My Friend the Earth Exhibit by Bruno Zupan Now at Millennium Gate Museum

Regardless of your preference for art – impressionist, representational, minimalist, or abstract – one’s eye for art is totally subjective and its beauty is completely in the purview of the viewer. But both established and novice art enthusiasts look for that special quality in the work that draws them in for a closer look and stirs them to commit the piece to memory or at least compels them to explore more from an artist. If you don’t, that missed opportunity might haunt one for years as they attempt to recapture what they felt at the moment they saw the piece.

But when a world-acclaimed artist like Bruno Zupan shows up in your town, on your computer screen or in a brochure you’re thumbing through, you be remiss and regret not looking deeper into this artist and his work.

The internationally celebrated artist loves the earth, and the world, and his magnificent portraits may help shape how we see it going forward. Initially, I thought his penchant for landscapes might lean toward the mundane, and I could not have been more wrong. I’m not a nature lover, but his almost three-dimensional portrayals of the world we live in draws the viewer into the scenic trip Zupan skillfully guides us through.

Famous the world over for his commitment to images of unforgettable nature settings and evocative city scenes is spending time at his home in Columbus, Georgia as he prepares for a major exhibit in Boston. But from now through April 7, 2023 residents and visitors to Atlanta can view 35 of his most moving and memorable works at the Millennium Gate Museum at Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta.

The Atlanta Daily World spoke with Zupan about his art and today’s art scene.

On the subjects of his art …

I like nature very, very much. Our civilization sometimes goes too far. I have chosen to paint landscapes in different [places], but basically, it is to return beauty back to the art. I think art has gone in so many, many directions. My point is to leave the door open to art. Once you have minimalism and some of those [contemporary] styles, after this you have nothing else to say. There is nowhere else to go.  

I was stumbling from one place to another and in front of my eyes, things were disappearing. People were building fences, people were cutting trees. The most beautiful cities in the world are [now] so crowded and destroyed by tourism. … I find that even in the modern architectural [constructs] they are cutting people’s balconies off. They were the best refuge for mankind to have a little something green to look at.

I don’t like what’s happening on our planet so … the reason I am painting is to show people that beauty still exists if you look for it – but don’t destroy it.

Triptych: Almond Grove in Mallorca

On what is good art …

If it makes you feel good, if you find some poetry. if you find some music, if you even find some beautiful colors, your soul can be pleased. But if you don’t find anything, then just walk away from it. The thing about an exhibition is if you don’t like it you can walk out. But if you’re at a concert with some super modern [experimental] music, you’re stuck there in the chair until the end. 

His inspiration …

I’m pretty much inspired by Greek and Byzantine art. With Byzantine art, I am inspired by the golds, the mosaics, and the simplicity in the way the artist approaches painting the frescos.

Greek mythology inspires me so much too. Ulysses was so smart. He had a lot of wisdom and all of these stories with sirens. I believe some of the Greeks at that time knew more than we know today.

We have all of these gadgets now, and you see people on the bus or the train or in the street and they don’t talk to each other anymore. They are all looking at these smartphones like miracles are going to leap out of them. It’s all about yesterday and never about tomorrow.

Sometimes we have to take one step backward so we can go forward. 

His style … 

When I was exhibiting in New York, it was very important to be new, to be different. It didn’t matter if it was good or bad, it had to be new. A lot of [the art] was provocative, and people provocate things so they can be loved and so you remember them. 

What I like to do is to separate – there is good art and then there is something else.

So many are called artists today, fashion designers and knife throwers call what they do art. I was at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and they had paintings that were made by elephants. It’s a provocation and it’s curious, but I didn’t think very much of it.

What the artist wants viewers to get from the work …

I like to touch people’s souls. Some of us think with emotion and some with reason … sometimes it’s good to put emotion and reason together, it’s a perfect balance.

I like to open doors to art. Even American cities, can be very poetic and they can be beautiful, I’m talking about modern cities, but I like to paint them at night and the lines are softened and a little bit lost. because I don’t like straight lines very much, [they] are an obsession of men and it’s very violent. In nature the straight line doesn’t exist, even a horizon is not straight. But with cities at night, there is poetry with the flashing lights. There’s some kind of hope and you wonder about the people who live behind those lights, are they nice to each other or are they mean to each other? People all over the world are the same … human.

Boston Public Gardens at Twilight

Zupan’s works have been honored worldwide, including Museo de Mallorca, Palais de Nations, Geneva, Library of Congress, Washington D.C., United Nations Headquarters, Columbus Museum of Art, Boston Public Library, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Greenville Museum of Art, Macon Museum of Art, Morris Museum of Art and now at the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlanta. Prestigious private collectors include the Bradley-Turner, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Rothschild, Thyssen-Bornemiza, and Swaroski families. Prince & Princess Michael of Kent, Princess Grace of Monaco, Li Xiannian (former president of China) also collect his exquisite paintings which are a joy to experience.

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