The Seven Realms by Nikola Vudrag exhibited at Dubai Jetex FBO Terminal 

Srecko Mavrek

nikola vudrag
All images: Private album(s)

January the 22nd, 2024 – Renowned Croatian artist Nikola Vudrag conceives The Seven Realms, his latest site-specific installation for Dubai’s Jetex FBO Terminal, a starry night contemplated in the desert.

His seven precious diamonds, black but shining, are seven mysterious realms to explore. Curated by Kiseki, highly specialised art advisory guided by the expertise of Yurina Matsui and Eric Merchant, Seven Realms is tailored on the prestigious space of Jetex Terminal, which is the biggest and most luxurious facility in Dubai and has received many nominations for its unique design.   

The UAE’s tenacious and visionary spirit is embodied in these different monumental diamonds. In addition to representing the seven emirates of the federation, each sculpture represents their differing landscapes. As an example, one diamond depicts the golden dunes of Rub’ al Khali and Abu Dhabi, where the desert’s fiery whispers sculpt the landscape. In another, the Arabian Gulf and Sharjah region are captured in azure depths and shimmering waves.

A third piece pays homage to the Fujairah and Hajar Mountains, whose ancient peaks bear witness to the passage of time. The fourth is Ajman’s unique biodiversity and protected natural reserves. As for the remainder of the sculptures, they represent the cosmopolitan vibrancy of Dubai, the cultural tapestry of ancient Umm Al Quwain, and the captivating natural scenery of Ras Al Khaimah. They are a testament to the human spirit, resolute and resilient amidst tumultuous tides of progress. The UAE’s metamorphosis is illustrated in Seven Realms, a tribute to the country’s ability to transform arid deserts into vibrant cities and to bloom like diamonds under immense pressure. 

The Seven Realms represents a milestone in Vudrag’s increasingly well-established career. Opened in December 2023 in the context of COP28 (United Nations Climate Change Conference), The Seven Realms will remain on view for VIP passengers arriving and flying from Jetex until the end of March 2024. While moving to the terminal, one can contemplate, touch, and cross Vudrag’s diamonds. There are seven stories of extraordinary growth that have shaped the UAE’s seven realms, meeting thousands of others along the way. “These sculptures are not mere objects but vessels that encapsulate the essence of the UAE’s diverse regions. Each diamond sculpture represents a story of resilience, a testament to the unwavering spirit of this remarkable land,” said Nikola Vudrag. Vudrag’s Iron Tapestry is presented alongside the Seven Realms. 

Sculptor Nikola Vudrag from Varazdin, Croatia, has acquired an international reputation after his Iron Maiden mesh sculpture sold for 712,000 euros at the charity auction in Warsaw in June 2023. As a co-founder of the Croatian Association for the Promotion and Development of Intellectual and Cultural Creativity, a kind of cultural centre of Varazdin, he gathered a dozen artists of various profiles to jointly initiate the growth of creative industries in the north of Croatia. Furthermore, several public monuments to him have been erected throughout Croatia, among which stand out three busts of Dr. Franjo Tudjman, the first Croatian president, as well as the monumental works ‘Zacin zivot’ in Koprivnica and ‘Hercules’s Hind’ and a 12-metre monument to Nikola Tesla in Varazdin.

Another of his sculptures of Nikola Tesla is included in “Sit & Meet – Path of Croatian Greats” in downtown Zagreb, which presents sculptures of 13 of the most significant and popular Croatian greats. Nikola Vudrag is otherwise known as the author of Tudjman’s bust made of bullets. He also collaborated with the Croatian National Bank and the Croatian Mint on the production of Croatian euro coins. He is the author of the conceptual and artistic designs of several gold and silver coins that were made in the Croatian Mint – Croatian Monetary Institute. At the beginning of the year, he was invited by a curator from London to exhibit at the Saatchi Museum. Vudrag plans to hold an exhibition in London in the coming period, where he was invited as the first Croatian artist to represent his work and Croatia through an independent exhibition.  

Vudrag is currently completing sculptures for two very significant events in his career – the Malta Art Biennale and the Venice Biennale. For the first, he will present three monumental sculptures related to the series of tasks of Heracles, a concept that tells about the traditions of our region told through the prism of Greek and Roman culture, which partly formed us. In Venice, they will place his two sculptures in front of Palazzo Mora, which will complete the story that began in Malta. He will use those two platforms to present a set of works in which, according to his knowledge, for the first time in art an aesthetically shaped mold is used as a materialised art, while the light from within shaped by a metal mold forms the idea that the work deals with. Such a presentation, he believes, can not only serve as a springboard in his artistic career, but also contributes to the general recognition of our area and tells the story of the tradition that shaped Europe and our spaces. 


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