FROM SHEEPHERDING TO THE ARTISTIC THRONE IN ONLY A DECADE
In late 19th Century, a shy and introverted boy was born in, nowadays Croatian, village of Vrpolje. Not long after he was sheepherding, he became one of the most renowned world’s sculptors of all times. His skilled hands, charged with a genius talent of which even the big master Auguste Rodin said to be »the greatest phenomenon among sculptors«, brought him to the artistic capitals of the world. To this day, Ivan Meštrović’s artworks continue to render him unparalleled among his contemporaries. His work co-shaped artistic scenes in several European countries and the USA, where he pursued his artistic path.
This was Ivan Meštrović, an artist genius of the 20th Century whose work still inspires the today’s brain. The selection of his works, exhibited in Cankarjev dom – Cultural and Congress Centre Ljubljana from mid February until late May 2018, includes over fifty works, sculptures and drawings from private and public Croatian collections. The exposition offers a new insight into Meštrović’s masterful art and contributes to the scientific study of Meštrović’s Mediterranean sensuality expressed in his work depicting nudity and eroticism, often underlined with the story of human life from birth to death.
As the curators of the exhibition note, “human body is the main source of inspiration to Ivan Meštrović. Regardless of the stylistic orientation and thematic framework, the sculptor invariably explored the mystery of the body. Corporeality and eroticism in sculpture constitute a prominent segment of his entire body of work,« with which, »he actually refers to the primordial human need to create and procreate life, to attain eternity.«
ENHANCED VIEWING EXPERIENCE
A subtle touch, as subtle as Meštrović’s creation of »massive forms and large surfaces on which the light is content to lie quietly,« as the New York Times wrote about Auguste Rodin’s famous pupil in the memoir dedicated to Rodin in 1917*, the curators of the current exhibition used a special lighting scheme to highlight all the subtleties of Meštrović’s work and enhance the viewing experience.
It is so powerful that the first thing coming to mind is the surprising realisation that »THIS kind of exchange in illuminating the exhibits should be ALWAYS used in the sculpture exhibitions.« And from there it only gets better: from Adam, to Two Widows, to the Old Woman and to the Well of Life. An endless circle of human dignity, love, passion, pain and persistance. It reminds the observer of the things that matter and are worth pursuing. The brain is charged, the mind is ready for tracking new beginnings and new achievements. To persist, to create, to be aware of oneself. Isn’t that what life is all about?
*New York Times, November 25th, 1917: “Rodin Leaves Pupil to Continue in His Steps. Ivan Mestrovic, Young Serbian Sculptor, Is Authoritative Leader of New School of Sculpture”.