for Hildegerd, my dearest Norwegian friend
Some people feel like home… As long as they are around, you are safe and loved. It can be a tough love sometimes – because real friends won’t flatter you or sugar-coat what they think, but that’s the part of it – and probably one of the best sides to true friendship. I am wary of peeps who always agree – there is something scary in it, it’s as if they take you for a megalomaniac , or they simply don’t care at all, both send chills down my spine. Myself, i make the effort to disagree, i get out of my comfort zone so to speak up – and i think that’s the way to go, as long as it is coming from a good place.
The only sub-kind of frienemies whom i find worse than yes-people is the bullies who go ballistic on you like: You know what’s your problem?! And then they pour insults – while faking it’s just their being honest… It’s not – it’s just tiny veiled bullying and it’s not doing any good to anyone.
That’s why a friend who is honest and upfront and who bothers enough to tell you stuff others won’t – is worth of gold and should be cherished like the proverbial apple of the eye.
That’s what i found in Bibi, one of my closest and oldest friends – we met while teenagers and are going through fire and water together ever since.
I can rationalize now – that i adore her because she’s an awesome person and genius artist and a great friend… But 27 years ago, when we first met – i knew nothing of it, i simply loved her at the first sight; some friendships do start like that – and all of mine that proved to last indeed started like that. When i think of it, i tend to believe it’s some kind of recognizing the person you just met – is it reminiscences from past lives, is it seeing something invisible by plain sight – i don’t know.
Anyway it is, Biljana herself – and her artwork , to me are like a window which i open and look through when surrounding me Balkan reality once again gets too grim.
In words of Ivo Andric, in Balkans “every fifty years the wise shut up, the fools start talking and the scum gets rich” – and it’s far from easy to live in such surroundings, while keeping more or less sane, that’s where true friends and great art come to one’s rescue, otherwise it would be impossible to survive it.
To me it’s not surprising that it’s Latin American writers who got famous for their surrealist novels, as they had their own share of reality bites – and no wonder Balkan directors got famous for movie endings where sky opens and monkeys drive tanks and cows swim upstream – all the way up to the deserted islands…
Tina Brooks, an entrepreneur and mystic from Canada, and a dear friend of mine, has written a great essay on something which happened the other day – a friend’s sister was in a shelter in Israel, bombs landing around her; i’ll link to it as soon as she posts it on her blog*, for now it’s on her Facebook and there are numerous supportive comments and expressions of compassion, several friends wrote they can not even imagine being in such a situation… I can – and i was in such situation more than once, sadly.
When NATO bombing started back in 1999 – that very evening Biljana was at my place, and from the balcony we watched the cascade bombs falling and buildings catching fire – in what seemed to be a proximity that one can reach by arm… There are no words to describe what one feels during such times – it’s not fear, it’s not panic, it’s some kind of disbelieve that it is happening and an expectation to wake up and realize it was just a dream… Yet, we were not dreaming. It’s things like that make people bond on the deepest level, these unspeakable experiences which surpass anything one expects to go through – and survive in the course of their life.
Of course, we’ve had loads of fun together too – because friendships, like life itself, has to have both, good and bad.
I mentioned before that i am moving to Moscow, Russia soon – and i feel anxious because i am leaving my parents, my furbaby and my friends behind. I’ve been feeling this spasm in my stomach for days now, this pain before leaving… and it doesn’t get any better, it’s only that with time one eventually gets used to it.
Bibi (an endearing diminutive for Biljana) threw a farewell party for me the other day – and with friends and family we stayed until early morning hours talking about life and laughing and being sad and – an inevitable part of Montenegrin hospitality - enjoying some delicious foods.
And i told her that i would love to write about her artwork, that it’s been for quite some time now that i want to do it and that i feel intimidated because i get it on an intimate level , i am not an art expert or critic, i am afraid to do it a dis-service… She laughed, she said – these technical terms you worry about, they don’t matter at all… and, as she was seeing me off, she looked somewhere up, above and she said: Look at the sky, it seems it’s going to rain tomorrow!
And i laughed too – because she was right, it doesn’t really matter that i don’t know much neither of origins of abstract expressionism nor of traditional oil painting techniques, what’s important for me personally is that her artwork moves me, i feel it, i experience full range of emotions while being immersed into her paintings… They talk to me, in their strikingly colorful anti-figurative language and they tell me of things which surpass the verbal and strike directly into one’s intuitive perception.
Of course, i can’t deny that i am more than proud that my own taste in art – albeit i am not very knowledgeable about it – does coincide with UNESCO experts’ who endorsed Biljana Kekovic’s work; actually she’s the most recognized and awarded Montenegrin painter of younger generation – you can see the long list of wards she received here.
Light works in mysterious ways, as the saying goes – Bibi’s and my father are life long friends too – and the gentleman about whom i wrote in The Lord of Swiftness and The Secret Service, Mr Kekovic, is actually her father.
Some things in life seem predestined indeed – and it’s good it is so because they give us that certainty of Tarot’s Four of Swords - which creator of Osho Zen Tarot, Ma Deva Padma, depicted as a woman who watches into the colorful window frame, while standing in a gray landscape… That’s pretty much how i dive into the colorful world of Bibi’s paintings, when the reality gets grim – i squeeze myself through the frame and jump into the whirlpool of the colors caught while trance dancing ecstatically… I come back feeling reborn – i fetch the ecstasy of the colors with me and i imbue the reality with it… Slowly, but surely – the reality responds and restores its natural colors – those of love, light and laughter.
Biljana Kekovic‘s paintings at online gallery “Montenegrina”: http://www.montenegrina.net/pages/pages_e/painting/b_kekovic/gallery1.html
ETA: *link to Tina’s blog entry added, enjoy