Bububu-2. Crngrn Jrnl. Issue 24. Makarska’s retalbos at the church with a dragon

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The church happens to be known as Santa Maria in Punta. It is in the very center of Old Town Budva.  It is the property of the Catholic church but it is used rather for educational than for religious purposes. The church is known for its Roman mosaics with a dragon and a dolphin. The dragon and the dolphin, the pagan mosaics at a Christian place: the theme of peaceful coexistence surfaces just like that.  When the exhibition was opening, there was a service at a nearby orthodox church. In addition to that, hidden by the shadows of trees, kneeling on a rug near the tomb of Budva’s man of culture Ljubiša, a Muslim young man was bowing in a silent prayer. All that rhymed oh so well. At the opening, Sasha Makarska prayed to God to bring peace to Ukraine, her motherland.

Makarska’s exhibition is addressing the highest levels of the universe, yet it resembles an ancient comic strip. Retablos are devotional paintings. Whenever anything important happens to a man, something, he wants to extend his gratitude for to the divine powers, he draws one. What happens is drawn, what the gratitude is for is written, and the resulting traditional genre looks quite present-day; I have mentioned comic strips, but this narrative under the drawing (in Russian, Serbian, or Ukrainian) inevitably creates a touch of conceptualism. The drawings have got a lot more soul to them than those of conceptual artists; so warm and lively they are.

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For her project, Sasha has gathered some real stories which happened to her Montenegrin acquaintances, some other stories have been imagined, but come on, this is art.

The stories go like this:

Thank you to St. Nickolas who sent my children Andrey and Milka when they got lost in the woods and became so desperate that they started eating pine cones a fox postman to show them way home

I am a maid at the Ulysses hotel. Because of my ignorance, I mixed two non-combinable modern cleaning liquids and got myself poisoned on chlorine gas and I collapsed in a room on a vacant floor. But there came a guest who mixed up floors and he heard me moaning. I thing that guest was the envoy of God, which is what I am thanking Him for.

We are grateful to St. Mary because when a cat looking very much like ours, with exactly the same spot on his tail, took to coming to our home we knew how to tell one from another and continued to let in only our cat who had made his way from the Urals, and we feed the cat stranger in the backyard, although twice a day.

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Sinisa is offering his gratitude to Lord for prompting him the idea of a pleskavica with a kinder surprise. Sinisa’s butcher shops are flourishing, and a soprano has come to visit from Belgrade.

I thank St. George for when the wind carried away my pink dress I’d worn when I first kissed Dusan and want to don for a date with Marko, He so made it that a good palm tree was on the way which caught my dress with its branches.

I sell éclairs on the beach in Herceg Novi. For many years everyone liked my éclairs. I thank   (insert name of saint) for letting Petar come to the beach who liked both my eclairs and myself. We are now happy together.

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I am very grateful to St. Marie that when my Honda’s wheel came off and went down the serpentine road, and I ran after it and could not catch it for a long time, St. Marie made the wheel fall flat and stop rolling.

I am grateful for having managed to catch a wild boar while spearfishing. The boar was chased by hunters and slipped off into the sea from a mountain. Now my wife who doesn’t like gilling, lets me go fishing easily, for she thinks I will bring a boar again.

 

I do not think all of these stories have been put on the canvases shown at the exhibition (I have borrowed the texts from working materials), but this is not important: come and see for yourself.  And make sure you leave a note on the wall to send your message to Lord (something you are grateful for) and to Sasha (she is planning to use the ones that catch her fancy for her new retablos).

That’s a very good exhibition, you can examine, read and match the texts in Serbian with a Russian translation on the wall nearby (“кабан – vepr (boar)”, “лес — šuma” (woods)), and explain these stories to your children.  This is one of the best projects by the Dukley European Art Community so far.

 

I am grateful to president Putin for sending Russia into this bullshit. which resulted in Marat Gelman’s (that cat story is about him) creating an art community in Montenegro, where I met Sasha Makarska…

Hmm, no, this does not sound right. Anyway, I still have time to think about the text to put on my retablo, and you have time to think about how mysterious the ways are that Gods moves in.

Vyacheslav Kuritsyn
ps. Sasha Makarska’s portrait before the text – by Yuriy Gordon, the one below it is by Ivan Kozlov.

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