By Jocelyn WatersGaleria JAN, named for owner/artist/videographer Jan Beran, first opened on Oct. 1, 1986 in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (part of the former Yugoslavia). His wife, Biljana, is the director of the Prospect Street gallery in La Jolla that features the work of contemporary artists, both international and local.
In the last 25 years, Galeria JAN has traveled the world with the Berans — to Belgrade, Rome, Vienna and Croatia. In 1994, it moved with the Berans to California and opened in La Jolla in 1996, where it has remained for the last 15 years.
In celebration of the journey, Galeria JAN is showcasing work by Jan Beran in a retrospective titled, “Slow Train Coming.” It opened on Nov. 25 and continues through Dec. 31.
A decade in the making, Jan’s artwork is influenced by his witness of the Bosnian War and the transition to American life after becoming a refugee in Croatia. “Jan is mixing past and future,” Biljana explained, “they are histories.”
As a videographer, Jan has participated in more than 400 documentaries, covering Lebanon, Israel, Western Sahara, and the Bosnian War. During that time, he saw many beautiful works of art destroyed, which is why “he is interested in how one piece survives 3,000 years,” Biljana said.
Jan studied and practiced in Sarajevo, developing an interest in iconography that shows through the use of gold and silver leaf, rusted metal, and muted oils on wood, seen in “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” His works also feature the faces of woman, as in “Inside Looking Out,” which is a portrait of Biljana.
Two of Jan’s paintings are in the collection of the Sheikh of Dubai in Tel Aviv and many more are in collections around the world. Galeria JAN is the only gallery in the United States representing his work.
During their time here, the Berans have made a lasting impression on town with the honesty in their art collection, and through education. In 2008, Biljana found the “jewel in San Diego,” artist Taylor Marie Prendergast. She sent her to Europe to study with renowned artist Joze Ciuha and in 2009, Prendergast had her first exhibition at Galeria JAN. Since then, Prendergast continues to have shows at Galeria JAN, and also at other galleries and museums around the world. Her next exhibition at Galeria JAN will be in April 2012.
“I will take care of San Diego artists,” Biljana said.
In 2012, she will feature American contemporary artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana. She will also have works by Joze Ciuha (Slovania/France), Vladimir Velickovic (Serbia/France), Viacheslav Kalinin (Russia), Beck Guttin (Mexico/USA), Jan Beran (Bosnia/USA) and Prendergast (USA).
Retirement isn’t in the near future, but one day Biljana “would love to see my son take care of the gallery.” He is currently 28.
“For 25 years in business, I’d like to thank my husband and my son Bojan. In La Jolla, thank you a lot to my landlord, Mr. and Mrs. Considine, who are part of my family now after 15 years.”
If you go
Where:1250 Prospect St., Suite B21