Palmižana: A Paradise for Sculptors
One of the more surprising discoveries on a first time visit to Palmižana is the vibrant cultural scene at Meneghello. There are exhibitions and other cultural events throughout the year, with many visiting artists (click here for the 2012 programme).To learn more about the art and cultural scene, follow them on Facebook. Meneghello also has a long history of sculpture, as Dagmar Meneghello explains:
"In the distant seventies the Palmižana terrace was marked by numerous birds, fish and maidens by a Rijeka artist Vojo Radoičić (1930). The artist spent many summers on the rocks of St. Clement, went by boat to Palmižana bays and collected driftwood, which he transformed into very imaginative statues. He even drew and published a children's book named "The bay" about it. The book directs the children towards the neccessity of caring for nature, especially the sea.
A great classic Angeli Radovani (1916) also often moored in the Palmižana bay, while the oversized "Aci" marina for too many boats still didn't destroy a century old forest and the sea. His "Bocce bowler" is reminiscent of many idle summer afternoons while the time passed in throwing the small wooden ball. The bronze Bocce bowler is even more powerful than his round Dunjas. Her breasts looking like two stopped bocce...
Belizar Bahorić (1920) also spent his summers on Palmižana and had placed monster-like sculptures made of broken tree branches. He hadn't conserved them. "They are a part of nature. Like trees, they will last and vanish in time." And disappeared they have through forty years of the northern and southern winds, along the summer vehemence.
But his tall, bronze Eva (1956) and the sculptures inspired by Dante's "Divine commedy" will still ispire numerous generations to come. "Until I saw the wonders, made of nice things, nesting in the sky, through a round orifice, where we came out, to watch the stars." He named it so, believing like the Italian poet that love is "the force moving the Sun and the other stars." Here at the center of the Mediterranean, in the Hvar sky, not only is there a lot of sun, but also the sparkle of the stars reflecting in the night sea.
Porcelain, bronze, clay, wood and wax sculptures, splendid in shape and craftsmanship, by Zvonimir Lončarić (1927) have often been displayed on the Palmižana terrace as well as the redhaired statues of small women by Ivana Jelačić (1918).
We shouldn't forget a purebred artist - Ivan Lesiak (1929). His sculptures have always been lyrical and dreamy, even when they depicted public toilets or sexual intercourse. The gentle - "sleeping baby" was accompanied by "the flying lovers". He cured ceramics, wanting to make small souveniers of silver and porcelain. In the late fifties he offered to the city of Zagreb to make a large public sculpture "Aristotel's Alexander fornicates with Cleopatra", which should stand for the hippy "make love not war". Of course, the statue was rejected. In the late seventies Lesiak thought it would look pretty on Palmižana, but I couldn't realize that project due to many difficulties at that time. I could already see the Pharisee scorn and giddy joy of the people that would recognize the artist - a purehearted erotomaniac - in it. We have printed a graphic sheet, that nobody wanted to hang for years, even as a gift.
Vojo Radoičić is still sculpting, but all the other great classics born at the beginning of the last century are unfortunately gone.
The island collection have then enriched the sculptors born in the middle of the 20th century, who started to create in the eighties - four sculptors from Hvar: Kuzma Kovačić (1952), Peruško Bogdanić (1949), Slavomir Drinković (1951) and Nikša Barišić (1953) - with their first works of art, while they were still unknown and on the way to the Salon of the Young. In 1977, just before the young Kuzma Kovačić went to serve in the army, I bought one of his first works "The sea is sweating in bloody sweat", that through a negligence didn't end up in Palmižana collection. A statue of light arrived instead of it, "One fresh day" made of glass. That sculpture, among other works of that time "emphasizes the sculptor's strong connection with the birth island Hvar and its very Mediterranean features: blue sea, spatiousness and light. And his undoubted connection to traditional sculpting values as well as values created by the great contemporary authors, especially postmodern.", quote from the exhibition catalogue.
Back then. in the eighties, a big travertine statue by Kuzma Kovačić, very erotic, simplynamed "From nature", entered the Palmižana collection. Also, a few sculptures by Peruško Bogdanić, close to ten works by Nikša Barišić, a talented Hvar artist who rather lived absolutely bohemian unconcerned for his career and has died unrecognized in his fifties.
A few sculptures, a sculpting excursion of the famous painter Zlatan Vrkljan (1955), made of plaster that was partially painted and have been exhibited in 1980 in the gallery of the "Student Center" named "Objects of the game" have not missed Palmižana. The critics didn't like them, thinking they are on the verge of arte povero, just "crude and rough forms devoid of Klee's fragility". Josip Depolo
Painter Boris Švaljek (1951) also experimented in sculpture then. His "Aquarium with a dangerous fish" stayed on Palmižana. Dora Kovačević (born in the same year) made in the eighties beautiful mobile objects made of colored wood. Sadko Hadžihasanović, a member of the Sarajevo group "Bell", had made music boxes with an erotic contens.
In 2003 on Palmižana had peacefully created a famous Italian sculptor, Andrea Picini (1935). His nude made of Palmižana stone had been stolen out of malice, the thieves didn't even realize what it represents. Another famous sculptor, Ferdi Giardini (1959) from Torino, comes to this very day and makes abstract plexyglass sculptures. He also designes, especially light bodies that have brought him world fame. He represented his country on the Venice biennale last year. Ferdi Giardini left "Palmižana shells" to Palmižana.
The terrace changed its look with abstract marble sculptures of women by a Korčula sculptor Ante Marinović (1947) and wood and coloured fiberglass sculptures, "the Touch" and "Sweet fatigue", by an Istrian artist Josip Diminić (1937). Large chickens by Editha Merle (1940.) have whitstood decades of air woven with sea salt and still decorate Palmižana space.
There is a scale model on the terrace by a world known artist Dina Merhav (1936) for " the Embrace", dedicated to the charismatic life of Juraj Meneghello Toto. This artist of Croatian descent, whose works, sometimes 20 meters high, decorate numerous Israeli and Chinese cities, has made also the large sculpture in "Končar" factory in Zagreb. It has 7 meters in height, weighing 7 tons. It arrived to Split - now we have to make a strategy of the transport to the island. Another smaller sculpture named "The Guardians of the Island of the sea dew" enriches Hvar's landscape, a huge gift to our country's cultural heritage.
Through the forest on St. Clement already fly the birds, flamingos, by the young Ana Schaub (1983).
For the Palmižana garden Petar Hranuelli is preparing a huge Venus on a polyester swing, and Petar Dolić a beached diver made of stone, while the princess of pop - Nikolina Ivezić (1970) considers how to make a small sculpture of Adam and Eve into a large one resistant to the passage of time in nature.
Palmižana and the artists are looking for new paths. Some of the steps will be made together. The island has always been a perfect anchorage of sculptors, especially the young ones before their sailing on the cultural seas, often turbulent and vast.
The history of exhibitions and Palmižana acquisitions will stay in the exotic arboretum of plants and sculptures for the ones who will want to meet them."