I am from Sarajevo, which is a city of bridges. My Dad was a painter and they called him a painter of bridges, as he was fascinated by their physical presence, and as a metaphor for connecting people, places and time. It is fitting that he ended up in Bristol, the ‘place of the bridge’ (Brigstowe). He came here in the '90s during the Bosnian conflict, after his studio and the vast majority of his life’s work burned down in a vicious shelling attack. He felt welcome in Bristol, a city where he was accepted for who he was and where he made many friends.
Years later, Dad painted Memories of Sarajevo, the way he remembered it. This is how I also remember the city where I was born - a melting pot of different cultures, religions and ethnicities. Minarets standing tall, side by side with church spires and synagogues, coexisting in perfect harmony. And a bridge that foregrounds it all, a gift from past to future generations, bridging divides, connecting people, places, the past with the present. An optimistic and a dreamy vision of the city under the starry sky.
Dobrivoje Beljkasic's work is in the permanent collections of Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the City Museum of Sarajevo. His work was included in Moved By Conflict exhibition at MShed in 2014 and Refuge and Renewal exhibition at the RWA in 2020.