Vinko Kalcic is an internationally acclaimed artist based in London.
Born in Yugoslavia, he began drawing as a young child, creating colourful cartoon-like works inspired by comic books and fuelled by a vivid imagination. At just eighteen years old he began to paint in the bold, frank style of Naïve Art. Just one year later, he sold his first painting. This was the beginning of a career that would take him across the world, exploring the many facets of the Art world, from photography to music and beyond. The young artist’s career launched with successful exhibitions throughout Italy including in Milan, Rome, Turin, Venice, Udine, Trieste, Como etc. and later across Europe in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Formal education followed, primarily in Fine Art/Design but in later years his dedication to artistic and personal development would lead to studies in Multimedia, Digital Compositing for Film/Video in London’s Escape Studios and Creative Studies in Queen’s University, Belfast.
In 1991, the bloodiest interethnic conflict in Europe since the Second World War broke out in Yugoslavia. Vinko a passionate pacifist believing that the value of human life is so high that nothing can justify killing a person deliberately. Conflicts should be settled in a peaceful way because in war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.
For Vinko there was no dilemma, he fled the country and found himself in Northern Ireland on friend’s invitation. He forged connections and friendships with many like-minded artists, most notably the renowned singer-songwriter Tommy Sands. Tommy’s compassionate nature and innate talent are matched only by his dedication to peace activism.
Vinko had a chance to work with him on a number of projects.
Vinko became profoundly aware of the need for healing, in the past, present and future. His family history bore the deep wounds of personal tragedy during the Second World War.
The healing nature of Art is a concept that has echoed throughout Vinko’s work.
The opportunity to put this concept into action came with his involvement in a cross-community outreach project facilitated by the Northern Ireland Peace & Reconciliation Board. Working with Tom Newman, acclaimed producer/engineer of Mike Oldfield’s legendary Tubular Bells’. Vinko provided visuals (design/photography/video) for an exciting reworking of this masterpiece with around 800 segregated schoolchildren in number of schools across Northern Ireland. The idea was to give children the opportunity to unite re-creating this classic album and record in the classrooms. The album was called ‘Tubular Bells with children of Ireland’.
In 1996, using the powerful words of his friend Pete Seeger, Tommy Sands composed ‘The Music of Healing’, a plea for understanding and reconciliation that transcends borders and boundaries. The title of this piece of music inspired Vinko to call his Art ‘The Art of Healing’, leading to a series of artworks that explore the theme of healing that which is hurt and mending that which is broken.
Much like the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi* which inspired me greatly with the philosophy.
The shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa is credited with the introduction of Kintsugi back in the 15th century. When a precious tea bowl was repaired with metal staples, he commissioned craftsmen repair the ugly damage with gold. The finished object was elevated beyond what it had once been. While it was more beautiful and more valuable, it also served as a compelling reminder that there is beauty in fragility and value in broken things. When we honour an object – or a person – for what they have experienced, we elevate them and in this there is healing.