The story of artists and Istria usually begins with Vladimir Nazor and his novel Veli Jože, which takes place in the region and is inspired by Istrian folklore and folk tales. Veli Jože has marked the childhood of generations of Croatian readers, and, for me, that is still the first name that comes to mind when someone mentions Motovun.
The same little town inspired Miroslav Šutej, one of the most important Croatian painters of the 20th century. During his lifetime, Šutej often lived and worked in Motovun. Researching him a bit more, I came across an interesting tidbit: in the 60′s, the New York Museum of Modern Art bought one of Šutej’s pieces and the painter used the money to – buy a house in Motovun!
Grožnjan is another place of rich cultural heritage, which many refer to as an “Artist City”. This is largely due to the sculptor and painter Aleksander Rukavina, who founded the Art Colony there some 50 years ago, inciting a revitalization of the town, which is now regularly visited by artists and art lovers. Grožnjan is also a favorite destination of jazz lovers, thanks to the Jazz and Back Festival, launched by the music legend Boško Petrović.
Famous names from the world of culture are also linked to Umag. The writer Ivo Balentović, whose works have been translated into several European languages, lived there and an Italian writer, Fulvio Tomizza, was born in the area, and used to describe it his books often.
Interestingly, today’s director of the Umag Municipal Library, Neven Ušumović, is also a writer. He has been on my to-be-read list for a while and it’s time to dedicate myself to his stories. Preferably, somewhere on the beach.