Chilean painters of Croatian extraction Lea Kleiner and Jorge Milošević Díaz have exhibited their work at the culture centres and museums of the Chilean capital of Santiago for the past two months.
Chile is home to the second largest community of people of Croatian ethnic background in South America. Chilean painters of Croatian extraction Lea Kleiner and Jorge Milošević Díaz have exhibited their work at the culture centres and museums of the Chilean capital of Santiago for the past two months.
The Revelación de una mirada (“Revelation of a Gaze”) exhibition by academy educated painter Kleiner opened at Viña Santa Rita’s Museo Andino on 8 February in metropolitan Santiago de Chile. Lea Kleiner, a Croatian-born Chilean artist exhibited a multicoloured repertoire of paintings and photography. The motifs and technique of her art are diverse. The common thread of this exhibition are the unique style and views of the artist, uniting her three loves: aquarelle, engraving and photography. Born in Zagreb in 1929, Lea moved from Zagreb’s Ilica street to Chile in 1939. She studied art at the university in the Chilean capital, where she lives to this day. Although she has no close relatives in Croatia, she has visited the country on a number of occasions.
Santiago de Chile is also home to other artists of Croatian extraction that have seen their work exhibited at prestigious culture venues in the capital. One of these is Jorge Milošević Díaz, also an established academy educated painter. He is the descendent of Croatian immigrants. An exhibition of his work was installed in January of this year at the Taller de Artistas (“Artist’s Workshop”) at the Corporación Cultural de Las Condes (“Las Condes Cultural Corporation”), one of the top art venues in Santiago. Jorge’s grandfather Antonio Milošević Butković, a native of Ledenica near Novi Vinodolski, moved to Bolivia in the 1920s, settling in the city of Cochabamba, at the time a major centre of Croatian immigrants. Jorge’s father moved to the Chilean capital, where Jorge was born. His interest in the arts developed from early childhood. He earned a degree in painting from the Catholic Pontifical University in Santiago and has dedicated himself to art since then. He usually finds inspiration in the immediate environment. He always paints live scenes, and his chief motifs are nature and the people around him, but also human nature. He works in oil on paint and has painted murals for public and historical buildings in Santiago. He has worked as a restorer at the San Augustina church, the Subercaseaux palace and the national theatre house in Santiago. Jorge is an active member of the Domovina Chilean-Croatian Culture Association, where he promotes traditional Croatian dance in the fold of the dance group. He visited Croatia a few years ago and his dream is to paint the landscapes and faces of the homeland of his ancestors.
Other professional artists of Croatian extraction active in Santiago include Čedomir Šimunović and Natalija Babarović. The Hrvartis art association has as its core mission to collect and present the work of many independent artists of Croatian background—writers, musicians, painters and others. According to Franco Ferrera Cvitanović, a professional musician and the president of the Hrvartis project, the organisation seeks to move beyond the classic depiction of Croatian traditions and folklore. It is open to all artists whose work and art contributes to maintaining Chilean-Croatian ties in culture and the arts. Over the past two years the Hrvartis association has organised a number painting and poetry competitions and exhibitions for the large community of the descendants of Croatian immigrants in this distant land.
Text and photography: Sara Večeralo