Ljerka Galic, CHF director Marin Knezović, Rešetari Literary & Visual Arts Society president Ivan De Villa and the artist’s friend Manda Bunjevac presented the exhibited works and spoke about the artist.

Ankica Šimatović Bjelica’s first exhibition in Zagreb opened at the Croatian Heritage Foundation on the 26th of October. On hand for the event were representatives of the State Office for Croats Abroad, the Montenegro Association of Zagreb, Rešetari friends and art enthusiasts.
Art historian and head of the CHF emigrant heritage section Ljerka Galic opened the event and spoke of the exhibited work and the artist.
Welcoming “guests, promoters of cooperation between Croatia and Montenegro and aesthetes” the director of the Croatian Heritage Foundation Marin Knezović MSc noted that, “the way in which we respond to life’s challenges says much about us. To hardship, war and unrest many people respond with callousness, contempt or, at best, resignation. It is hard to resist the initial instinct and not return evil for evil, to respond with a conciliatory, gentle voice. It is, in fact, gentleness that is the basic impression one gets from the paintings of Ankica Šimatović Bjelica. Gentleness and conciliation is not something that attracts attention or that leaves an immediate impression, but in relationships between people and nations it creates the foundations for long-term cooperation and friendship. The quiet painting of Ankica Šimatović Bjelica reaffirms precisely these values.”
Ivan De Villa, the long time and agile president of the Rešetari Literary & Visual Arts Society of Rešetari, organiser of the well-known and esteemed Rešetari Meeting of Poets, thanked the host Croatian Heritage Foundation for thirty years of cooperation in bringing poets and painters together in their native homeland. He expressed his hope that this would continue in the future to the benefit of the broader culture scene.
Speaking on behalf of the artist, who was, unfortunately, unable to attend the opening, was her friend Manda Bunjevac. She spoke of her recollections of their shared childhood and expressed her admiration and respect for the talent that Ankica had demonstrated early on and which fully developed in her retirement.
Ms Šimatović Bjelica was born in Adžamovci near Nova Gradiška in 1948. She attended elementary school in Rešetari, secondary school in Nova Gradiška and went on to study art history in Belgrade before permanently settling in Nikšić, Montenegro, where she worked as a secondary school teacher. She has exhibited five times since her first solo showing in 1997. Following her showing this year in Rešetari the exhibition at the CHF is her first showing in Zagreb. Bjelica is also active in digital photography presented at an impressive PowerPoint presentation.

Text by: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek; Photos by: Snježana Radoš