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 »  Home  »  Croatians in B&H  »  Kristian Krekovic portrayed Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Mother, King Gustav V, etc.
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 »  Home  »  Religion  »  Kristian Krekovic portrayed Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Mother, King Gustav V, etc.
Kristian Krekovic portrayed Mahatma Gandhi, Queen Mother, King Gustav V, etc.
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  03/7/2009 | Croatians in B&H , People , Culture And Arts , Religion | Unrated
Distinguished Croatian painter from Bosnia and Herzegovina

KrekoviŠ's autoportrait. Source of the photo:

Croatian artist, born in the village of Koprivna near Tuzla in Bosnia - Herzegovina, in the family of forester from Croatian region of Lika, died in Palma de Mallorca. He studied in Vienna and Paris, and already since 1928 was a member of the French Society of Visual Arts. The same year he was awarded the gold medal in Bordeaux (Exhibition of international art). Krekovic portrayed many ministers, statesmen, and outstanding persons like
  • Mahatma Gandhi (1931 in his atelier in Paris),
  • the English Queen (in 1938, upon her request; the portrait is kept in the Buckingham palace in London, see [Sabater, p. 19]: "...Como expresi├│n de su trabajo en esta ├ępoca, basta citar el famosos retrato que hizo de la Reina Mar├şa de Inglaterra, retrato que adorna una de las estancias del Palacio Real de Buckingham.",
  • the royal family of Sweden (King Gustav V upon his invitation to Stockholm in 1948, when he was at the age of 90).
His extensive opus of 143 large format works, devoted to Croatian history, including 63 portraits of Croatian Dukes and Kings (from Porga from 620 till Stjepan Tomasevic in 1463), was unfortunately not preserved. Between 1928 and 1966 he visited Peru many times, so that his work became deeply imprinted by the life and art of Incas. Since 1955 he lived in Peru, and accepted Peruvian citizenship offered to him. He had great success with exhibitions of

Presente y pasado del fabuloso Per├║

(that is, Present and past of the fabulous Peru) in

  • New York (Law Memorial Library Columbia University; Ambassador Hotel, 1956),
  • Washington D.C. (National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, 126,000 visitors in July and August 1955, that is, more than 2,000 people daily!); see an excerpt from the article by Thomas Beggs, director of the Fine Art Collection of the Smithsonian Institution, published in "The American Artist",
  • Siracuse (The Siracuse Museum of Fine Arts, 1956)
  • Boston,
  • Philadelphia (University Museum, 1955),
  • Madrid (Circulo de Bellas Artes, 1957),
  • Barcelona (Galeria Grif├ę & Escoda, under the patronage of the president of Peru, Ayutamient de Barcelona, and presented by the Instiut of Hispanic Studies, 1957),
  • Lima (exhibition opened by the president of Peru, Manuel A. Odria, 1954),
  • Vienna (Neue Hofburg, or The New Palace - the largest and newest part of the Imperial Palace in Vienna; the exhbition was visited also by Dr. Adolf Schaerf, president of Austria, 1958),
  • Palma de Mallorca (Casa de Cultura, 1961), etc.

In the course of Krekovic's first exhibition in the USA (held in New York) he was described as "Yugoslav painter". Krekovic did not permit such misrepresentation, and warned the organizers that he would not allow the exhibition to go on if he were not described as Croatian-peruvian painter. He succeeded, despite the protests from the embassy of ex-Yugoslavia.

It is not surprising that he is often described as Croatian born Peruvian artist, or as Poeta de la pintura. Krekovic signed himself as pintor croata or pintor croata-peruano. His grand exhibition of ethnographic paintings held in 1954 in Lima, was opened by the president of the state.

In 1966 the famous Peruvian city of Cuzco (or Cusco), the old capital of The Inca Empire and "The archaeological capital of South America", conceded him honorary citizenship and the Gold medal of the city.

Since 1965 he settled in Palma de Mallorca, where in 1977 he built the Museum of Palma de Mallorca with his works of art, now known as Museu Krekovic (Collecci├│n Pintor Krekovic). The Krekovic Museum was officially opened in 1981 by the Spanish Queen Sophia. In the guestbook she wrote:

...magnifico museo y magnifico pintor.

The Spanish Queen is also the honorary president of Krekovic's gallery.

Mahatma Gandhi, who was a personal friend of Kristian Krekovic (see [Gaspar Sabater, pp. 38 and 54]), wrote the following:

El sentimiento de Kristian Krekovic hacia el mundo es único. Impregna todo su arte e impregna con extraordinario creatividad y constructivo carácter.

Manuel Vegas Castillo, Director of Culture of the Peruvian Ministry of Education:

Kristian Krekovic, the Croatian-born artist, has dedicated his life and his Art to the fabulous Empire of Incas, Pre-Incas and present day Hispano-American Folklore, with such prodigality of love and truth, art and knowledge, force and sensuality, sacrifice and perseverance, the likes of which have never been equaled by any other painter in the artistic history of America.

Over the long years when I had the honor of directing and guiding the culture of my country, I have been able to observe the superhuman efforts made by KrekoviŠ who visited museums all over the world to study the New World archaic cultures and to paint in their collections the precious textiles, pre-Columbian jewels and adornments for his paintings. I was also an exceptional witness to his expeditions in the native regions of the Andes to heights around 10.000-12.000 feet [3-4.000 meters], in order to seek out and paint the purest and most representative types of the Aboriginal race, there on the spot.

The splendid Krekovic collections enjoys its great prestige because it is the only in the world which presents the Art and Culture of the South American Indian that legendary bronze race of the Incas, with such astonishing and brilliant results, excellence in picturing, strongest historical and scientific authenticity, creative imagination and magnificent interpretation. The whole undertaken and realized by one single man. This explains the enormous success, endorsed by the critics, which his exhibitions have enjoyed in the most important cultural centres of Europe and U.S.A.

Krekovic's paintings are such expressive compositions, and almost three dimensional. His brush-strokes are definitive, his colouring luminous. He cannot be classed among any existing Schools, he is quite unique and apart. His Peruvian work has no equivalent, and occupies a special place, not only in the artistic history of Peru, but in the Art of all time. Nobody can visit his collection without being profoundly impressed by it.

For his artistic merits the Peruvian Government has granted Mr. Krekovic the "Order of Merit for distinguished Services" and furthermore the President of the Republic of Peru has patronised his exhibitions all over world, a most exceptional distinction.

BARCELONA; "La Vnaguardia Espanola": Juan Coret├ęs, 1957.

" sensational, without any exaggeration, can be qualified the exhibition brought to us by the Croatian-born Peruvian artist Kristian Krekovic. His, for the most part monumental paintings are masterly and complicated composition, with absolutely perfect drawing, masterly treatment of chiaroscuro and brilliant and luminous palette...".

The above two texts are taken from the prospect Krekovic Collection, Palma de Mallorca (many thanks to Mr. Vladimir Novak for this and related materials).

Es uno de los más grandes pintores de todos los tiempos.
Camille Mauclair, see [Gaspar Sabater, p. 45-46]

Krekovic used Croatian Glagolitic script in daily correspondence with his friend Marko Dosen (president of Croatian Parliament during the WWII period), as was the custom also in his family during his childhood. His wife was Sina, a Frenchwoman who mastered Croatian language perfectly, using many Croatian expressions and words already expelled during the Yugoslav period. Born in Paris in 1910, daughter of outstanding surgeon, she spoke also Quechua, Catalonian, Spanish, Italian, German (studied piano at the Vienna Conservatory), French, Russian, and English. Krekovic dreamed about free Croatia, and to start again working on his Croatian cycle, but he died too early. It is worth mentioning that in 2002 Javier Bizarro Bentitz won the prestigious "Premio de Poesia Antonio Machado" with his poem Los fantasmas del Parque Kristian Krekovic, among 154 other works.

We mention the monograph Kristian Krekovic. El artista y su obra (1997) written by Gaspar Sabater and published in Spain. The Master thesis (M├ęmoire de Maitrise) under the title Kristian Krekovic was defended by Ingeborg M├Âller Rizo at Universidad Cluny Espana (CLUNY ISEIT) in 1974., based on personal interviews with Sina Krekovic, wife of Kristian Krekovic.

Kristian Krekovic

His works of art have been bought in 1950's by three prestigious american institutions for their collections: Philadelphia Museum, Siracuse Museum of Fine Arts, and Museum of the American Indians in New York.

Espacio dedicado exclusivamente a la exposici├│n de la obra del artista croata Kristian Krekovic, instalado en Mallorca desde 1965 hasta su muerte en 1985. Presenta adem├ís algunas piezas de artesan├şa popular de Per├║, pa├şs donde tambi├ęn residi├│ el pintor.

"Poeta de la pintura" llam├│ a Eulogio D├şaz del Corral el pintor croata Kristian Krekovic.


A detail from 1931 portrait of Mahatma Gandhi by Kristian KrekoviŠ made in his atelier in Paris. There was a deep friendship among them. Source of the photo:

Kristian Krekovic with Pope Paul VI in the Vatican, 1972, bringing his gifts. Pope Paul VI especially liked portraits of Virgin Mary with Jesus. Source of the photo:

Virgin Mary with Jesus, surrounded with angels representing all human races. Source of the photo:

The author of these lines believed that this is KrekoviŠ's portrait of Queen Mother of England (1900-2002), made in 1938 upon her request. However, due to kindness of Lady Jadranka Njer╣ Beresford Peirse from GB I learned that this is certainly not the case. So it remains as an open question who is the lady with the crown that KrekoviŠ portrayed.

 Source of the photo:

Tryptich for the Anglican Church in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. KrekoviŠ on the right. Source of the photo:

King Gustav Vth at the age of 90, portrayed by Kristian KrekoviŠ in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1948. Source of the photo:

Another portrait by Kristian KrekoviŠ. Who is this boy?
Portrait of a son of August Schmitz, Sweden 1948, by Kristian KrekoviŠ. See here.

KrekoviŠ's autoportrait, Cuzco, Peru 1950. Note Croatian and Peruvian Coats of Arms side by side. We recommend you to view this nice portrait at the distance of about 2 meters from the screen. Source of the photo:

My deep gratitude to Association Amigos del Museo Krekovic in Palma de Mallorca, for providing these important photos on their web dedicated to life and work of Kristian KrekoviŠ. He is often called pintor croata - peruano, that is, Croatian - Peruvian painter.

Gaspar Sabater: Kristian Krekovic, el artista i su obra [PDF], Consell de Mallorca, Departement de Cultura, 2009 digital edition by the Association de Amigos del Museo Krekovic, 80 pp monograph about the painter, published in Spanish.

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko «ubriniŠ
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