On January 24 at the Spiegel movie house in Heerlen, the Netherlands premiere of a documentary entitled ‘’Slavko Dujic, life for art’’ by a filmmaker Maurice Nijsten and his assistant Dénise Nijsten with a voice over by Fabienne Nijsten took place.
The premiere was sold out and the audience was welcomed by an editor-in-chief of L1 television Leo Hauben and followed by the performance of Hardy’s Martens composition created for Slavko.
Filmakers followed artist Slavko Dujić and his wife Draška Vukovic for a year at different locations, including Croatia, in Kninn where he was born in 1959. ‘’Slavko Dujic, life for art’’ is a moving trip into various dimensions of life, destructive character of war, its powerful influence on human memories, struggles and strength of human nature.
It shows that destructive character of war and traumas play a dominant role in Slavko’s life but on the other hand his strength to oppose the brutality of war and injustice by creating art is his medicine.
‘’Slavko Dujic, life for art’’ is also a beautiful record of love and friendship. Love between Slavko and Draška unified by difficult past and determination to create a new life in Limburg. They are strong through their differences, their passions and not fading trust in one another.
And friendship between them and a Dutch composer and conductor Hardy Mertens. Friendship which shows that borders are only on paper and passion for art has no limitations.
War and artistic inspiration
Slavko Dujic experienced horrors of war in former Yugoslavia and was not able to sleep for 10 years afterwards. As Hardy Mertens mentions Slavko left war but war never left Slavko.
As a visual artist, Slavko still processes his own war trauma, the horrors of the Yugoslav civil war in his paintings and sculptures . As he points out art has been his medicine and is reflection of his war experiences but also a reaction to injustice and suffering in the contemporary world. He is a fighter for freedom and therefore images of people and the red colour symbolizing blood and life are dominant in his works. His works are impressive. They are multidimensional. Through Slavko Dujic’s works you see the world which suffers but we are not allowed just to stand and watch it. His works do not only depict the subject, they let you witness it, feel it, they engage you and give you food for thought.
Music plays an importnat role in Slavko’s inspirations especially music by his friend of many years Hardy Merten.
New life in Limburg
Slavko Dujic studied history and geography at the Department of Pedagogical Academy at Banja Luka University in Bosnia. There he met his wife Draška Vukovic. They planned to open together an art café but the brutal war in Yugoslavia made it impossible.
During the Serbian attacks Slavko and his family had to flee and to make sure that his grandmother was safe they had to carry her all the way to the refugee camp in Split.
Draška and Slavko fled in 1991 and arrived in Limburg. They have lived in Schaesberg (Landgraaf) since 1992 in his father’s house who had come to Limburg from the former Yugoslavia to earn a living as a miner in in the Oranje-Nassau III in Heerlen. Slavko and Draška had to build a new life from a scratch. They worked in a snack bar and Slavko started studying painting at the Municipal Academy of Fine Arts in Hasselt. Draška studied the Dutch language.
Here also their son was born-Filip who grew up in Limburg and is a journalist now. Slavko Dujić later specialized in a 2-year advanced course at the academy in abstract art, using elements from the old Croatian script.
Slavko’s works are exhibited all around the world including the United States of America, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
In 2022, a solo exhibition of Slavko’s work took place during the arts festival “Cultura Nova” in Heerlen and his work was also shown at “Musica Sacra Maastricht”. As Draška mentions, Slavko’s works are his children and that is why he never sells them.
This inspiring documentary will be aired on L1 on:
Saturday 28 January 4:00 pm | 6:30 pm | 11:00 PM
Tuesday, January 31, 3:15 p.m.
Author: Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska is an award-winning international journalist, TV correspondent, author, chief editor of international journalism centre, Central and Eastern Europe Centre, president of the European Institute on Communist Oppression and a sworn translator. She was born in Warsaw, Poland and has also Armenian blood and roots in Lvov, which is part of Ukraine. She has been living in Heerlen, the Netherlands since 2005.