Exhibition author and curator
Zorana Jurić Šabić
Graphic design of the exhibition and catalogue
January 30 – March 29, 2015
The Meštrović Gallery, Clay Modelling Studio, Split
Within Meštrović architectural opus which counts more than ten architectural achievements, the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer is a building of intimate character that stands out with its unique iconography that reveals very personal beliefs of its builder. Meštrović’s peculiar viewpoint can be seen from the dome decoration sketches, whose painting was unfortunately not realized and their complete iconographic study was missing. So far, we only knew that he wanted to pay tribute to the founders of the great world religions in painting the dome.
Since the early Christianity, the dome was reserved for displaying the celestial vault, and its base being supported by the evangelists, apostles, or prophets – the foundations of religion. Meštrović adheres to the metaphorical representation of the heavens, but goes beyond the boundaries of one religion. The exhibition of drawings – sketches for decorating the dome and their iconological study show that it is not just about prophets, but also about ancient wise men, writers and artists, even his own character. Meštrović’s reflection on art as a reflection of divine inspiration and the artist as a prophet led him to set up his own self-portrait on the vault of the Meštrović Family Mausoleum in Otavice among the characters representing some of the most important bearers of world cultures and religions.
Meštrović’s humanism and tolerance are the key to reading this complex programme. It is well known that Meštrović deeply contemplated complex systems of beliefs seeking all that connects them. The proof can be found in the contents of his library, which is in large part devoted to different cultures and religions, and numerous volumes on whose margins he often made a record of his comments.
Just as his iconographic choice unites different cultures and religions, the artistic design of interior reliefs and plastics reveals unexpected artistic role models, such as ancient Egyptian art (in the reliefs of the Evangelists) or Buddhist sculptures (Eternally Crucified). Meštrović drew his inspiration directly on his journey to Egypt, Greece and Jerusalem (1927), at the time when he contemplated the shaping of the church in Otavice.
The exhibition Decoding Meštrović reveals the artist’s unrealized ideas and gives new insights into the Meštrović Family Mausoleum in Otavice which is not envisioned just as the place of eternal serenity of his family, but also as a tribute to the greatest spiritual and art teachers that goes beyond geographical, cultural and religious boundaries and becomes a temple of art, religion and tolerance.
Zorana Jurić Šabić is the author of the exhibition, texts in the catalogue and the art exhibition. The author of photographs is Zoran Alajbeg, and the graphic design of the exhibition and the exhibition catalogue is signed by Josip Rajević (Studio 9). The video animation with a reconstruction of Meštrović’s unfinished project is an integral part of the exhibition, and the author, editor and cameraman of the video piece is Dragan Đokić (Studio Baranda).