“Normandija“- Žarko Vijatović

Date: May 17 2024, 3:30 PM

Location: Gallery Lungomare Plaza: promenade at the foot of the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj

“Normandie” – exhibition of photographs by Žarko Vijatović, curated by Leila Topić, produced by Kranjčar Gallery

A few years ago, Žarko took me for a walk along the long Normandy beaches, taking photographs along the way and telling me about the art history of Normandy and Trouville. I discovered that Courbet, captivated by the stormy waves he observed and captured in his paintings at Étretat, wrote to Victor Hugo that waves, in their fury, reminded him of a caged beast, yet simultaneously held him spellbound. Also, in 1885, Monet made almost fifty paintings of the Normandy coast. Writer Guy de Maupassant described how the artist “observed the sun and shadows, capturing in a few brushstrokes a ray of falling light or a passing cloud.” Inspired by the unique light, changeable weather, picturesque beauty and the relatively easy access from Paris, artists and writers gathered in Normandy, setting up their easels from Rouen, Etretat, Honfleur and beyond. Vijatović led me down the same stairs Margaret Duras once descended to reach the beach; we savored Madeleines, evoking memories of Marcel Proust, and talked about Gustave Flaubert as we left our footprints in the sand, gazing at the tide and listening to the wind. Recalling that day, I would say that Žarko Vijatović, prompted by a specific sensory memory that evoked painted Normandy landscapes, captured the moments of his own happy solitude that he inscribed in the painting memory of Normandy. At the same time, a valuable feature of this approach is the insistence on an engaged observer in the creation of meaning, one who acknowledges Vijatović’s deeply personal connection to the scenes, and the infusion of his own experiences into the landscapes of Normandy.
Observing the Normandy beaches, my gaze was in a constant flow, pursuing Vijatović’s lens as he captured the solitary essence of each unique moment. Employing various focal lengths, he emphasized his distinct perspective. He does not look at Normandy literally; instead, he approaches it with intention and affection, much like the painters who came before him. This is the highly personal aspect of Vijatović’s oeuvre – observation with a purpose.

Leila Topić


Žarko Vijatović was born in 1952 in Washington DC, USA. He graduated from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts, Painting Department, but since 1987 he has been deeply devoted to photography. He lives and works in Paris. Vijatović has been a member of the Maison des Artistes, French Association of Artists, since 1994. At first, he worked primarily in painting, and he gradually incorporated photography as his means of expression. From his solo exhibition in the Salon of the JNA Center in Zagreb in 1988, and the exhibition The Mediterranean Meets the North in Espace Paul Boyé in the French town of Sète in 1995, he started intertwining photography with painting. Gradually, photography evolved into his sole method of portraying reality. He has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Croatia and France. He was awarded the Ilford Prize for Black and White Photography in 1992. Žarko Vijatović’s photographs are in the Collections of the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art and the Split Museum of Fine Arts.



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