Sasha Makarska | Here was..

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Sasha Makarska “Here was..”

«One of the most popular and enduring interests of mankind is erecting memorials in different places to commemorate the visits of certain celebrities to these locations. The preservation of memory is present everywhere in the form of mausoleums, obelisks and pyramids, weighty and imposing in their forms… Artist Sasha Makarska’s new project ‘…WAS HERE’ is generally devoted to this subject. But the approach taken by her is quite different – her works are dainty and elegant, airy and light. Clearly her chosen manner is influenced by the genius loci of Montenegro itself: the sky, sea, greenery and light. On the other hand, the celebrities chosen for her project – people who have been in these parts – are not conquerors and pharaohs, but creative people; poets, actors, chess players, singers. Sophia Loren and Tina Turner, Lord Byron and Pierce Brosnan… they need a different, more delicate and refined approach. In this series, Sasha depicts them on a light turquoise background of sky, greenery, and mountains. All these works have a slight irony to them: the subjects’ features are a little exaggerated to make them easier to recognise; with almost grotesque accessories (Sophia Loren’s hat; Bobby Fischer’s knight chess piece). But at the same time these portraits have such blue colour and light that they are a little reminiscent of church frescoes. This combination of simplicity, almost naivety, and, on the other hand, monumentality stemming from a great tradition – is typical of the artworks of Sasha Makarska. But there is another aspect of the project that particularly captivated me personally. Among the celebrities who visited Montenegro she also included fictional characters. And in addition to paintings, she has also made commemorative plaques for them. Although they don’t exist, created by their talented authors they become our heroes – more alive and important than real celebrities. For example, Nero Wolfe and James Bond. Last November, being in New York, and being a big fan of Rex Stout’s novels about the famous detective Nero Wolfe, I especially went to West 35th Street to honour his memory. There is a bronze plaque mounted on the wall of the real house where his fictional house would have been. Now a similar plaque will appear on the hotel, where allegedly Nero Wolfe stayed while investigating the case in the novel Black Mountain. And what about the people’s favourite – James Bond?! In Casino Royale events are said to take place in Montenegro, giving Sasha Makarska and us the chance to honour the hero played by Daniel Craig. And we don’t care that the filming took place elsewhere and not in Montenegro. Isn’t it charming?! We adore fiction more than the truth, we mix myth and history… We feel at ease on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, underneath the blue sky, surrounded by the shadows of those interesting people, real or fictional, who preceded us. Sasha Makarska’s project ‘… was here’ – is a contemplation of this element of our consciousness.