At the end of February, the Croatian Association of Visual Artists (Croatian: Hrvatsko društvo likovnih umjetnika, HDLU) presented the annual awards and recognitions for achievements in visual arts in 2020, under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and Media. The awards ceremony was held at the Museum of Arts and Crafts. The Minister of Culture and Media, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, and Tomislav Buntak, the president of HDLU, presented the laureates’ awards. The awarded artists are Biserka Baretić Petlevski, for her life’s work, Koraljka Kovač and Fedor Vučemilović for the best exhibition, and Vlatka Škoro and Ivan Prerad as the best young artists. HDLU gave special recognition to Ivica Župan and art magazine Kontura.
The Lifetime Achievement
Biserka Baretić Petlevski is an award-winning Croatian painter and graphic artist. Despite the fact she is in her late eighties, she is still actively creating and exhibiting. She studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and was an associate of Krsto Hegedušić’s Master Workshop. She held her first solo exhibition in 1958 in Zagreb, and since then, has made numerous exhibitions in the country and abroad. Biserka Baretić Petlevski is a vital participant and creator of modern Croatian painting and already holds the Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award (2018) and the City of Zagreb Award (2019), among many others.
The Best Exhibition(s)
The award for the best exhibition in 2020 went to the painter Koraljka Kovač and her exhibition Inner Spaces (Croatian: Unutrašnji prostori) held in the Museum of Arts and Crafts (MUO) and to the photographer, visual and conceptual artist Fedor Vučemilović, for the exhibition Open Photographic Concepts (Croatian: Otvoreni fotografski koncepti) held in the Prsten and PM Galleries, both placed in the Meštrović Pavillion.
Koraljka Kovač shared with us a short statement:
‘I feel proud to have such a large exhibition behind me. The exhibition Interior spaces is my most significant and most challenging cycle so far, demanding a lot of engagement on a physical, spiritual and emotional level.
It means a lot that the exhibition’s value has been recognised by my colleagues who nominated me for the award on behalf of the Association of Visual Artists.’
While Koraljka made an exhibition describing the inner state and honouring the space of the MUO, Fedor Vučemilović was awarded for his retrospective exhibition.
He used the time of the pandemic for professional introspection. He tackled his rich portfolio of photos in different mediums, translating them to the story about Croatian contemporary photography history.
The Best Young Artists
As for the awards for the best young artists, the HDLU decided to hand out two awards. One went to the sculptor Vlatka Škoro for her work The Pack (Croatian: Čopor) from her animals’ opus.
She works in clay, and the finished sculpture is made of polyester. Besides the form of her sculptures, the other important aspect of her work is the placement within the space, and her awarded pack of African Wild Dogs does just this, surrounding the alpha within the space of the Bačva Gallery.
For young authors, this award is a significant incentive for further work.
‘The award made me very happy because it comes from colleagues who are very familiar with all the advantages and disadvantages of the creative process and its realisation in real conditions.
I am glad that the awards were given despite the crisis caused by the pandemic, because the work I was awarded for was created in the same circumstances’, said Vlatka.
The other award for young artist went to the painter Ivan Prerad.
‘This award means a great incentive for me in my further work, especially at this time which is not at all easy for young artists. I am grateful to the jury that recognised the quality and effort over the past year’, said Ivan.
He was awarded for his Imaginary museum exhibition, held in the Kranjčar Gallery. He made large-format paintings of classical sculptures but upgraded them with an innovative technique, using vertical stripes, which makes pictures look different depending on the viewer’s angle in relation to the artwork.
Both Vlatka and Ivan graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
The Special Recognition
A special recognition award for contribution to culture went to Ivica Župan, an art critic and a curator with a large body of written work predominantly focused on Croatian art and artists.
For the broader audience, he is mainly recognised for his writings in the daily newspapers Slobodna Dalmacija and Novi List.
The second recognition awarded the art magazine Kontura for the thirty years of continuous publishing dedicated to fine arts and following artists’ promotion.