It has been 10 years since I visited Sarajevo, a city where my father and his wife and my brother and sister live. My father was unwell towards the end of the year and I planned a visit right after the holidays and the mayhem of travel during that time.
Sarajevo is a city in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. It sits in a valley surrounded by gorgeous mountains. lt was the host of the 1984 Olympic Games and a target during the 1990's conflict in the region. People are generous, welcoming, always cracking a joke, even though the city (along with the country) has made slow progress to join the rest of the newly created countries post 1990s. It is a wonderful place to visit and I will work on this idea as an additional chapter to my ambitious life:) I will share that in the future as I work out the details and logistics.
But this visit not only gave me time in the city, but also time with my siblings and an opportunity to visit my father's studio, his creative den and to speak to him about what lies ahead. His recent brush with the end of life is shifting things in his head and since this is still fresh, he's taking his time to figure out how to proceed. Most recent works in the studio are the "flowers" but he's now debating whether they will get an additional layer as a reflection of his experience.
My father works in texture and layers. The recent paintings are cleaner and I tend to gravitate towards them as I am drawn to essential, minimal lines and colors. He starts with cleaner, whiter surfaces, but he is a layered and complex man, and this is reflected on each one of his canvases. He tends to collage everything that is around him into his work, rags that he cleans his brushes with, women's bustiers, papers, writings, thoughts and he even glues brushes. For him Brush represents his Bread, how he makes his living. I never read that in any of the interviews but I appreciated hearing this from him.
He varies in his subject matter. Women, self portraits, Old Bridge from our home town of Mostar, tree of life, crosses to name a few.
His women are nudes. "Woman" represents a mother; nurturing and giving, but also a raw woman that is a strong, sensual and sexual being. It has always been interesting to see his dedication to this subject matter and how that contrasts with him and his engagement with women. I can sometimes only grasp his respect and honor and awe through these canvases.
The bridge paintings were inspired by the destruction of the Mostar bridge, a 500 year old gorgeous example of the Ottoman architecture, destroyed by the Croatian military in the 1990s. For him, bridge is never broken or destroyed as it represents the ties between us, ties between the cultures that live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He sees it transcend it's physical existence and continue to bring us all together.
His studio space is filled with light, but he's a night owl and tends to draw the shades and work in the quiet hours of the night. We are different in a way that I prefer silence and he needs music, TV and loud sound at ALL times. Every space he inhabits, his studio, his apartment, his gallery, has his signature. He sees space as a blank canvas and constructs walls, designs built-in furniture that is perfectly fitted into the given space. He is meticulous and even his notebook is a piece of art onto itself. He draws in it, highlights, writes in ranges of sizes and colors to prioritize his plans and obligations. I was always fascinated how organized and precise he is- that streak is not as emphasized in my character:)
He's a charismatic being, and for me an enigma in some ways. I understand him as an artist very well, and am amused and entertained in his company. I never understood him as a father figure. We very much lived separate lives, but our commitment to our work and our need to express ourselves through our respective mediums brought us closer together in recent years.
My father's name is Adin Hebib. He lives and works in Sarajevo and I hope that I will be able to take some of you to his studio down the road for an intimate experience with him and his work.