Novine o nama
Tekst u izvornom obliku
By Alexander Billinis
Right off of Sombor’s Holy Trinity Square. next to the elegant neoclassical public library, there stands a small domed chapel. Here is Jene Visinka’s atelier.
Jene Visinka is an interesting fellow, both exceedingly modern yet in his own way. almost an anachronism. With his Backa Hat. piercing blue eyes and handlebar mustache, he easily passes for an official from the old Danubian dual monarchy. His background reflects the mosaic of identity that is Vojvodina, where over two dozen nationalities live. most of them for generations. Jene was born and raised in Svilo-jevo (Szilagyi), a predominantly ethnic Hungarian village a few kilometers away from Sombor, close to the Dan-ube River. He speaks a very Vojvodina Hungarian as flawlessly as his crisp Serbian, but to classify him as Hungar-ian would be a simplification of the subtleties of Vojvodina. „How can I be just Hungarian when I have Czech, Jewish. and Hungarian background?’ he asks.
Coming from a family with agricultural and crafts background, he was drawn to art early. ‘The only way my mother could keep me still was for me to draw, or to color in the lines,’ Jene reflected over a rakija. He studied to be a waiter his mother was a cook, but he started working with a crew of majstori who
painted and restored churches, and that was that. „Maybe it was genetic, my father painted buildings, so perhaps that directed me to become an artist.“ Jene always combined his love for painting with a very, frankly, atypical respect for market forces. ‘Here people are often not realistic in the way they do business. We are in a severe crisis. I charge less for my paintings than, say, two years ago. You have to understand your market.“ Adding thoughtfully, he offers, ‘Sure, maybe elsewhere in Eu-rope I could get more for my paintings, but then I would have to go there, and it is here where I am inspired.’ When he speaks of his land, this flat, fertile part of Serbia known as Vojvo-dina, his voice is almost reverential. „This land, this flatness, and the people and places of Vojvodina, these are my ongoing inspirations.“ Artists from elsewhere in Serbia, more mountain-ous parts, often ask me what is so hard about painting a fiat range,’ and smiling, Jene says, ‘When painting the horizon, the attention to the distance and detail becomes minute and more important than ever.’ My sister in Salt Lake City, Utah, said something similar when I pre-sented her with one of Jene’s paintings. of sunflowers in the field with the towers of Sombor on the distant horizon. The sense of oceanic vastness, combined with the minutia of the distant town. emerged from the canvas.
In addition to his atelier and house in town. Jene owns a sales. a Hungar-ian word loosely translatable as ranch. Here too his pictures crowd out the walls, together with antique home and farm implements worthy of a museum. Indeed, often enough he hosts great parties celebrating Vojvodina arts, mu-sic, and, of course, food and drink. The Salas sailing like a ship over the Vojvodina plains is often enough a key subject of his work. These hardwork-ing ranches are a symbol of Vojvodina, dotted throughout the rural landscape. Jene’s favorite description of the sales is comparing then to islands, or oases. in a sea of wheat, sunflowers, or barley. Jene’s wife Jovanka, who is Serbian, hails from one such salas. Jene recounts how the neighboring salasi of different faiths would refrain from putting out wash or making too much noise when their neighbors celebrated a holiday. ‘It’s how we do things here, and always have,’ Jene says, using the expressive and expansive Serbian term, ‘kod nas.’ Reflecting on his, and his family’s mosaic background, he says, ‘Hybrids are always stronger and each puts their own traits into the mix.’ Stop-ping for a second, he added thought-fully, ‘Perhaps that is part of America’s secret. All those many nations making America great.“
Often Jene will paint series, and now he is focusing on the people of Vojvodina, the good people of the land and towns. ‘The artist has a knack for finding those with pure hearts,’ he says, „and it is those people who I wish to commit to
canvas.“ Whether an old man in local costume lounging on his third glass of well-enjoyed wine, or a baba in kerchief resting on a wooden bench outside her salas, the spirit of the people, and his love for them, jumps off the canvas. „We in this country are not good critics of ourselves,“ Jene offers, but then he says offers one of his own. „I paint con-stantly. but when my mood is negative. the painting generally will not sell, but when, for example. my heart is jump-ing with some sort of happiness, I can barely hold onto the painting.’
Jene is a happy man, with a great modesty about the quality of his work and even more, about the value of his example. „A man is fortunate when he can do what he loves, and pay his bills from it.“ His paintings grace many of our walls, and seldom is a negative word spoken in his pictures’ shadows, Vojvodina is one of those places where the mosaic of identity is celebrated and respected, and it is a credit both to the people of the area and to the Serbian government which fosters this mosaic. It is fortunate that Sombor possesses a prolific artist dedicated to recording in art scenes from his fascinating and beautiful part of Serbia.
To see more of Jene Visinka’s art, visit Sombor in person, or via the internet: http://www.galerija-slika-visinka.com