“The Bells of Metohija” in Velika Hoca
Art Colony Velika Hoca held in Velika Hoca from 6 to 12 October 2009. The exhibition was organized by Velika Hoca in cooperation with the Association of Fine Art of Serbia. This colony was named “The Bells of Metohija” since it was organized by the people who organize the auction of paintings of the same name, above all Zoran Calija, Vesna Markovic and Stanka Todorovic. The colony’s selector was Zoran Calija, a long-time friend of Velika Hoca and Orahovac, the university-educated painter and humanist. The intention was to raise money for the renovation of the Velika Hoca monastery and other Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo.
Fourteen artists have participated in the colony, along with one art historian, twelve of them from various parts of Serbia and three from Velika Hoca. One of the artists who came to Velika Hoca was also the famous naïve painter Mladen Bozanic from Dragacevo, who helped in the The Bells of Metohija auction when it was held in Cacak. He was thrilled by the people of Velika Hoca, and the whole village, it’s old houses and walls reminding him of a museum, he told us while he was finishing a painting of grapes and wine.
Sitting by his side in the courtyard of the Signoirial House we met Ljiljana Vojvodic, who came from Ruma. She is a sculptor and a school teacher. She did two paintings in this colony. They represent the doors and immense walls of Hoca, all of them with passages symbolizing a hope for all. “Small beams on the walls are like wires with little birds sitting on them. They come together. Just like Serbs do, the swallows migrate and come back again,” Ljubica said while painting a heart in mixed technique, dedicated to the people of Velika Hoca. “The artists like to leave a mark, especially when they’re doing something useful, and so they know that they will leave behind something beautiful, something sacred, for the people. The ones who have a hundred thousand dollars can donate funds, and those of us who have less materially, we have this great strength and energy, a love we can share with others.”
In the courtyard of the Signorilial House I also met Milena Vitkovic-Zikic, the art historian. She has been to Velika Hoca several times.
“My goal is to make a complete list of all the artwork in the collection, the results of all the previous colonies, and the collection will be exhibited in Saraj, because Saraj is the right place for the entire collection, and there will be exhibitions in other towns. The artistic culture from the past and the present has to be present its best work to be a representation of Velika Hoca, along with the wine. So far I have the information that in the 46 domestic authors participated in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 art colonies in Hoca, along with 11 foreigners, and here in Saraj there are 160 paintings. It’s an impressive number that shows that this is a serious collection.”
Vesna Markovic from Belgrade has been to Velika Hoca several times already and she has been a member of the Bells of Metohija committee for the last three or four years.
“I am here as a member of the Association of Fine Arts but also as a painter,” she said. “Recently we had an art colony in Piran, Slovenia. The paintings were done for the reconstruction of Hoca. Our church in Trieste promised to frame the paintings and there will be an art show held in Trieste. It doesn’t matter how much money is raised, the important thing is to paint. That’s what we can do, we can donate our work and our time. I like Hoca, especially the well-preserved old architecture, it’s like one century in the past, I hope that most of it can be restored.”
Vesna Markovic did two paintings. One of them shows the church of St. Stephen and the other focuses on grape vines.
Jelena Bojanic is a young artist who had lived in Pristina untill 1999. She helped painted a wall of the nursery in Orahovac, and she also did two paintings, one of them in acrylic on canvas. She doesn’t hide her joy for being here and says:
“It feels wonderful to be here. The happiness and the sorrow mixed together.”
While the other artists have all found a quiet place in the village to paint in, located in the centre of the village in the main square, I see Zoran Calija, known by his nickname Charlie. Regardless of the heat he is standing at the little stove baking crepes for a bunch of local kids gathered around him.
Even though he’s busy he doesn’t mind talking to us and he tells us that the criteria for the selection of this year’s artists was high because along with the artistic quality, they have to have be humane and conscientious because the most important thing for each artist is to know where he’s going and for what purpose. This art colony is not only located in Velika Hoca but is also dedicated to Velika Hoca, for the restoration of the village, of its churches and monasteries. Each artist made two pieces. One is for the collection of Velika Hoca and the other is for the fond or for the Bells of Metohija auction.
For the next year we have planned an art show that will be opened at the same time in Moscow, London, Paris, Belgrade, and Trieste. Some of the artwork has already been collected. The paintings came from the English, French, but also from the Croats, Slovenians, Macedonians, Bulgarians and Greeks, which by itself is a response to the questions of the consciousness and love of the artists for the medieval art and culture. If we let all this be forgotten, if we renounce everything we have – we are nothing. Regardless of all the difficulties, we only care about love – the love for children and everyone else. I am in love with the children of Velika Hoca, with the churches and monasteries of Orahovac and Metohija, I am in love with all these good people, and the love carries with it a vow and a responsibility, and my vow is the responsibility for all of you, forever. If a man forgets love and the responsibility of the heart, he is nothing.
During their stay in Velika Hoca, the artists had the opportunity to participate in the harvest at the Vineyard of Decani, and they attended the reading of the Canon of prayer to the Holy King at the Decani monastery.
For the day of Venerable Cyriacus the Anchorite-Miholjdan, at the Vinery of Decani, there was an art show, and to everyone’s joy a painting was sold, and to whom else but Zivorad Jovanovic, who, together with the Association of Fine Arts of Serbia helped reconstruct the Zociste monastery.
Regardless of the hard work, the artists have enjoyed themselves in Velika Hoca, and they also had the opportunity to meet and spend an evening with the world renowned writer Peter Handke, to whom they gave one of the new paintings as a token of appreciation for everything he has been doing for the Serbian people.
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