The history of painting in the Makarska region can be traced to the ancient times, proof of which are numerous religious objects. A great contribution was given to contemporary art in this region by six well-known painters – Antun Gojak, Josip Botteri – Senior, Petar Kukolj, Leško Jakov, Ljubomir Videk and Mladen Veža of Brist, who is considered by many as one of the best Croatian painters.
This time we’ll give an overview of Mladen Veža, born on February 7th 1916 in Brist near Makarska. At almost 13, he came to Zagreb where he graduated from the Art Academy in 1937 under the guidance of Vladimir Becić. That same year he had his first exhibition at the Urlich Gallery together with Slavko Kopač.
In 1938 he took part in the very first exhibition entitled ‘Half Century of Croatian Art’ at the Center of Applied Arts, which was blessed by Aloysius (Alojzije) Stepinac, and introduced by Vlatko Maček.
Moreover, Mr Veža participated at several Croatian art exhibitions in Berlin, Vienna and Bratislava with three of his paintings, and after some time, he was named the manager of Agitprop, Zagreb branch.
As for his artwork, the motifs of his place of birth, and the Sava landscape pervade. Among other things, he also did portraits and illustrated books.
In 1950 he moved to Paris where he continued to work on his artistic side by creating his Parisian Cycle which made him famous. The period from 1973 to 1997 is marked by many significant acknowledgements and rewards.
In 1981 Mr Veža retired from his full-time professor position at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb but that did not stop him from making art relentlessly until his death in 2010.
His artwork includes colorful, distinctive landscape images of the Adriatic, paintings of interiors, still life, portraits and compositions which depict the Dalmatian folklore, with a special focus on Brist.
Mladen Veža also displayed his work in Zagreb, Belgrade, Sisak, Maribor, Split, his Brist, Sarajevo, Osijek and Beirut.