If you asked people in Croatia – or art lovers in general – what their favourite Croatian artist is, you’d probably get a couple of well-known names as answers. Edo Murtić, Vlaho Bukovac, the regular distinguished crew.
However, if you asked anyone around here to pick a favourite artist whose favourite subject was the life at sea, there’s only one name that could possibly pop up: Vojo Radoičić.
Even those who maybe haven’t heard the name would instantly get what you mean if you told them about darling little paintings of traditional seaside houses, charming boats, seafarers in striped shirts and sailor’s hats. Radoičić was a local legend who stuck to his recognisable artistic style, colourful and cheerful, almost childlike in nature. No matter what your tastes are, his work never ceased to amaze and put smiles on people’s faces: snippets of the coast brimming with colour and joy, all of the tiny characters reminding you of people you’ve met at a certain point in your life.
Radoičić was born in Požega in 1930. He was a member of Croatian Association of Visual Artists both in Zagreb and Rijeka, and used to live and work in Begovo Razdolje, Rijeka and Vienna. He had more than 160 exhibitions in Croatia and abroad, and held numerous awards for his contribution to national culture.
On June 27, the recently published well-deserved monography of the beloved artist was presented to the public in the City Hall in Rijeka. The event was attended by a large crowd, gathering to pay respect to the legend of Croatian art. He was there, not in best shape as his health has been deteriorating for some time already, but smiling nonetheless. The mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel said Radoičić might have been born in Požega, but when it came to choosing a place to live, he chose Rijeka on purpose – a best compliment a city could get from a man and an artist whose world is creative, filled with colour, imagination and maritime motives; full of childlike curiosity and playfulness that won over everyone who’s ever seen his work.
On July 15, Vojo Radoičić passed away.
If you take a walk through the streets of any Croatian seaside town, especially Rijeka, there’s no chance you won’t see at least a couple of Radoičić’s paintings. They’ll be looking back at you from window displays, gallery walls, souvenir shops. He was a man who weaved a large part of his soul into Rijeka as a city, awarding all of us with little pieces of his imagination. His legacy will live on, those heartwarming images smiling at us and reminding us not to take the wonderful coast we live on for granted. Rest in peace, Vojo – we’ll never forget you.
Image sources: Wikipedia, ALM Gallery