The exhibition was organised by the Croatian Civic Society of Montenegro and the Split branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, whose head Branka Bezić Filipović was on hand to speak of the life and work of this renowned sculptor
This exhibition, as a small but significant contribution to strengthening bridges between Croatia and Montenegro, has once again reaffirmed the universal nature of the language of culture – this, in short, is the best description of the backdrop to this event.
The exhibition was opened at the building of the Montenegrin culture ministry in Cetinje on the 9th of September as homage to Andrija Krstulović, a great sculptor and once a student in the atelier of Ivan Meštrović. Back in the 1950s Krstulović used Meštrović’s drawings as the basis for his sculpture from a single piece of granite of Njegoš and two caryatids, now standing proudly at the Njegoš mausoleum on Lovćen. Monumental sculptures from the formal period of “brotherhood and unity” left their eternal mark through the work of Split native Krstulović, known best in his native city for the sculptures in front of the hall of justice and the municipal hall and for the monument to the fallen soldier at Katalinića Brig. Branka Bezić Filipović, the head of the Split branch office of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, spoke of the work and life of famed sculptor Krstulović, relating an anecdote from the time of the Second World War that underlines the importance of culture. “When they told Churchill that he should scrap the culture budget in the face of wartime conditions and the general poverty he said, ‘Scrap the culture budget? What then are we to fight for?'” Bezić Filipović’s paraphrasing of this event was followed by an announcement of her own upcoming documentary film that offers a chronological look at this renowned sculptor who, thanks to Meštrović’s permission was able to use the atelier at Meje as his workplace.
As the chief co-organiser Tripo Schubert, the secretary of the Croatian Civic Society of Montenegro was, unfortunately, unable to attend the opening of this international exhibition due to a traffic accident. On hand in his stead was a representative of the group, Danijela Vulović. Montenegrin culture minister Pavle Goranović was also unable to attend. Deputy minister Dragica Milić spoke on his behalf of the strong cultural bonds between the two nations.
“Andrija Krstulović left an indelible mark in Montenegrin history and culture. He was able to make Meštrović’s idea a reality,” said Milić, noting the unbreakable cultural bonds between our neighbouring nations. Vesna Vičević of the Matica Crnogorska cultural institution offered a very comprehensive and instructive look at how the mausoleum on Mount Lovčen came to be the home of the work of Meštrović’s pen and Krstulović’s chisel.
“Would Mozart have been a musical genius had his work remained confined to the paper it was written on, if many master musicians had not breathed life into it over the centuries? So it is with the sketches made by Ivan Meštrović and brought to life through Split’s ‘master of the chisel’ Andrija Krstulović,” said Vičević. The exhibition was brilliantly set up by Split based academy educated sculptor and teacher Kažimir Hraste under the high patronage of the Montenegrin culture ministry. A touching foreword to the exhibition catalogue, ‘Homage to Andriji Krstulović’, was penned personally by Montenegrin culture minister Goranović. The exhibition, an intimate presentation of small sculptures and drawings, will be on show at the ministry building in Cetinje through to the 23rd of September.
Also on hand to perform at the opening were the talented members of the recently revived HDCG Tripo Tomas children’s mandolin orchestra of Kotor.
Text by: Lenka Gospodnetić