Prominent Croatian painter, graphic artist, writer, and research scientist Josip Zanki talks about his painting “Bojinac” from the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, currently on display in the “One World” exhibition at Providur’s Palace in Zadar

The painting “Bojinac” is based on the reinterpretation of the traditional concept of landscape and considers the conceptualisation and representation of space. I have been mountaineering in the area of Velebit since 1997, and have tried to dedicate a significant amount of my time on the mountain not only to artistic impressions and artistic exploration but also to ethnographic research of phenomena such as mirila (grave markers), sinkholes, and beech forests. On multiple occasions, I found myself in extremely difficult situations, running out of water, sleeping in the open, getting lost; however, I have never given up on studying the phenomena of the Velebit mountain. In August 2008, I visited Bojinac for the first time, located within the Paklenica National Park on the southern part of Velebit. I continued to visit this site almost every year, and it has become one of the most iconic places on Velebit for me. Bojinac, in addition to its namesake peak, consists of large cliffs, megalithic rocks, valleys, plateaus, and sinkholes. On Bojinac, there is also the famous phallic-shaped megalithic rock called Jagin kuk, which has all the characteristics of a stone baba. Bojinac represents one of the most fascinating parts of the enchanting Velebit landscape, where organic forms of beech trees intertwine with naturally formed anthropomorphic rocks resembling petrified giants. The painting “Bojinac” explores precisely one such phenomenon: a beech tree on a plateau near a water source, whose trunk and branches are distorted by the force of the bora wind. Mythological meanings are often attributed to such forms, associated with forest creatures and spirits of the land, thus creating a unique symbolic form from an atmospherically shaped tree. With this artwork, I wanted to showcase the complexity of meaning inherent in a place and the various narratives that can be attached to it.

Josip Zanki

Image / Josip Zanki, Bojinac (by locality on Velebit), 2008 / acrylic on canvas / 100 x 150 cm / MG-7120 / Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

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