PAJA JOVANOVIĆ MEMORIAL BUST (1854-1957)
Paja Jovanović Park, Aleksandrovo,
Author: Maja Rakočević Cvijanov, MFA in sculpture
The bust of the famous painter Paja Jovanović made by Maja Rakočević, the artist from Subotica, was placed in the Aleksandrovo suburb in the Paja Jovanović Square, in June 2009. This memorial bust is located on a large children’s playground and an attractive meeting place of the residents of nearby houses. However, the aluminium head on the pedestal in the middle of the park, seems inappropriate in the environment, really like a miniature mark.
Why Paja Jovanović who was born in Vršac, on June 14, a hundred and fifty years ago? Was it because of the iconostasis in the Orthodox church in Aleksandrovo? One can only guess.
There is a connection! At one time, a deputation from Subotica took two icons from the iconostasis of the Orthodox church to the famous painter. Virtuous citizens went to Vienna for the great artist to assess the iconostasis. The prominent painter opened a studio there in 1895 to paint “The Migration of Serbs in 1690”. He was famous! He painted many portraits of kings, painted many popular scenes, which then, as oleographs, decorated homes for decades. He lived in his Vienna studio until the World War II. Later, in 1947, from Belgrade he went back to Vienna again, and died there on 30th November, 1957.
Paja Jovanović assessed it! The two icons remained in Vienna. The iconostasis assessed as “worthless” was given to the poor peasants. It was then put in their not very big church, built in 1818. The work, by an author who was unknown until recently, created in 1766 for a church in Subotica, today is a cultural monument in the church of St. Demetrius, protected by law, because “it represents the highest degree of baroque painting with the Serbs”. *
It is believed that the author of the iconostasis is Jovan Popović. He studied painting in Kiev, 1751 – 1754. He painted the iconostasis in Nikolajevski temple in Szeged in 1761. He is likely to have been hired then to paint the iconostasis, which was finally placed in Aleksandrovo –
by mistake made by the unique artist, but not a very skilled “assessor”. Paja Jovanović did not recognize what he had seen, concluded Miodrag Kolarić, a scientific consultant of the National Museum in Belgrade:
– “It was made with impeccable craftsmanship and consistent style, in a formal and coloristic enthusiasm that had not been seen in the iconostases of Karlovac Metropolitanate until then. The individual figures of the saints are painted on a blue background, with wide and full brush, almost in one breath and without subsequent modelling, and the shadows are happily opposed to bright surfaces.”
Undoubtedly, by “merit” of Paja Jovanović, Aleksandrovo was given extremely expensive legacy for the future! The residents would hardly be able to raise such sum of money even now and let alone then!
Incidentally, by mistake, Aleksandrovo got, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a unique monument!Like a flash, at the end of the first decade of the next century, the memorial bust “appeared” on the hundred and fiftieth birth anniversary of the painter, here, away from Vršac, “thanks to the others.”
The following text in Latin alphabet is inscribed on the plinth:
Paja Jovanović 1854-1957
head 23 cm x 27 cm x 39 cm
plinth 38 cm x 38 cm x 8 cm
pedestal 51 cm x 50 cm x 137 cm
From the book: Public Monuments in the Municipality of Subotica II, by Bela Duranci, Maja Rakočević Cvijanov and Vera Gabrić Počuča in the “Likovni susret” gallery of contemporary art in Subotica
* Art Encyclopedia of Yugoslavia 1 A – J “Miroslav Krleža” Yugoslav Lexicographic Institute
Zagreb, 1984, p. 7; determinant Aleksandrovo (M. Kolarić, PhD).
Augustin Juriga i Željko Vukelić