Maja Ruznic (b. 1983 Bosnia & Hercegovina) immigrated to the United States in 1995, settling in California. When the war in Bosnia started in 1992, Ruznic and her mother fled immediately, living in refugee camps in Austria until they eventually arrived in San Francisco in 1995. She went on to study at the University of California, Berkley (2005), later receiving an MFA from the California College of Arts (2009). Ruznic currently lives and works in New Mexico, USA.
Ruznic is predominantly a painter, drawing on personal and collective memories to create works that deeply connect with human psyche. Allowing for figures to emerge from the thin layers of oil paint she applies to the canvas, the characters seemingly coalesce with their environments. She describes the process of painting as trying to remember a dream, touching on Bracha L. Ettinger’s theories of ‘matrixial borderspace’: the space of shared effect and emergent expression, across the thresholds of identity and memory.
Ruznic deftly weaves themes of trauma and suffering with mythology and healing, softening the darker subject matter in her work. This softening is then applied to the process of painting – scumbling, blurring and allowing shapes to bleed into one another – symbolically destabilizing borders. Playing with ambiguity, the paintings lie on the threshold of form, which Ruznic compares to a thought or a feeling that precedes language. She looks to evoke transitional moments, like dawn and dusk, containing illuminating and eternal qualities. This timelessness permeates the paintings, tracing journeys and rituals, histories and secrets. Nostalgic and empathetic, the works ultimately speak of human experience.
Ruznic has exhibited internationally and her work has been written about extensively, most notably in Artforum, ArtMaze Magazine, Juxtapoz, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Studio Visit Magazine, and twice in New American Paintings. In 2018, Ruznic was a recipient of the Hopper Prize. In 2019, Dallas Museum of Art, TX, USA and The US Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina acquired her work for their collections. In 2021, Ruznic had her debut institutional show In the Silver of the Sun at The Harwood Museum of Art, Rosewell, NM, USA. Later this year her work is included in the group exhibition, Hi Woman! at the Museo di Palazzo Prato, Italy.