Wizard from Škver

"When we arrived at Villa "Galeb", everyone had their own place at the table, and Zuko sat between Jovanka and Tito. If it was a bed, Zuko would have laid between them!”

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Vojo Stanić with the author of the text, Photo: Private archive
Vojo Stanić with the author of the text, Photo: Private archive
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Written by: Slobodan Vuković

Back in 1971, when I was a young journalist, I bought my first car, a French "Citroen" - Ami 8. We drove around Montenegro with it. The first car, as the first child; I groomed and stroked it, regularly went to services. At that time, the nearest "Citroen" service was located in Dubrovnik. And: in the spring of 1972, I went to Dubrovnik, but first I went down to Škver in Herzegnov with my friends, Swim i Voj Stanić, the legendary Montenegrin painter, born in 1924 near the ancient Podgorica Clock Tower.

After the great pasta that Nada (Vojo called her Njake), with the obligatory bottle of red wine on the table, as always, superbly prepared, I left for Dubrovnik.

- I'm going with you too! - said Vojo.

We walked along Stradun, Dubrovnik's famous promenade; the whole of Stradun greeted him. People stopped to shake hands with Stanić. Then he also arranged his exhibition in Dubrovnik...

I found him on one occasion on a boat, in Herzegovinian port, flipping some nets; he longed for the sea. He used to sail as far as Lastovo by boat.

He had just returned from Rome, where he stayed with his wife Nada for about twenty days, the duration of his exhibition in the representative Roman gallery "Đulia".

- I did well, I sold a lot of paintings - said Stanić with satisfaction. - But, to tell you the truth, I couldn't wait to return to Montenegro to take pictures. I rarely draw, but I wanted to paint, so in Rome I made a series of drawings from which I will make paintings these days...

As Roman art critics emphasized, Stanić's exhibition represented a great poetic surprise; Stanić is a great inquisitive person, he always manages to put a human being in the picture...

- Some motifs that I have "shot" I try to work in a different way - Stanić tells me. - Actually, with more light in the pictures I get something else. There was light in my pictures before, but you couldn't see where that light was coming from. Now you can see the shadows on the subjects of my pictures. Painting, they say, is luxurious precisely because it always provides the opportunity for some inventions. I paint whatever comes to my mind, without any prejudices. I make one painting after another, because I really enjoy painting...

Unforgettable conversations
Unforgettable conversationsphoto: Private archive

He lived in Škver, in the house where the Catholic saint was born Leopold Mandic, who got a park with his name in Herceg Novi. Vojo had a tiny studio there, where the easel could barely fit.

- But - says Stanić - when I open the window, both the sun and the sea enter the studio! Under the window, the most fig tree in Novi. She bothered me a bit, but more to the neighbors than to me. I don't know why... Later she was knocked over by a tramontana... I enjoy painting; I am playing. Well, those who look at my picture, I believe, also enjoy it. I didn't study drawing. When I came to Herceg Novi, I immediately started painting.

When it's cloudy, he looks out the window and imagines the canvas as if he were painting. That, he says, he reported. He does not plan exhibitions. He exhibits when someone invites him and organizes an exhibition. He exhibited in Italy, Russia, America, Norway... An Italian critic wrote an inspired essay about him, stressing that he is a painter of great imagination that was illuminated by refinement. Stanić found something Chaplin in his paintings.

Vojo will say that painting and some musicality are colors. And not only that. A man who has some senses can feel it.

- I try to repay myself with a good image - says Stanić. - While painting, I enjoy telling something to someone, something that I think is interesting, and at the same time I amuse myself.

After the devastating earthquake on April 15, 1979, which hit Montenegro, Vojo Stanić moved to a nearby stone house where he still lives today. He added a small attic where his studio is located with a view of the sea.

The painter saw an earthquake.

- I went up to the city to buy a newspaper. Suddenly there was thunder. And I can say that I saw an earthquake - Vojo Stanić told me. - I was in the clearing and calmly observed everything. On one house, the facade curled in several waves. That's incredible. It seemed surreal. I thought that house was going to collapse, but it stayed intact. Then there was a general flapping of trees and chimneys...

He loved Vojo na Škveru to live with fishermen and port workers, most often with By the Tokyo Dam. Nobody knew his last name; there was no need.

- In the past, people entertained themselves by talking; there were no mobile phones that constantly hack you, like now - says Vojo. - My friend, the new original, Brano Tokio, asks me if I want to be his best man. I agree. His sister lived in Rijeka; she had a ten-year-old son and I am his godfather at his baptism. When the pope sprinkled him, the kid said to the pope, fuck your father...

Pet Danica Promenade. Heroines: Tomaševićeva, Đurovićeva, Kosićeva, Bojanićeva, Popivoda. They fell in the anti-fascist struggle; for life to be freedom.

At the end of the promenade, or at the beginning, depending on which side you come from, Voj's home with a studio and gallery on the ground floor. Temperamental, talkative painter, when he talks, he "branches" with his hands, and sometimes hangs the lampshade on the large table lamp above his head.

City of sun, greenery and mimosa.

Novi Grad, you sit at the end of the sea and count the waves down the open sea, an old canoe sitting on a rock... He said Njegos.

They lived in Herceg Novi Ivo Andrić, Branko Ćopić, Mihailo Lalić, Dušan Kostić, Stevan Raičković, Petar Lubarda, Miloš Vušković, Aco Prijić, and the witty Cetinje Anđelko Arnautović, who was jumping into the sea with an open umbrella... Always dear interlocutors. Pilgrim Zuko Dzumhur, would have loved the buffet "Hercegovina", always lively and cheerful, next to the market, where the slim Konavokas brought their products.

Vojo Stanić and Slobodan Vuković
Vojo Stanić and Slobodan Vukovićphoto: Private archive

He stayed in Igalo four times Tito. Invited to dinner the artists from HercegNovi, Aca Prijić, Luka Tomanovića, Voja Stanić, Dušan Kostić, Zuk Džumhur...

- When we got to Villa "Galeb", Zuko made love to Tito and Jovanka; they had known each other since childhood - Vojo Stanić told me with a smile - Everyone had their own place at the table, and Zuko sat between Jovanka and Tito. If it had been a bed, Zuko would have laid between them!

Cantilevered boats on Škver. The catarrhs ​​are swaying.

- Now my boat is owned Rambo Amadeus. What will I do? I don't use it anymore - says the luminary of Montenegrin painting. - I barely survived this summer. If I survive the summer, I know, I have a chance to live until the next one. I used to love going to the City Tavern, but I can't climb those stairs anymore. At one time I was driven up there by a taxi driver, but now I don't go anymore...

He lost his eyesight.

- I hope to die before I lose my sight completely. I read though; I have some other glasses, I help myself with a magnifying glass - the famous Montenegrin painter Vojo Stanić tells me. - I follow the press. Balša Brković is one of the strongest Montenegrin intellectuals. It has everything. I regularly read his columns in "Vijesti" on Saturdays, although sometimes I disagree with some political conclusion... I have known Balša since he was a child. Jew was coming to me with I say and two sons...

He does not drop his pipe; when it goes out, Vojo, with a small, reddish cress, ropes it again. Light a cigar too.

- If I hadn't smoked, I wouldn't have lived this long - he said with a smile. - It's healthy to smoke. I've been smoking since childhood and by now I should have gotten ten crabs, and now I don't have one when I get one. For dinner I eat toast with cheese and drink a glass of wine. I love mullet; Njake loved them. She sewed beautifully. When we were in Italy, she would tear apart a store with stoves and not buy anything; I would wait for her outside...

We're talking about the picture he likes.

- Maybe it's the "New Year" picture, and maybe some other, but it's certainly not one of those in the Art Gallery, because all those pictures were made before I really started painting. I say this because of some oral and justified criticisms about those pictures - says Stanić. - I made this painting at the end of the sixties, right after a New Year, and it is called "New Year". Maybe I chose that picture as my favorite because I only had it for a very short time. Maybe that's why I have fond memories of her. This painting is located in Norway, and it is made with oil on canvas, like all my paintings. I paint, frankly, whatever comes to my mind, without any prejudices. Because I really enjoy taking pictures.

On each of his canvases is a man in various situations. He is inspired by the audience. While working, Stanić always thinks of the one who will look at his painting. It could be that he is in Herceg Novi by chance.

- I didn't choose that - Stanić tells me. - For example, I could have lived in Šavnik. I believe that if I lived in Gusinje, I would think the same as here, in Novi... And the awards are absurd. In painting, you cannot categorize people: first, second, third. If someone wins a prize, the others seem to have lost. While in sports prizes can really stimulate athletes, in art it can demoralize the artist, and by no means help him create art...

I remind Stanić that there are motifs from the cosmos in his paintings?

- You're right. Some people fly with me. Really, that can't happen in nature. But it can be in the picture. That's why I paint it - explains the painter. - I would fly myself if I could. It is not convenient to explain the pictures. I can send the picture somewhere far away and I don't have to be next to it, if I have to explain the picture, then it means that it lacks something, in order for it to be a picture. I don't like to say "my painting", or "my creativity", as many painters say. "My painting" they can say Matis or pikaso who have achieved their own style. Although they could have said it, they never did. Those who can't say it, keep saying it. Some painters say pathetically as if everything depends on their painting: "I love people, man..." Since I am one of the three billion people they love, reading that, I want to send them a telegram and thank them...

He told me, if he lived alone in the world, he wouldn't do art.

- Artistic natures are those natures that are inspired by the audience. An artist always addresses someone - says Stanić. While making a painting, the artist constantly thinks about the one who will look at that painting...

He takes a small, round pocket lamp from his pocket; he points her at his watch... And: he leaves.

The storm is blowing... It's winter in Škver.

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