From the Nature Series (forest, water, earth, sea)

Co-organizer Sponsors Media sponsorship Season Sponsorship Friend of Art Official transportation The catalogue has been financially supported by: Nature is a self-created storehouse of wealth, which provides man with its many resources.  Croatia has inherited a large part of this wealth, particularly with respect to forest, water, earth and sea.  These four natural resources are the most important and are of incalculable value.  Very often they are perceived as economic categories, but other values should not be forgotten, their ecological, social and ultimately aesthetic value as well, their beauty.  Because of the importance, value and beauty of natural resources in Croatia the Art Pavilion has launched this series of exhibitions devoted to Nature.  The exhibition cycle will consists of four exhibitions, devoted in turn to forest, water, earth and sea.


In times of our ancient forerunners, the forests were lush and untouched. Our ancient ancestor felt both gratitude and fear for the forest.  His life depended on it – it warmed him, from it and in it he worked his tools, found food, it provided shelter. As distinct from that of the forest, the life of our ancestor was short and thus he ascribed to the forest – to each majestic, centuries-old tree – divine importance and believed it had a divine power. Trees, according to traditions, have since antiquity occupied an important place in the narration of religions.  For example, many interesting beliefs are connected with the oak, so important and valuable in Croatia and in many nations. It is considered a holy tree, the tree of the supreme god – the tree of Zeus among the Greeks, of Jupiter among the Romans, Donar’s for the Germans and among the Scandinavian peoples Thor’s. For the Slavs it was the tree of thunder god Perun.  The oak was the symbol of exaltedness and it was believed that for reasons of its divinity it attracted the thunderbolts. Some beliefs about this tree have remained in our regions to this day and particularly in rural areas are transmitted in stories and traditional  lore.

Today Croatia is one of the most forested of European states.  In terms of forest cover it is in the lead, for forest lands spread over 47% of the area of the country.  In our country, there is a half a hectare of forest per capita, comparable, for example, to Austria   Almost a half of the flora of Croatia grows in the forests and comes to about 4,500 species of plant.  The forest vegetation comprises 102 forest associations in which there are 74 species of tree. And Croatia is particularly rich in oak woods.  The biggest concentration of common oak is in    the Spačva forest, in Vukovar-Srijem County. The Spačva basin is almost 40,000 hectares, and the figures show that in Europe Spačva is among the most complete of oak forests.  For the sake of comparison, it is twice as big as the forests of Fontainebleau, the biggest complete oak forest in France.  Our forests are extremely diverse for in them, alongside the oak, the beech, hornbeam, ash, sweet chestnut, fir, spruce and pine also thrive. The forests are green workshops that produce good health, cleaning the air, binding carbon dioxide, supplying oxygen, preserving and maintaining the soil, taking part in the water cycle. In a word, they have a very important role in the protection and preservation of the environment.  Forests are important too for mental health. A stay in the forest reduces stress, anger and aggression, and the forests augment the feeling of well-being. 

The forest has many times been source, inspiration – to forests have been dedicated symphonies and compositions, the loveliness of the woods has been recorded in prose and verse, it has been the inspiration for the creation of human works, wood has been used in the making of sculptures and products of craft, industrial and contemporary furniture.

Many of our painters have set down the forests and trees for perpetuity in their works. We know for example which trees were particular favourite of some of them.  The oak was beloved, for example, of  Hötzendorf, Waldinger and Becić.  Filakovac adored the beech, Kraljević the hornbeam, Mašić and Motika were charmed by the beauty of the birch, while Domac and Babić loved the poplar.  It was the fir that Varlaj liked, and the holm oak Medović, while the Dalmatian trees of cypress, fig and olive as well as carob were the theme of the paintings of Miše, Babić, Dulčić and Parać.

The Forest exhibition covers four sections – painting, sculpture, literature and product design (industrial and contemporary). It is concentrated on the forest in the inland parts of Croatia, particularly on the forests of Slavonia and the national tree, the oak. 

In the painting section the following will be represented –  Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf, Adolf Waldinger, Vjekoslav Karas, Vlaho Bukovac, Fanny Daubachy-Brlić, Ivan Zach, Ivan Zasche, Dragan Melkus, Vladimir Becić, Tomislav Krizman, Nasta Rojc, Menci Clement Crnčić, Vladimir Filakovac, Oskar Herman, Željko Lapuh, Zlatan Vrkljan and many others, from the 19th to the 21st century. 

The sculpture section presents sculptors who used wood for the creation of their works. Among them are works by Ivan Meštrović, Dušan Džamonja, Ksenija Kantoci, Branko Ružić, Slavomir Drinkovic, Petar Barišić, Kuzma Kovačić and Mirko Zrinšćak.

The section devoted to literature follows the exhibition through poetic and prose works by Croatian writers. Many writers have found inspiration for their prose and poems in forests and in trees, and have sung them, described them, in their works. One of the most important writers who have dealt with this topic is Josip Kozarac, leading proponent of Croatian realism, who published his Slavonian Forest in Vijenac in 188.  Also here are, for example, Dragutin Tadijanović and Dobriša Cesarić.  Exclusively written for this exhibition, and published in the catalogue, is an essay by one of the most distinguished and most widely published of our writers, Miljenko Jergović. 

The product design section (industrial and contemporary) shows the furnishings of local authors, produced here, and of locally harvested wood.  Our wish is to show that the Croatian forests, or the trees that grow in them, particularly oak, are a valuable raw material from which furniture can be made. The exhibition will show the development of industrial production and furniture design from the beginnings of the 20th century to the present time. Among the exhibits are the products of the Bentwood Factory in Rijeka; of Mundus Florijan Bobić in Varaždin; Ivo Marinković Furniture, Osijek; Thonet-Mundus in Varaždin; Bothe & Ehrmann, Oriolik, Oriovac… and as for the artists and designers, works can be seen designed by Bernardo Bernardi, Herman Bolle, Vjenceslav Richter, Mario Antonini, Boris Babić, Željko Kovačić, Numen, Redesign, Grupa, Kristina Lugonja, Krunoslav Kovač and others. 

 The expert exhibition concept and set up are the work of Jasminka Poklečki Stošić.

A great many co-authors and expert associates have taken part in bringing this exhibition to fruition.
Co-authors: 19th century painting: Jasminka Najcer Sabljak; slikarstvo 20th century and 21st century painting – Academician Tonko Maroević; Sculpture –  sc. Ive Šimat Banov; History of the furniture industry –Vanja Brdar Mustapić; Contemporary furniture design –  Ksenija Jurinec, mag. art.

Expert associates: Dr Aleksandar Durman (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences); Dr Danijela Domljan (Forestry Faculty, Zagreb); Silvija Lučevnjak (director of Našice Local History Museum); Danijela Križanec-Beganović (senior curator, Ethnographic Museum, Zagreb)

n addition, exclusively for this exhibition, Goran Vranić, photographer, during spring, summer, autumn and winter 2016,  took pictures of the most integral oak forest in Europe, Spačva.  The photographs are reproduced in the catalogue, published in 152 pages, containing reproductions of all the works and many texts from the area of art, forestry and the furniture industry.

In the exhibition there are 140 exhibits, borrowed from 19 Croatian museums, 27 private owners and 8 corporates

All of these works tell of the beauty, importance and value of the woods.  And this is the intention of exhibition and cycle as a whole – to show that Nature with all its resources is necessary to us human beings, and that we are necessary to it in return.  We are needed, to prevent the global devastation that we have ourselves, in various ways, brought about. But the devastation is going to stop only when we understand that the tree is our best friend, and when we put our arm around it as we do with our best friend.