Kaja Horvat’s esoteric illustrations depict hidden realities that tap into the collective unconscious. In exploring these psychedelic utopias, the young Slovenian artist uses her masterful form to re-find that sense of wonder one feels all too rarely. Today, Kaja brings it back, and sheds light on her artistic journey and inspirations.

You say that the recurring elements that are starting to define your style are often described as “romantic mysticism.” Can you elaborate on what this term means and how it manifests in your artwork?

Romantic mysticism was just one of the descriptions of my style that I’ve heard from people. They have also described it with words like dreamy, ethereal, sensual, archetypal, and surreal. It’s always interesting to hear how people perceive my creations, as I have never concerned myself with what my artistic expression should be or how it should be defined. Nor do I want to define it, as I always want to leave the door open for change and development. With my work, I merely aim to create certain atmospheres that I wish were more present in our everyday life.

Intriguingly, you often use yourself as the medium in your animations, becoming the actor. What led you to take on this role, and how does it contribute to your creative process? How do you balance the personal and practical aspects of this approach?

This approach evolved quite spontaneously, emerging from playful exploration, yet I can identify several reasons behind it. Firstly, this way of working allows me a lot of self-exploration; by embodying diverse roles, I continuously establish a relationship with my psyche and how I physically present myself. Secondly, through these animations, I satisfy my own longing for a specific state or atmosphere, often projecting myself into a particular, mostly surreal, space where I wish to be. Thirdly, I believe this method also facilitates a stronger connection between viewers and the intended atmosphere, as they can project themselves into my character. The final reason is simply practicality; I am always readily available as my own subject.  

Your work creates surrealistically ideal atmospheres, maybe even utopian, yet very real in your head. Can you share more about the themes and atmospheres you explore in your animations, and what emotions or experiences you hope to evoke in viewers?

I primarily focus on themes that evoke in me feelings of wonder, a sense of hidden realities that are not as apparent in our daily lives. I set no boundaries on the themes I explore. Currently, the dominant themes involve investigating physicality, sensuality, a return to primal origins, and connectivity…

To put it succinctly, I am in search of childlike wonder, or the sacred, within the everyday or mundane, and upon recognizing it, my goal is to communicate that sense to the viewer.

You mentioned playing with various symbols in your work, reviving old ideas rather than creating anything entirely new. Could you elaborate on how you draw inspiration from old alchemical drawings, prehistoric art, mythologies, surrealism, tarot, Christian mysticism, and other sources?

And we’re back to the sensation of wonder, all that has been described stirs this exact feeling within me. I believe this sensation played a more significant role in the daily lives of people in certain historical eras. My exploration focuses on the symbols through which this feeling was manifested. I hold the view that numerous such symbols are still hidden in our collective unconscious and it’s not so difficult to tap into them, to make them communicate with us again.  This pursuit of reawakening and connecting with these symbols forms the core of my work.

Can you walk us through your journey from studying graphic design to specializing in illustration and animation? What motivated you to explore these different fields within visual communication?

Since childhood, artistic expression has always been present and I have had numerous hobbies (from dancing, singing, painting, filming, crocheting, sewing…) and I still have them. Feeling the need to specialize in some form of visual expression, I initially chose the “safe” option – studying graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I encountered animation during my master’s in illustration, which currently represents my primary medium of creation. This medium allows me unlimited expression and the integration of all my hobbies and interests, as it combines elements of illustration, video, graphic design, sound, and sometimes even acting and dancing. I feel that this way, I can most effectively communicate what I desire.

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Kaja Horvat is 25 years old and lives in the capital city of Slovenia. After finishing high school, she initially studied Design of Visual Communication, specializing in Graphic Design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Ljubljana. After completing her Bachelor studies, she enrolled in a Master’s program in Design of Visual Communication, specializing in illustration. She is currently in the process of completing her studies – all she needs to do is write her Master’s thesis.


Artist / Kaja Horvat

Interview / Markéta Kosinová

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