The artistic world of Stijepo Gavrić (Tuzla,1958) can certainly be interpreted best with his sculpture entitled Sculpting Oneself: human hands emerging from a stone mass. In one hand is a chisel stuck in the stone, while the other one is holding a hammer with a sweeping gesture. Thus, form emerges from nothingness; a human figure comes out of a block of stone, like at the beginning of the world´s creation. This sculpture explains the secret of the art of sculpture excellently, which could be defined by saying that, by taking away, the sculptor is – adding. The sculptor resists nature´s wild forces, the mechanisms of eternity and time which are turning the frail human individual slowly into dust, leaving pure form, harmony originating from his head and heart. Art, in Benn´s words, is nothing else but pure form anyway, which is achieved in stone, in verse, in musical notes, but always leaves a pensive human face behind. Stijepo Gavrić is a sculptor of human physiognomy – his busts and portraits are distinct, irrespective of whether they are of anonymous girls, Madonnas, saints, Church Fathers, or writers like Zijo Dizdarević and Ivo Andrić. It is not the least unusual that Gavrić´s favourite portrayed character is precisely Andrić, who was an admirer of bridges, as a sort of sculptures overcoming abysses, which present “pure thought petrified in karst.” Like Andrić, Gavrić is fascinated by the classics, he learned from Phidias, from Michelangelo, but also from Hebbel and Rodin.
Gavrić replaced the convulsed attitude of Rodin´s The Thinker, looking bewildered through the Gates of Hell, by a mild gloom, the melancholy of our world´s transience, whose one moment he at least halts like a reflection in bronze, a trace in stone. Gavrić resists the temptation of monumentality; he is more interested in details, the form of the female body, a naked female lap, covered by a hand, as an indication of chastity and shame. Gavrić is a sculptor of human hands, a hand described by Ranko Marinković as “hands smart and busy, almighty and cunning, horrible, a criminal´s hands. They can be squeezed in a fist, spread in a fan and folded in the most servile prayer. A gun and the foe´s throat can be reached by them….“ However, Gavrić sculpts hands in the silk of yearning, golden hands in the moment of encounter, when by the magic of two epidermises touching a new cosmos is established, the cosmos of love. The infinite morphology of human hands in Gavrić´s world comes down to two fugues – the fugue of love and the fugue of prayer. The strain of hope and the rhythm of caressing. As if our whole dedicated and cursed fate is generated between these two initial positions.
Stijepo Gavrić lives the fate of the Bosnian artist. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts Sarajevo, he became a teacher and sculpting instructor at the High School of Applied Arts in Sarajevo, where he has taught Sculpture, Sculpting Techniques and Technologies and Industrial Design (since 1985). He left the Sarajevo war hell to go into exile, carrying his heavy sculpting chisels and tools on his own back through the Bosnian woods, to find employment in a private stonemasonry business in Germany. After the war he returned to his old school, where he has been working ever since as a remarkable teacher and educator. His monuments and sculptures have been put up at many places, he held exhibitions in numerous galleries, received numerous awards, among others he received the Best Sculpture Award from the Association of Artists of Applied Arts and Designers of BiH. He is a fully matured artist in his prime, so that we may expect new works and creative metamorphoses from him, new gifts of the artistry and spirit of this excellent artist in this social lethargy and spiritual wasteland of ours.
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