Maja Vrzina was born on the 24th September 1974 in Split, Croatia. After the civil war, she moved to Zagreb to study finance at the University of Economics. In 1999 Maja moved to London where she eventually secured a job in financial media before turning her back on the business world to concentrate fully on her career as an artist.

Maja is a self-taught painter and studied the craft of gold leaf gilding under the personal tutorage of master gilder, David Duncan. Maja works with black ink and acrylic on large white canvas set within bespoke hand gilded 22 and 23 1/4 carat gold leaf frames. She also applies this gilding technique to her sculptural pieces.

Maja first exhibited her work in 2008 as part of The London Arts Project “Hope in Life” in collaboration with the charity SHP (Single Homeless Project) at The Black Rat Press Gallery in London. In 2010 her art was commissioned by FEANTSA, The European Federation of National Organisations Working with Homeless People. One of her works – ‘Faith and Hope’ appeared on the front cover of the summer edition of their publication in 2010. In 2012, the same organisation used one of her works for their conference on migration and used it on posters, flyers and their website for the conference.

Maja held a very successful exhibition of her work at The Strand Gallery in London’s famous West End in September 2013 under the title ‘XXXIX’. The exhibition was well attended and accolades were seen in the press and other media outlets. David Franchi of the London Art Review wrote: ‘These works are striking and reveal a good style[…] her work on paintings clearly reflects the Aesthetic and the Art Nouveau Movement styles’.

In May/June 2017 Maja and her artwork went to Zagreb in Croatia and the work was exhibited at the Prsten Gallery in downtown Zagreb. The gallery is the home of the Croatian Association of Artists. The exhibition bore the title ‘RULE OF THREE’. The gallery’s curator, Iva Körbler, spoke and wrote excitedly about the exhibition which was received with acclaim.  Ms Körbler said: ‘If we were, for example, to compare Maja Vrzina’s art with Nives Kavuric Kurtovic’s drawings based on their spiritual relationship, then we could clearly see the inclination towards the so-called idea of balance of life experience in Maja’s work. Here the existence does not end in darkness and nothingness, but the possibility of a new life brings it closer to the drawing oeuvre of Snjezana Kodaric Ivankovic’. Again the press, radio and television covered the artist and her work. 

Maja’s work is heavily influenced by the personal and often tragic events that have shaped her life, exploring the extremes of human nature, love and hate, joy and sorrow, the individual and society, freedom and control, male and female sexuality, truth and lies, life and death. Maja continually strives for an equal partnership or “perfect marriage” between these opposing forces in her art in order to achieve a similar sense of balance and understanding in her life. These themes are further developed through her interest in the relationship between frame and painting. There are no shades of grey. All the years of her life have been about extremes. She has known great pain, fear, and loss and also experienced joy, love, and ecstasy. She became an artist because she needed to understand these powerful opposing forces and find a way to express her deepest and most personal thoughts and feelings.

The paintings, which start out as a large white canvas, let the darkness in as she applies the black ink and acrylic, only stopping when she feels she has achieved a sense of balance between light and darkness, hope and despair, even life and death. By adorning her art with hand-gilded gold leaf she brings her paintings and sculptures to life and celebrates the subject matter and themes she explores, with respect and even glorification. She believes it is only by fully embracing all of herself, the good and the bad, the dark and the light that she will truly find love and happiness.

In the words of Iva Körbler: ‘Maja Vrzina’s oeuvre proves that sometimes we have to go far from our roots in order to come back refined with different, mature and courageously acquired life and artistic perception of things. Because, without a doubt, this artist has a great artistic and creative potential of a clearly recognisable and already well formed personal style’.

In April 2017, Andrew Acquirer, Chartered Arts Surveyor, with over 40 years of experience in art appraisal, valued Maja’s collection at a very significant amount of money.


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Photography by Croatian Embassy in London