Danilo Stojanović was born and raised in Pula, on the edge of the Istrian peninsula, the westernmost county of Croatia and then he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where he currently lives and works. Danilo Stojanović’s work is a constellation of references to a fairy world, made of floating figures, contortionists and witches whose lean hands with sharp nails are put on the foreground. The storytelling emerging from the painted abysses looks like an enchantment or an ancient legend. The colors turn from blue to green, so deep and intense they increase a sort of volume inviting to be grazed. Sometimes there’s a hint of red too. I met Danilo Stojanović at his place in Mestre and while we were talking about his work, I imagined to write a story, a plot for the figures represented in his paintings. This is why I decided to start from Danilo’s origins, from a Croatian tale about a distant world made of beliefs, curses and an hostile nature. The following story is a cut-up of sentences taken from the Balkan oral tradition mixed up with references to Stojanović’s displayed works, trying to offer to the reader Stojanović’s bittersweet and grotesque visions.
"Don’t curse the Bora!” said a popular Istrian adage coming from a legend.
Once upon a time, there was a man always angry [...] that used to blame the Bora of all the misfortunes happening to him.
The bora hit hard during the previous nights, uprooting centennial trees and breaking dozens of conifers, a massacre of plants quickly taken away in a ton of floating parts. The eradicated flowers were composing spring scent in the air, a new night blossom.*
The roots were floating around creating a sixteenth-century still life.
The bora in person appeared in front of the man’s doorstep set around Capodimonte, she opened the door wide just with a blow and broke it. The same blow blew out the fireplace in the kitchen: embers and ashes raised up immersing the whole house in a suffocating emerald green fog.
When the situation calmed down, an unknown woman appeared: her hair was tied up, her gaze was sharp and she had a silent grimace.Her skin was blueish almost gray. She was holding a flower’s root, upside down, lifeless. But who was she? where did she come from?
She began to speak. She said: My name is Bora, I’m the wind. I’m exhausted, I hurt myself, I tear my clothes going up and down the Adriatic’s western coast. I break my head hitting the doors, the windows, the roofs, the trees trunks and branches, the boats at dock and sailing; I scratch crawling on thorny bushes and on karstic stones, I get wet and cold rising stormy waves.
I nimbly contort myself jumping like the high tide whose waves shatter on the beaches and then pull back, creating a neverending movement.
If you blame me again, I’ll take the roofs off your houses, starting with yours.
Hearing these words, the oldest lady, the mother of the family, threw some blessed olive tree branches on the fire.
At that point Bora stood up and disappeared.
From that moment on, Istrians and Dalmatians never blamed the Bora. They wrap themselves tightly in winter coats, knowing that the Bora keeps the air they breathe clean." **
*The exhibition’s title, “Midnight blossom" refers to a particular type of flower called Midnight Cereus, a cactus originally from Arizona, also called “Queen of the Night” and “Princess of the Night” for its typical midnight blooming. The morning after, the flowers close their petals and wilt. This particular blossom is perfectly linked to Stojanović’s visions.
**Inspired by “Non maledire la Bora!” included in “Favole e leggende dei Balcani. Slovenia, Istria, Croazia, Bosnia ed Erzegovina" by Giacomo Scotti, Besamuci, Lecce, 2020.