Milan DjordjevicYugoslaviaWriting1999

War, violence, killing, poverty, absence of freedom and ugliness was my reality in Belgrade. Civitella was something totally different. That was magic place full of light where everything had a special aura, a place where you can touch and smell beauty. There I was carefree and happy like in my childhood. I was enjoying every minute of my being there and my work in Civitella was some kind of happy playing.

THE PAINTER For Amy Sillman Someone came from Eastern Europe, let’s say, from Russia, someone with bundles under the board of a ship, someone crossed the stormy Atlantic. Someone fed people bread and bore a child who’ll bear the painter.

The painter will feed herself with colors, with open eyes will look at the green of tender Umbria and on the white will merge the colors of the hills and sunflowers, on the blue windows will draw the bunch of grapes, desperately will draw the masculine and the feminine bodies, the interwoven meat, trees and plants. All of us are frozen objects of history and we laugh, and cough, sneeze, we all talk, eat salmon, a green salad and lick ice cream, drink wine, stare at bright screens.

All of us are seeking a most sunny refuge or some rest in a forest clearing. We are coming from wars or nightmares, from family triumphs or shipwrecks. We illuminate dark, untie terrible knots and cheer each other up. We are coming from all parts of the world and we are looking at everything with open eyes.

We are touching the moist snouts of a dog, cat and nostrils of a white horse to feel the world, to overcome fear, madness and death giving them forms and colors.

Civitella Ranieri, September 1999.

Translated from the Serbian by the author and Amy Sillman