We take you to the park where the sculptures speak

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If you are coming from the direction of Rijeka to Labin, on the right side after the gas station, you will notice a sculpture of a rectangular opening in the middle, which is reminiscent of doors or narrow windows of Istrian architectural heritage. The sculpture is called Prodor, the author is Ljubo De Karina from Brseč. It invites you to squint curiously, open some new doors, feel the beauty of the symbiosis of nature and art in the Dubrovnik Sculpture Park.

On the right, as you get off the main road, is a large parking lot. It is impossible to miss it because of the large, glass cube building where the facilities and information related to the park will be located. Walking towards the first sculptures, on the left you will be accompanied by a beautiful dry stone wall in coexistence with ivy. On the other side of the dry stone wall there is a farm: the remains of a villa (today an inn) and partially preserved farm buildings of the aristocratic Franković family. From this family comes a prominent Labin intellectual, a collaborator of Martin Luther, a Protestant, a professor of Greek and Hebrew, the father of 18 children who is celebrating his 500th birthday. And the Sculpture Park / Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium, celebrates no less than half a century, founded on the 50th anniversary of the Labin Republic. The dry stone wall, on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage, is a descendant of the construction method typical of the Mediterranean. Let’s go back to the Mycenaean period, to the cities in the Peloponnese: Mycenae, Arg, Sparta or nurage in Sardinia. Stone on stone without any binders. In addition to dry stone walls, there are kazuns in Istria, in Dalmatia bunje, as silent, modest witnesses of a modest, intelligent and magnificent way of shaping the space.

At the very entrance to the park there is a triad to welcome. On the left side is a sculpture by Dušan Đamonja, and in front of you is a sculpture by Vladimir Gašparić Gapa, with the symbolic name Portal. Go through the portal and indulge in the magic of shapes, smells and colors of the Istrian landscape and stone. Like Bernini's colonnades of St. Peter, which greet their children like outstretched arms of a mother, so Jasna Bogdanović's sculpture, Waiting, is waiting for you.

In the park, which spreads over 40 hectares (all this needs to be mowed), there are 67 sculptures, 16 sections of Bijela cesta, the Dolac amphitheater and the Kocka building that you saw in the parking lot. Outside the park there are about 20 more sculptures. An impressive number of sculptures of contemporary Croatian and world names of sculpture, testifies to the largest park of contemporary sculpture in Croatia, in Europe, and perhaps on the globe.

On the north side there is a view of Učka, and on the south, on a hill, there is the Old Town of Labin. Josip Diminić, after finishing his studies, returns home and starts, together with other enthusiasts, the most important thing that happened in Labin after Matija Vlačić, mining and the Labin Republic, and that is the Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium. Every year, several artists from the former South and around the world participate in the symposium. In the courtyard of the stanza, in the shade under the palm tree, crickets are chirping, pines are smelling, Malvasia is in the bukalet. Petrified poetry is created from Istrian limestone, the same from which they built the amphitheater in Pula and Venetian palaces, under the hands and tools of sculptors. We find them, scattered around the park like the spilled stones of Istrian villas that built an amphitheater.

They say that the Slavs, coming to Pula, called the amphitheater Divic grad (they thought it was impossible for people to build it, and the little giant sleeps there). There is also a legend about Istrian villas, party girls and builders who like to dance at night on meadows and meadows, and they also like to work. At night, they carried stones from Učka and built an amphitheater. When the first rooster crowed, they would drop the stones and disappear until it got dark again.

Of the first three sculptures, created in 1970, there is only one in the park. The other two mark the borders of the Labin Republic, the famous rebellion of Labin miners against cruel oppression. The symposium is also a dedication to the 50th anniversary of the Labin Republic. One is a sculpture by Milena Lah, The Seagulls, which, as the people of Labin say, is set on a ravine for Rašo (above the turn for Raša, a mining town built in just 547 days, 1937). The sculpture is followed by a roundabout design. The second is in Stepčići (towards Plomin) by Ivan Kožarić, Isječak, which represents the river Seina. And the third is also the first sculpture in the park, with a significant name: Grain of grain / Il chicco di grano, by the Italian sculptor Antonio Paradis (from Apulia). From the grain of grain "sprouted" a multitude of sculptures, which we can admire, we can touch, surround and feel what a sculpture is.

Contemporary currents are read in figural or abstract, organic or stylized forms, love for homeland, stone, earth, tradition, expressiveness, playfulness, simplification… each sculpture has its own story, emotion, technique / s. One of the features of contemporary sculpture is that it invites you to dialogue and provokes imagination. As our famous artist Marija Ujević-Galetović stated, if art were a copy of reality, the best artists would be court recorders.

The sculptors who lived there were true faces, bearers of the most modern world currents in art in Yugoslavia and the world. Of the 90 authors who have participated to date, unfortunately I cannot list them all now, but I invite you to discover the others as well. Some are students of Marina Marini and Henry Moore, two giants of contemporary sculpture. Some are students of Croatian sculptors, founders of Croatian contemporary sculpture, excellent lecturers at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb such as Meštrović, RF Mihanović, Augustinčić, Kršinić, Radauš, architects, urban planners, mayors, sculptors from the former South, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Great Britain , Spain, USA. What happened in Athens in the 5th century BC or in Florence in the Renaissance, has been happening in Dubrova since the early 70s - a rise of the human spirit imprinted in stone sculptures. Vanja Radauš, whose Panopticum croaticum in 1961, once drove the people of Zagreb crazy with his brutal expressiveness, and his Decalcomanies from 1937 are the first abstract achievements in our areas.

Vjenceslav Richter, one of the founders of the first avant-garde movement Exat 51, which separates itself from monumental art and keeps pace with contemporary aspirations. This trend is followed by New Tendencies, through the 60's and early 70's. Richter's works can be found in the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington and the Soto Museum in Ciudad Bolivar, and in Zagreb visit his collection in Vrhovec.

Miroslav Šutej, a great Croatian artist who designed Kviska from the once popular Kviskoteka, the coat of arms and flag of the Republic of Croatia. Take a look at Croatian kuna banknotes, he also designed the jersey of the Croatian national football team, which brightened our lives in that unforgettable summer of 2018.

Marija Ujević- Galetović, the author of the famous Šenoa sculpture in Vlaška Street, the daughter of Mate Ujević, the founder of the Croatian encyclopedia, who stated that something should always be given to society, not just taken. In the park you can also see sculptures by Bogdan Bogdanović, the former mayor of Belgrade who was exiled due to disagreement with the system, and lived in Paris and Vienna.

There are also Raul Goldoni, Šime Vulas, Ratko Petrić, Želimir Janeš, Ivan Fijolić, Božica Dea Matasić a .a outside the park, achievements created as part of the Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium can be found in Rabac, Ilok, Vukovar, Šumber, Pazin, Pićan and Zagreb. Authors such as Alem Korkut, Mate Čvrljko, Vasko Lipovac and Kosta Angela Radovani are known to art lovers.

Within the park, like the spine, there is the White Road, an old road that leads to the entrance, decorated with a bugnato technique, the Franković estate. 16 shares were realized, 25 m long and each of them is a valuable and authentic achievement. You can walk along Murtić's section, enjoy the abstract expressionism in stone. After coming from America in the 50s, Edo Murtić introduced us to action painting, abstract expressionism and the gesturality of Jackson Pollock, William De Koonig. Peggy Guggenheim, the founder of the Guggenheim Museum in Venice, is delighted with his work, breaks into his studio in Zagreb unannounced and buys three paintings.

Qunitino Bassani, Eugen Kokot, Zdravko Milić are our local, Labin painters whose sections you can enjoy, and there are also Julija Knifer, with a typical meander, Kožarić's simplicity that makes him so great, Đamonja who inserts elements of marble, Ivan Picelj, a member of Exat 51 and New Tendencies, and I would certainly point out Ante Rašić.

Rasic's section "Waiting for the rain" won numerous awards. The section consists of 1.245 square stone slabs, with 806 turning circles. Circles are like vessels that receive rain, leaves, insects, worms, all the elements of nature. On the side there is a mound on which, when you climb you can read the White Road. One perfect symbiosis of nature and art.

In the natural valley of Dolac, an amphitheater is being built around the old lime kiln. It is a place of concerts, socializing, performances and plays.
In the park you can see children playing carefree and running around sculptures, yoga practitioners, walkers and dogs. At night, hidden from prying eyes, the park becomes a place of love chirping and other actions. One symbiosis of all spheres of life, the late artists who watch us from the sky smile contentedly because they know that their works will be recognized and valorized in the way they deserve.

At the Teatro Massimo in Palermo it is written: L'arte rinnova i popoli e ne rivela la vita (Art renews peoples and reveals their lives). At Dubrova, fill your soul with that miraculous life energy provided by sculptures, the White Road and the amphitheater in coexistence with meadow sage, dandelion, plantain, oaks and pines.

I could write a lot more but it is best to come and see for yourself. Each sculpture is accompanied by a label and the name of the sculpture, year of creation, you can download the QR code for audio information. Thanks to the valuable Istrian villas Renata Kiršić, Tei Bičić, Gloria Sellan, numerous volunteers and art lovers, sculptures are cleaned, various activities are carried out and conceived. If you want professional guidance, you can walk through the park with art historian and longtime companion / local guide Vedrana Juričić. (my little one: vedrolina@gmail.com, Instagram: @vedrolina)

Feel free to write to mediteranskikiparskisimpozij@gmail.com and follow Facebook: Dubrova Sculpture Park and Instagram: @ park.skulptura.dubrova to find out new activities and events in the park. You can post your photos #parkskulpturadubrova. And after the park, a glass of teran or a biscuit in the courtyard of the station so that you can feel how good they were while carving the sculptures, and maybe even dance like Istrian villas on the meadows among the playful sculptures.

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