It is not an easy task to summarize the manifold opus, exciting professional career and life of Davor Džalto. Davor is primarily a thinker who critically, systematically and creatively investigates various artistic, philosophical and theological concepts to implement them in his analysis of our contemporary society and culture. He belongs to a younger generation of intellectuals who shaped his artistic and theoretical sensibility in various countries and cultural contexts. He was born in Travnik, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1992 he came to Niš where he continued his school years. Formal education as a graphic designer he obtained in the High School of Art. It was also there where he first learned about theology of icons and techniques of icon-painting, which made a deep and essential impact on his future work. During this time he was visiting many art workshops, and started experimenting in new media. He also became interested in philosophy, haiku poetry, Zen Buddhism and calligraphy. He was only eighteen years old when he published his first booklet “On Writing Systems,” which immediately became a textbook used in the School for courses in typography and calligraphy.
He graduated with distinction, demonstrating excellent results in both theoretical and practical subjects. Inspired by the Conceptual art and the expanded field of the artistic practice in the late twentieth century, he decided to continue his education at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, in the history of art department.
During his university years he traveled quite intensely, visiting sites across Europe. He intensified his work in performance, installations and video art, continuing working in traditional media as well, which resulted in his first one-man show in Belgrade, in 2000.
This was the time when he also started participating in international exhibitions. Being still a student, he attracted significant media attention with one of his performances. In 2002 he performed “The Funeral of an Author” as a comment upon the postmodernist “death of the author” discourse. He was literally buried inside a grave he dug, in a public park in Belgrade.
In 2003 he graduated from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, as the best Faculty student. For this achievement as well as for the overall study score, he received honors both from the Faculty of Philosophy and from the University of Belgrade. The following year marks the beginning of his “German period.” He moved to Freiburg, a famous German university town, where he was accepted by Prof. Angeli Janhsen, a specialist in the twentieth century art, for a PhD research in the history of modern and contemporary art. Although focused mostly on his research, he did not forget his artistic vocation. He took the opportunity to interact with the new surroundings – experimenting with the inspiring environment of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), he made his project “Icons in the Black Forest.” Another interesting work from this period, in an equally beautiful surrounding, was his action “Meditationen mit Ikonen und serbischem Kaffee im japanischen Garten” where he combined the pleasure of socializing and coffee drinking in a beautiful surrounding of the Japanese Garden in Freiburg, with creating art and reading haiku poetry. During this time he was occasionally presenting his works in Serbia too. His video “The Red Army” was screened at the 45th international October Salon in Belgrade. In 2005 he had another one-man show, presenting his video works at the Gallery of Students’ Cultural Center in Belgrade.
He finished writing his PhD thesis in Freibrug, in a record time, according to the available University statistics. He defended his dissertation in 2006, becoming the youngest doctor of philosophy in humanities in Germany, as reported by the newspapers and electronic media. He continued his brilliant academic career as the youngest university professor in the field of humanities in the ex-Yugoslav region – he was only 27 when he started teaching art history. Teaching at the same time at various institutions of higher education, he found time to prepare another exhibition, this time in Austria. Answering to the call from the Sodalitas center near Klagenfurt, he presented his first one-man exhibition of icons in 2008.
In the same year, 2008, he married Bojana Bursać. Family life did not interrupt his intense travelling and his research. Parallel to his duties as a university teacher he began writing his postdoctoral project at the Faculty of Theology, University of Münster.
In 2010 he opened another one-man show in Belgrade, titled “10/30” – signifying ten years since his first one-man exhibition in 2000, and thirty years of his life. This was a retrospective exhibition of his icons and “icon-like paintings” (as he prefers to call them).
As a visiting and honorary professor of art history, art theory and religion, he has thought at various institutions of higher education in Europe and the United States, including Indiana University and Fordham University of New York.
He is currently the president of the Institute for the Study of Culture and Christianity, a research associate at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade and an associate professor at the American University of Rome.