its emphasis on tradition. Tell us about your how you were introduced to the prestigious school and what it took to be accepted. In the former Yugoslavia, in order to be taken seriously as an artist at the time one was required to attend and graduate from some of the prestigious art academies in the country. My decision was to try my luck and apply to the same (very traditional at that time) art academy my parents attended. The admission process was grueling. We had five days of drawing and painting live models and still life and we were graded on our work based off those five days – plus we had to submit an elaborate portfolio for review. I was fortunate enough to be one of the accepted students among 300 applicants.
Your current exhibition ‘Sanctum Infernum’ was at Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. I heard that there were some very interesting people in attendance. What was the reception like and where there any moments especially endearing to you? First of all I was thrilled to have met Stephen Romano (gallery owner) in person. He did so much for me and my art in the last year especially for my solo show – not just in organizational way but by being part of my creative process when solidifying ideas for the show. Stephen’s constant support and trust provided me with a confidence to bring this show to life with the best of my abilities in such a short time frame. The opening of the show was fascinating to say the least. According to Stephen’s estimate about 350+ people attended the show. An hour or so into the opening the gallery was already full of people. I was fortunate to meet some amazing artists that I only knew through their online portfolios or social media sites. They were kind enough to attend my opening while also supporting the talented artists that were exhibiting in the “Magica Sexualis” show which was exhibited at the same gallery simultaneously. What was also fascinating was that the reception was attended by notable celebrities in the occult world, including the high priest Peter H. Gilmore with whom I had an honor to meet and chat in person along with some of the followers. There were so many wonderful people in attendance that I could not keep track of everyone but it was a fantastic evening.
Jel Ena has exhibited in various galleries thoughtout the world including Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco, California and often contributes work to shows at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, California. To purchase works by Jel Ena’s ‘Sanctum Infernum’ show, email Stephen Romano directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jel Ena’s work will be featured in BloPop Magazine’s Volume Two edition. The magazine will be released on April 1, 2016.