Very few people that you meet will be able to say that they traveled the world and indulged, in this case via painting, in the most beautiful places on Earth. This kind of an experience one can say is a journey of the heart and soul, in this case of an artist by the name of Kreso Niki Cizmic. Through his work and this interview one can better understand the journey of an artist when he is ruled by his heart and not by a material lifestyle.
Kreso Cizmic was born in 1953 near Split. He studied painting in Croatia, Italy and France but his original occupation and formal graduation was in law. He practiced law in his native Split. His father Ivo Cizmic was a well known lawyer in Mostar.
“Law is pressure, going to the office then to the court followed by a visit to the prison where some of your clients reside. I couldn’t deal with the reality of helping in the determination of someone’s life and the breaking up of families. The only pressure I can endure was that of beauty. My goal as an artist was for people to discover themselves in my paintings. I want to bring people closer to the beauty nature and thus make our world a nicer more harmonious place to exist in. Art is about feeling and feeling is everything. Politicians never speak about beauty when they make decisions, it’s omitted. What is beautiful is usually simple and small things make up life”.
Kreso Niki Cizmic lives by a simple philosophy: “I’m a simple man, I have what I need. I’m satisfied with salsa pomidor, sardines, you know, small village food. Baked lamb, once a month, is a delicacy for me. To swim I only need two meters not one kilometer of water. My goal has been and still is for my life to be mine. God gave me something that I’ve learned to do well, it is through painting that I also discovered myself, and to believe in peaceful determination, hope and beauty”.
Cizmic’s philosophy is translated into his art as can also be confirmed by postcards he receives from his clients. One says: “The beautiful colors in your paintings make me feel happy”. Another writes: “When we look at your painting, we feel like we are forever in a beautiful place.” When you immerse yourself in a Cizmic painting your senses are overwhelmed by the infinite array of colors whose relationship to one another is glorious, harmonious, a happy neighborhood where everyone comes out to play and picnic. To go with the above comments and observations, his paintings embrace an eternal spring or summer and cold snow seldom makes it on his canvas.
The soft spoken and outspoken artist considers him self and contemporary impressionistic landscape painter, even if his landscape for the past ten years is New York, his immediate home. The themes of many of his paintings now are familiar places of this famous city, including the Brooklyn Bridge, 42nd Street, and themes in Central Park. The buildings are by no means perfectly vertical as they appear in real life but with Cizmic’s large brush strokes take on a more dynamic, warm, malleable existence. One thing you can expect in almost every Cizmic painting: The colors explode upon their subject giving it a kind of a 4th of July blessing, a new joyous life with a folk art presence.
What were some of your goals as an artist? “I wanted to travel the world and paint the most beautiful things in my vicinity. I was fortunate to paint the wild fields of South Africa and Patagonia the tropical flowers of Brazil and the wildness of the Amazon. I managed not to get malaria in the Amazon even though I didn’t take preventive medical measures. I was also fortunate to paint the majesty of the Hawaiian Islands and Croatia.” What were some of your difficult moments as an artist? When I lived in Rome I ran out of money. This was at a time when I was painting the famous ‘Piazza di Spagna’. When I completed the work a German couple came up to me and were interested to buy the painting, I managed to sell it to them for seven thousand marks. I immediately went to a popular local restaurant and ate everything there. Of course I was sick for the next several days from shall we say over indulging. Women respond to my paintings. I respect the feminine it brings more feeling to the planet”.
The artist is also an accomplished poet and has written close to 15 thousand humorous short stories/quips and over 250 poems. The artist ultimately would like to open an art gallery in Makarska, a place where he spent most of his youth, a place where his journey began as an artist. He has painted numerous works of the Dalmatian coast as can be seen in his studio gallery or his stand by the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue.
“I would like to paint a fresco of Baska Voda and Brela on the way to and from Makarska”. Kreso Niki Cizmic can make several claims about his life including that he has traveled the world and put down on the canvas, the worlds most beautiful places. He can say that his art hangs on many walls in many different countries. But the wisdom of this story and the artist is that for now he has lived according to the dictates of his heart, a life of spiritual intelligence rather than that of a calculating intelligence. According to this fine artist, “life is love toward something.”
Artist and Active Ecological Activist
The above article was written five years ago and I’m happy to report that Kreso Niki Cizmic is holding steadfast to his principles of continued creative implementation and development. He has opened a new chapter in his life, as an active ecological activist, focused on preserving the ecosystem of Southern Croatia, the Dalmatian coast in particular;
“It is tragic and unconscionable that most of our politicians are sellouts to special interests within Croatia and abroad. It this day and age how can anyone propose to build the dirty, toxic, polluting coal burning power plant in Neretva Valley when the progressive trends dictate solar, wind and other forms of reusable energy. Now that the US and others are doing away with coal burning they want to export it to us. Our brainless and corrupt politicians most of whom would sell their own mother at the auction, support such projects. Our relatives have fought and died to protect this land and now special interests want to build oil rigs along the Croatian coast and pollute us out of existence. We don’t need mercury (a byproduct of burning coal) in our sea, land and drinking water. Cemex Corporation, near Split, is treating wood with heavy chemicals so that the wood is preserved for a longer period, a process which produces dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals the human body can ever encounter. If cannot identify with the environment around, you also do not like people. The more vial the person the more disconnected from the essentials of life they become. Croatian singer Meri Cetinic is putting together a grass roots movement that aims to preserve the beauty and cleanliness of Jadran, Oliver Dragojevic is also on board. I’m in contact with her and support her efforts and that of Oliver. I have expressed my views in a poem titled “Black Seagull”. I don’t know about you but I’m not into seeing black seagulls flying around me while I’m walking on black sand. The game is more sinister than we imagine. Think of it this way, an oil spill occurs the people on the coast lose their livelihood from loss of tourism etc. At this point the real-estate drops and it is at this point that the international opportunists come and purchase it for pennies on the dollar. So what do the Croatian people get for an employment opportunity of several hundred people, loss of land and current sources of income? No thanks to this kind of business opportunities”, said the intelligent and heartwarming artist.
You can read Niki’s views/poetry and see his paintings on his face book page (Nicki Cizmic), there you can experience a large body of his work. In excess of three million people have visited and communicate with the progressive artist there.“I always believed that a painting, a song, a poem are more powerful than a 100 tanks. Creative work is not connected to the amount of money you have in a bank account but rather how well you are connected to the eternal spirit, that being God. I believe that I have God’s diploma and that belief satisfies me. If I die tomorrow I have lived my life with heart. If a viewer has shed one passionate tear or a smile when viewing my work I have done my job as an artist. I believe in imagination without borders and reasonable consensus. If you want to evolve as a person first get to know your authentic self, what you believe and why and second disarm the beast within, it’s a process but a very necessary one. This is why I can never participate in building a coal plant along the Dalmatian coast since I know that there are better and more reasonable solutions,” said veteran creative force. Kreso Niki Cizmic is an artist in the rare category where his aim, mission and belief system has not been corrupted by interests that go against the basic principles of health and ecology. Won’t you support this artist by purchasing his work, for he has given of himself to make this world a more wondrous place. You can also call Niki at 212-920-5237.