Friday 24 July 2015

The art of an "angel"

“A painter with a natural gift and receptive imagination producing a remarkable variety of intriguing work.” Sir Tom Stoppard

I first met Croatian artist, Dragan Andjelic, in Sarajevo in 1995. My wife, Anne Aylor, loved his work and bought four of his tiny mystical wooden paintings on yew, several of which look like miniatures painted by da Vinci. Dragan and I spent time together, both in Mostar and Sarajevo. I loved his blues guitar playing almost as much as his visual art. The following year he was commissioned by Ian Ritchie and Kathryn McDowell to produce an installation for the Pavarotti Music Centre. In 1998 my friend Jane Glitre, director of the Spitz music and gallery venue, invited him to exhibit there. He and I transported his works that combined different techniques and media. We had a hilarious time crossing borders without documentation. The Slovenian customs officials were wowed by his paintings and wanted to charge us for moving the works across their country. He and I persuaded them they were a load of rubbish and proceeded, unhindered by charge or fines. In 1998 Dragan won a commission from the Norfolk and Norwich Festival for twelve huge angels painted on wood which hung in the nave. In 2002 he was recruited as artist in residence for the City of London Festival. The last time I met Dragan was ten years ago on a Stop the War demo in London. Last week, out of the blue, a carefully-rolled portrait of me arrived here by courier from his home in Osijek, a present for my 70th year. Puno hvala, Dragan. Thanks a lot. And if you are wondering, yes, his family name does translate as 'from the angels'. You can read more about Dragan here. And see his work here.

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