HAD – Painting With Fire

Art conceived in the ashes of terror is invariably powerful. It has an urgency and pathos that delves deep into the psyche and elicits empathy so volatile, it erupts through indifference and demands that you shudder in anguish. It is primal. It is rare.

To get a taste of their work, watch the video above.

Who are HAD?

They are architect Hamo Bešlagic, fine artist Anel Lepic and the street artist Damir Sarac. From a small town nestled in a valley in the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina – called Visoko – these talented young men grew up aware of each other, but it was not till they worked together on an art project in 2015, that their artistic visions coalesced and so began a collaboration which is proving nothing short of phenomenal.

In purely visual terms, HAD are seriously talented. Yet their work transcends mere aesthetics and confronts the viewer with a much deeper reality – that is, the moral, emotional and psychological consequences of the human will to power and the pitiful aftermath in the lives of everyday people when that will goes unchecked…wherein trauma embeds itself in a community and ricochets through successive generations like a collective form of PTSD.

A mere 20 years since the Bosnian War (1992-95), HAD’s work draws on their intimate knowledge of its far-reaching consequences; yet, their art reaches beyond their own experience, providing deep psychological truths which are timeless, universal and accessible to all.

Picasso said of such art:

…[it] is not an aesthetic operation; it is a form of magic design as mediation between a strange hostile world and us. A way of seizing power, by giving form to our terror as well as our desire.


HAD’s latest project, Missing (seen in the act of creation in video above – which is itself a work of art…thanks to the exceptional talent of new-media artist and close friend of the collective, Ilhana Babic) forms part of a broader artistic vision, called Forgotten – which, in their own words, seeks to redress the ‘phenomenon of everyday people being left behind, alienated and abandoned by society…of being washed away.’

The setting for Missing, an abandoned grain tank – itself a casualty of war – on the outskirts of Visoko, serves as a fitting metaphor for the spiritual and psychological dereliction foisted upon those who go missing and the people who love them. HAD’s careful application of fire, compounds this stark reality and transforms the concrete ground at an elemental level; leaving an indelible representation of the annihilation of innocence.

It is a remarkable work of art; masterful for its artistic excellence, haunting in its beauty and powerful for its ability to convey meaning. What the viewer witnesses is not so much art-making, as conjuring; for HAD are more than artists…they are alchemists.

HAD’s other work is equally impressive and can be viewed on their website or Facebook page. I highly recommend following the latter, as their work to date is only the beginning…and they have big plans. They have caused a storm in their home-town and in the wider Bosnia and Herzegovina community and have already begun to receive international recognition. Their success is well deserved and I for one cannot wait to see what they do next.


Video and photo used with permission of HAD.

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