Srđan Tunić

art historian, freelance curator, cultural manager and researcher

Ukiyo-E between Pop Art and (Trans)cultural Appropriation: On the Art of Muhamed Kafedžić (Muha) 2017

I have the pleasure to announce that my article – unintentionally – is the first “Report from the Field” feature of Transcultural Studies journal (2017, no. 1), published by Heidelberg University Publishing. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the managing editor Andrea Hacker and Anna Larsson, for their amazing work, time, dedication and professionalism that made this process one of most pleasing ones so far in my writing career.

This is English translation of the research essay, originally published in Serbian in 2015, in journal Kultura #147 dealing with context in art and media. It is also a continuation of collaboration with Sarajevo-based artist Muhamed Kafedžić Muha (you can find more about our previous work together on this blog).

The whole article is available online – as html and pdf – and can be found here:

An except from the editorial note by Diamantis Panagiotopoulos with Rudolf Wagner:

Our journal’s first “Report from the Field” is written by Srđan Tunić and is dedicated to the oeuvre of Muhamed Kafedžić, a Sarajevo-based artist with an extraordinary hybrid style which absorbs Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock printing (seventeenth through nineteenth centuries) as well as American pop art (twentieth century), predominantly by Roy Lichtenstein. Tunić, who collaborated with the artist between 2012 and 2015, provides a vivid analysis of the paintings focusing on the intentions behind them rather than their impact. Excerpts from discussions with the artist are complemented by the author’s thoughtful analysis, which demonstrates how Kafedžić’s paintings are a reaction to his own society and its visual tradition. The artist himself, an absolute outsider in his local milieu, explains that by appropriating alien images he had no ambition to become a Japanese Ukiyo-e painter but to use specific “exotic” motifs in order to articulate his own messages more effectively. He understands this artistic escape not in negative terms but as a creative response to his environment, being convinced that a transcultural attitude can enrich his own culture. It becomes apparent that the raison d’être of reproducing Japanese prints and American pop art in modern Bosnia and Herzegovina is firmly situated not in an international milieu but in a local context. Taking this oeuvre as a case study for complex transcultural processes, the author discusses different types of appropriation. He concludes that Kafedžić’s work is an example of assimilative appropriation that affirms the value system of the original.



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