The face of the water – revisiting tradition

The artist is the creator of beautiful things, wrote Oscar Wilde. For the English writer all art is at once surface and symbol.

This sentence came to my mind when observing the work of Belgrade born artist Uros Sanjevic.

His recent pieces, made in Ebru, a centuries-old traditional art form, reminds you that those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

With this technique of painting on the water, which turns colors and shapes into imaginary worlds, he captures the moment in an unexpected way.

His works may be seen as purely decorative, but each spectator might discover symbols that he is the only one to know the meaning.

The artist is not creating the meaning, for him it is a spiritual journey that counts. A spiritual journey that he invites everyone to join in.

What is Ebru?

Ebru means face of water in Persian. It is a traditional art of paper decoration that comes to us from the16th century Ottoman era. For centuries, Ebru was used to illustrate books. Contemporary artists are using it as a technique that allows them to pursue their own quest for beauty.

How it works?

Ebru technique haven’t changed throughout history – paints, which do not dissolve in water, are manipulated with brushes into designs and then transferred to a sheet of paper.

The knowledge and skills are transmitted like in the old times – between the artist and his apprentice. Uros Sanjevic once learned it from a Turkish master Ali in his atelier overlooking the Bosphorus.

The process itself looks easy – anyone can learn the technique and play with shapes and colors almost immediately, but it takes about a year to master basic skills through informal practical training. Only than one can control the behavior of the paint and take it where he wants.


Since 2014 Ebru is on UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


A workshop invites you to learn this art craft of painting on the water and make it a personal experience. Weather you are going to develop it later, putting your signature in the work, or just enjoy the process of making the original pieces, this is an opportunity to learn something new using a technique which will give you a sense of freedom and stimulate your creativity. The unique prints can be beautiful on their own or used as material for more developed art projects.

If you like to book a workshop please e-mail to:


Uros Sanjevic finished his BA in Fine Arts (Glass dept) in Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and MA in Fine Arts (Glass dept) in Korean national university of Arts in Seoul, South Korea.

Although a trained artist, he was always receptive to new discoveries, which will have a great impact on his work. His curiosity led him to places from Amsterdam to Seoul, from Belgrade to Sao Paolo. The knowledge he was receiving he was giving back through his art.

He has participated in various exhibitions and residence programs all around the world (notably including the exhibition in the Stedlijk museum of contemporary art in Amsterdam, followed by auction at Christie’s).

He has wide range of working experiences in the field of Arts and Culture. He was the art director of cultural center in Nami Island, Korea and assistant to production designer in a number of theater plays and collaborated in Beijing Expo 2008.

Currently he has been dedicated in researching the ancient paper marbling technic Ebru in combination with digital print as a contemporary expression of his spiritual research, which led him to Brazil.

text by : Ana Otašević  chief editor BBC Belgrade Serbia