(No. 12) Can You Name 10 Architects
or the Great Wave of Sarajevo

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If you gona start New yea… start it with the Wave.
So 2018- the Great Wave of Sarajevo happened- something I believed would never happen. How did it come to this? Upon my return from Tokyo, I was welcomed by the new and rejuvenated Association of Architects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They just made it- to throw the burdens of the past away, and started fresh, anew, progressive and up-to-date association, full of enthusiasm that should be found in these kinds of organizations so they could strive. And they all read my silly posts from Tokyo. Because they were about to start their own web portal, with texts and information concerning architecture and they wanted something to break dullness of just serving information or having essays, I started to write about my experience of Tokyo and Japan for them, in my, somewhat silly and quirky way, but still very observant and informational. The only condition, by Baggio, was not to use too much of offensive language and anger, be on positive side, and I could swear once or twice if I really find it necessary. Those series of articles are named “In search of (Tadao) Ando” and I am still writing it.

New office, educational space and hub

They managed to have so many events, educational and promotional ones, within one year, that it attracted attention of the NGOs that support this kind of activities so that they were able to make a project that was to be their new office for the Association, educational and presentation space and hub for students and young architects. Since they knew my work they wanted to decorate one wall in their hub room with my version of the Great Wave, to expand my 100 Great Waves series. And I accepted. Now, as each Wave has its own story, so does this one. One day, which happens on rare occasion, Baggio came for the lunch, and he was so frustrated, because a freshman brought to him over 300 floors building plan for exercise, instead of concentrating on something smaller in size but precise and detailed. So in his frustration, he asked him if he could name 10 architects, to which this student experienced blackout after naming only 3. I understand him, for I was a cocky student too. I still am. But the story got stuck in my mind and it resurfaced to me when I was thinking about what to do with this Great Wave. So I said, let´s call it Can you name 10 architects, and place 10 architects in boats instead of Japanese fishermen. They liked the idea, and it also showed my cockiness, that sometime works for or against me, pushing me to go outside of my safe area. I haven’t painted a portrait since 1999 and I have never made one based on photograph. So, I proposed Tadao Ando as he was my connection with the Association through my writing, Frank Lloyd Wright, because he was true Japanophile and collector/promoter of Ukiyo-e in the States. Collections in MET NYC, Boston MFA and the Art Institute of Chicago directly benefited from Wright´s love for Ukiyo-e. I also proposed Zaha Hadid and Toyo Ito. Baggio had an idea to have half or all women architects to promote gender equality, and also to have a few from region and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the end, Baggio´s proposition was to have Alejandro Aravena, I guess it was his homage to community oriented projects. The Association proposed for women architects to have Lina Bo Bardi, Denise Scott Brown, Zaha Hadid, Kazuyo Sejima and Farshid Moussavi. As for the regional we agreed on having Bogdan Bogdanović, whose monuments and memorial places I have used in my animated short video MOnuMENTImotion, and for the Bosnian we picked Croatian/Bosnian- Juraj Neidhardt.

Making of

Surface of the wall was already painted white with regular acrylic wall paint; I just impregnated it more, with two layers of waterproof acrylic paint for indoor walls. For this Wave I kept simple palette for the wave area- Prussian blue, Cobalt blue and Cyan; for the background I went full loco- I used 10 decorative acrylic based gold colors. Since they are decorative, they have these wonderful shining names that make decoupage housewives all warm and mushy inside but have no bloody meaning for the painters. As one of my friends, Bosnian/Italian painter, said- “you just need pigment and glue for the paint”, I relied on that, in case these colors gave me any trouble I´ll just apply more glue (acrylic) which in the end I had to. To counterpart all that gold, I used silver for water drops inside the wave area. In this way gold and silver will have similar attributes and based on the light in the room, they will appear lighter, neutral or darker depending upon the strength of the light source, or being directly or indirectly exposed to the light. Boats are made of Raw Sienna and Ochre. For architects I didn´t have much time and space to go into individual body presentation but just to keep it simple and emphasize portrait features, so I additionally assigned different color to each one. Ultra Marine for Ando-san (he always wears black or dark jackets on photos), Tweed Green for Wright (old school wears suit), for Moussavi (I am sorry) I forgot to leave space, Cadmium Red for Bogdanović (I think he would wear Cadmium Red in his younger age), Raw Sienna for Neidhardt (I can imagine him under this old brown blanket in his apartment in Sarajevo), Cyan for Aravena (this guy can wear washed out jeans), Vermillion (sweater) for Mrs. Brown, for Sejima-san- Naples Yellow (only in Japan I saw women wear yellow and beige in such natural way), Gold (dress) for Mrs. Bo Bardi and thick layer of Prussian Blue for Mrs. Hadid. And to protect it all in the end I applied two layers of acrylic impregnation for the walls. For what is different in building up of this painting from the previous Waves is that I have used projector for the first time for the transfer of the drawing. This has speed up the process for 3 days but it slowed it down for 2 because I could devote more time to do outlining.

Thank you card

For the end I can only give my thanks to the Association of Architects in Bosnia and Herzegovina for commissioning me to do this project. I hope that architects who will use this hub will find the Great Wave both relaxing and inspiring. And to share an anecdote for the end, when I showed this finished Wave to my five- year- old daughter, she said- “Papa, it is good, but when are you going to paint something else”. So sweet, perfect for the cheesy ending.

Technique: mural- acrylic decorative/studio paint on indoor wall

Size: 265 x 380 cm
(104.33 x 149.60 inch)

Year: February 2018

Availability: Semi-public mural, commissioned by Vedad Islambegović, President (at the time) of the Association of Architects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, his personal donation to AABH Hub

100 Great Waves
Feb 21, 2013

In 2009 we were lucky to have Mr. Adachi from Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints with Mr. Kyoso as a Japanese traditional woodblock print demonstrator to demonstrate and introduce this technique at the Academy of Fine Arts, Sarajevo. After demonstration I had an opportunity to show Mr. Adachi the photos of my works from 100 Views of Ukiyo-e. When he saw The Great Wave off Kanagawa, he asked me, How many copies did you do? I said, I did only one, as I was aiming to give one original painting to multicopy print. He said, No, You should do 100 copies. At first, the idea of doing 100 paintings of the Great Wave sounded impossible and ridiculous, but in time I realized, I don’t have to do it on canvas, I can do it on walls, it´s nothing new and it´s not the first time someone did it, and yet it becomes a public good unlike painting on canvas that is always private. So I´ve decided whenever I have a chance, to do the Great Wave on walls on each city that invites me to do it.

2018 – Update for the concept 100 Great Waves

As of 2018 I am no longer considering this project to be street art or public only, as this limits my experimental aspect of this series. Therefore my future works will include commissioned art works and indoor murals with private, semi-private and public access.