The following article was produced in partnership with IWC Schaffhausen.
Alessandro Ljubicic didn’t waste a second getting his assignments done in university. So much so his teachers would give him extra work just to keep him busy. While the average art student might put off their assignments until the eleventh hour, Ljubicic knew the value of, or rather his, time.
As early as he can remember he’s been a tinkerer who loved pulling things apart just to find out what makes them tick. “At an early age, I always wanted to do something different, to explore. But it wasn’t until high school that I started taking art seriously,” he reminisces.
And it didn’t take long for his teachers to notice. “My teacher in grade eight said to me, ‘You’re going to be an artist… I can tell’,” he recalls. “I thought they were dreaming.”
As it turned out, that teacher was right. In just a couple of years, he was one of 60 students given the opportunity to attend the National Art School for an intensive two-week course. Fast forward a couple of years and he would return, this time to complete a degree in fine art. Upon graduation he passed up the opportunity to complete an honors degree, wanting to use his time to start his career.
Over the next six years, he would work on various projects while figuring out what was more important to him… And now, he’s one of the most dynamic and interesting artists in Australia.
When push came to shove, he worked out what he wanted to work on was the kind of art he himself would appreciate after a long day of work. “When I come home, what I want on my wall is something that can take me to another place,” he says. “I want to look at things that evoke emotion, things that I can connect with… When I look at the work I want to see happiness, joy and pride.”
What goes into a painting that invokes so many feelings? It took the first six years of Ljubicic’s career to find out. Initially, he would use only the bare minimum amount of paint. And then something clicked.
“It didn’t really represent who I was… Because I’m a bigger guy, who was involved in sport all my life, I wanted to do something more physical.”
The result? Much like Ljubicic, it’s large, explosive and carries its worth in weight. “Some of the works actually hold 50 to 100kg of oil paint so the work is absolutely crazy,” he says. It’s the kind of work that can’t be done with a standard brush.
“When I decided to use excessive amounts of paint, I threw those brushes away and actually started using pallet knives as my tools of the trade. This is when my art exploded,” he says.
The explosiveness of Ljubicic’s art is part of the reasons he’s made waves in his industry. His works are bright, colorful and almost feel like they’re about to jump off the canvas… In a good way, of course.
Some will recognise his work from Sydney Concord Hospital’s Cancer Ward. He admits getting it in there was no easy task: he had to convince various executives why a 4x6m canvas was necessary, let alone what kind of effect it would have on the patients.
“When you start a project like that, you have to look at shapes, color and balance. And when a patient sees the work, automatically it should lift them, it should bring hope,” he says.
“The patient should be able to say it’s taken me back 10 years ago to when my partner gave me flowers or when they gave them to somebody else.”
Of course, such large projects are no easy feat. “When I walk into the studio and I have a look at these canvases, they’re daunting,” he says. “When you’re doing a work that’s 4x6m, you’re not looking at the work from 2m away but rather you’re seeing it from 15 to 20m away.”
Ljubicic says once you’ve thought about the scale, then the work begins to form in your mind. “During the process, the shapes become objects, almost a representation of what I want them to be,” he says.
While the canvases may be different and the place the art is displayed, or rather worn, may vary, there are a lot of similarities between Ljubicic’s work and his IWC Schaffhausen watch, he says.
A couple of years ago he got to visit the IWC Schaffhausen Manufakturzentrum in Switzerland where their iconic timepieces come to life. “It was mind-blowing,” he says. “Inside, I learned about the type of oil used and the machines that make precision pieces.”
“Of course, when we wear watches, we think they’re amazing. But when you see how it’s made, it really puts things into perspective.”
Ljubicic said seeing the craft of a watchmaker first-hand reminded him a lot of the care he takes with his own work.
“We both really take pride in what we do. I feel like IWC have this amazing design and attention to detail,” he said. “There’s meaning behind each watch, much like how I feel about my work.”
And for any upcoming artists, he has one thing to say; “The biggest lesson I’d tell to any young artist or creative in any industry is to be true to yourself. If you’re trying to please or pretend to please someone to get ahead, people will see straight through that.”
“If you’re true to yourself and represent who you are, you will be accepted. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned.”
Discover the IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43 collection here.