Scene 1: A woman and a man are sailing in a small wooden boat. He’s offering her a bright red rose, a token of love – or affection, at least. She’s holding a parasol painted white and blue; she’s not reaching for the rose, but is smiling nonetheless, her lips a splash of red standing out against the greyish background. A seagull is perched on the stern, watching the scene unfold. Volim te, budalo mala, says the inscription on the boat. I love you, you little fool.
Scene 2: A woman and a man are relaxing on a beach. She’s lying on a towel with a Union Jack print, reading a book. Her hair is swept up, a jet-black nest towering over the top of her head; her eye make-up is heavy, her lips curved into a sly smile. The Dalmatian Amy Winehouse knows she’s being checked out – the lad behind her dreamily slides his gaze down her legs.
One scene is romantic, the other cheeky and fun. Both of them are works of a Croatian painter and sculptor Neno Mikulić, a Split native whose talent lies in carving incredibly endearing characters and stories out of plain pieces of wood. A single peek into his studio will swoop you into a world of Dalmatian beauties and gents, laid-back beachgoers, experienced moustached sailors and sea captains, and most importantly, lots of seagulls.
The charming sculptures are simply shaped, their chunky figures clad in Speedos and striped shirts. Mikulić doesn’t strive for perfection, his work isn’t polished and shiny. His characters proudly boast their chubby tummies and saggy breasts, living up to the humorous motto ‘I have a beach body – the one I take to the beach’. Every minute on the Adriatic should be spent enjoying the sun and sea, not worrying about how we look in bikinis. Look at this fabulous crew:
This summer, you have a rare opportunity to see a selection of Mikulić’s work at two locations on the coast. One exhibition awaits at the gorgeous Martinis Marchi Heritage Hotel in Maslinica on Šolta island, another is on display in the Passarola restaurant in Hvar town. Both will remain open until September 30 – the two islands are lucky for getting to keep the darling array of characters throughout the summer. That makes for two more months to plan a visit to either Šolta or Hvar… or both. I’d trade all the Warhols and Pollocks of this world for that moustache.