- With toes my legs are buried
In the ground like roots.
From the soil I uproot myself.
My daily work in the art studio is exposed to the public, to the gaze of passers-by, through a glass window overlooking the street. The entire process of the creation of the painting can be followed in public, with the palette standing on the floor next to my left leg with which I develop the painting from a sketch with a brush, mixing colors to the final definition of the artistic whole.
My work in the studio is visible to interested observers all the time. That is why I would now get even closer to people and try to draw their attention to the paintings displayed on the walls of the studio.
I would present the poetic part of inspiration and the materialization of paintings to visitors and observers as a palette of close encounters in the painting studio. Their impression of my work would become an integral part of the palette of closeness. The interaction between viewer and artist is a medium for mixing all shades of familiarity.
I am an artist with a disability and I paint with my left foot. Breaking down the barriers that artists with disabilities constantly face due to their condition and way of working, instead of taking into account the work itself, I successfully carry out through my daily orientation to painting and developing artistic expression. Images must be more important than how they were created.
At the same time, I never want to hide my way of painting but I want to get people used to my appearance and thus direct the main focus to the paintings I create.
The goal of my public activity in the studio is to show my paintings and the work process and to bring the disabled artist closer to the public in order to get used to what is different at first glance. Approaching people using colors is the palette that I will offer them in order to mix and create shades of equality and tolerance.
This project is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia.
Preparation for the exhibition
I am preparing a solo exhibition called ‘Spark of Life’ in Jezera on the island of Murter. The exhibition will be held as part of the seven-day Jazzera music seminar from 14-20 of August 2023. My wife, Kristina Šubašić, will also take part in that seminar.
The latest painting I painted, which will be part of the exhibition, is 100×150 cm with the motif of a fisherman catching a fish on a fishing boat. First, I spontaneously spilled colours on the canvas to get an incentive in which direction to go next. I thought to continue in the abstract direction and stay with the blue bases but at one point, I got the urge for figurative forms. The transformation of the image in which I do not have everything under control with a predictable ending has its symbolism in the theme of the image. A fisherman can never be sure what and how much he will catch at sea.
Sailing with paint on the surface and hunting for the final theme of the painting is an adventure with an unpredictable beginning and end. Until the end of this painting, there were strong currents to get to the fishing post and a good catch. I empathized with the hard work of a fisherman, full of love and passion, through painting on large canvases.
Palette of closeness – solo exhibition ‘Spark of Life’
My solo exhibition called ‘Spark of Life’ opened in Jezera on the island of Murter in the cultural and pastoral center of Baganelovica. I exhibited 21 paintings and 20 drawings with motifs of the small fishing village of Jezera on the island of Murter. The exhibition is organized and runs as part of the vocal seminar ‘Jazzera’ from 14 to 20 August 2023. My wife Kristina also participates in that vocal seminar.
The exhibition was officially opened by Mrs. Etida Pavlić, president of the Jezera Tourist Board, quoting a few sentences about the exhibition that I wrote on this occasion.
This is the text about the exhibition:
“Stjepan Perković is an academic painter who lives and works in Zagreb with his wife Kristina, who is also a participant in the vocal seminar ‘Jazzera’. Stjepan Perković is a member of HDLU Zagreb and the International Association of Mouth and Foot Painters.
The independent exhibition entitled ‘Spark of Life’ was inspired by Jezera, a fishing village that brings painting themes of fishing, the sea, female strength and poetic-abstract impressions, interwoven with singing and music that fills Jezera and the entire island of Murter.”
Palette of closeness – solo exhibition ‘Star Runner’
I collected selected pictures from the walls of the studio and laid them out in the exhibition as a group of stars to shine on all curious eyes.
On September 14, 2023, I had the opening of my solo exhibition called Star Runner, in Zagreb, organized by the Society of the Physically Disabled. 15 of my works, acrylic on canvas and watercolor, are exhibited. The exhibition was opened by the president of the society Viktorija Lisec and my wife Kristina performed at the opening, singing three jazz standards accompanied by pianist Joe Kaplowitz.
The exhibition can be viewed until October 15, 2023.
Palette of closeness – Tree’s Bloodstream
I mixed the colours in the pots and decided to pour the colours onto the canvas. I surrendered to the spontaneous spilling of colours and the creation of form, encouraging the strokes of the brush to flow with the flow of the tree, its essence, life juices and flow untouchable to our eyes and our concept of time. Thick layers of paint bring us closer to the breathing and beats deep in the trunk like the voice of a tree, telling us ‘Where you run, slow down!’ The life of the trees in our environment is indescribably longer-lived than ours and it provides us with quality and beauty every day of our short-lived existence. I laid the canvas on the floor as a bow to the trees and spilling the paint, I give them a hug in harmony with their time and the cycle of life. Feet with brushes are the roots through which I draw all the juices from the ground upwards, to the crowns, through which the whole forest is a gift of life to us. I hug the tree like this, thanking it for the breath of air, the sip of water, the soil full of food, the home and the shade under which I cool off from the sun and for all the painted landscapes. I slowed down the image to get at least a little closer to the time course of the tree and I crowned it. I bowed to it to give it a sign that its eternity is of golden value to us.
Palette of closeness – Traces on the Face of the Day
Sketching with a brush on the surface of the canvas, I leave traces; the strokes are not only a consequence of the beginning of the formation of the painting, they are the directions of the opening of the idea for the formation of the painting. These are not only past lines; they are also the key to opening a view into the future where the picture will be completed. The traces lead the gaze through thought and experience to a time that has not yet come into being, where I discover how the painting will be completed. I mostly paint during the day, the light is the most natural and the colours are the truest in daylight so the flat face of the day allows me to leave traces on it and to search for the last stroke of finishing the picture. In the picture, wild horses are created in the snow, who roar through the snow with their hooves in order to reach the grass and survive in the cold snowy conditions. While I paint them, I interpret that experience of their life in the natural environment. Horses leave tracks in the snow and are always directed forward, towards a new foraging area, in a herd. By painting them, I try to experience that daily struggle with cold, wind and lack of food, to approach them stealthily so that they do not run away from me and to feel their endurance. Horses in the wild are always moving forward, free and dependent on resourcefulness and endurance to keep that freedom on the snow, on the white face of the day on which they leave their tracks. They allow me to follow them, painting them on the same face of the day that offers me its cheek to leave my traces of the finished image on it. I will paint hymns to daylight every day and now I have sung one with a painting of free wild horses.
Palette of closeness – Ritual of preparation
The beginning of work in the studio always starts with preparations which consist of cutting the canvas, fixing it on the board and easel, squeezing the colors onto the palette and finally taking the brush and painting. In a way, this ritual leads me to immerse myself in painting and develop ideas for what I want to paint, as a kind of preparation for the marathon I want to run. I need help to cut and fix the canvas on the easel, because it is awkward for me to hold the scissors and cut with them, while I prepare the colors on the palette myself and thus try to focus on the work as much as possible. I arrange the sequence of colors according to my own sense of order, according to which nothing will interrupt or confuse me and then I am completely focused on what I want to paint. Direct contact with the painting material introduces me to the starting point from which painting gets that spark of initiation and the goal at which the painting should be finished. That’s why the whole process of painting takes me slower than it might otherwise be if I left the entire preparation for painting to someone else. Then I would lose that touch with color and I would miss immersion in the essence of colors and painting which in this way introduces me to my source from which I grab and spill onto the canvas. Honesty in painting is shown in the purity of colors where each color radiates its own intensity because I am directly connected to them. The colors are expressed with as little intermingling as possible and that’s how I present myself in the most honest light possible.
Palette of closeness – Creativity for everyone