Tomo Vukas is an artist who lives in Rijeka and shares his inner worlds, inspired by his surroundings, with us through painting, drawing, woodwork, sculpture and more.
RIYP: You create and express yourself using several techniques. Do you have a favourite one and which one did you use first?
Tomo: I started painting while I was working as a sailor. On board the ship I had time to myself so I started drawing more seriously and developing my drawing skills. Over the next few years exhibitions followed in Monte Carlo, Arles, Lyon and more… The pencil is still one of my favourite media, tools and means of expression, and even though it takes a lot of time and effort drawing is still rated rather low on the artistic scale.
RIYP: The motifs in your work are most often the sea and marine themes, has that always been the case? And how did that come to be?
Tomo: Marine motifs, or to be more precise sailors, are my most recent creative phase which has lasted for some time now. I feel very comfortable with this, even safe. I set myself some rules and a framework, and that makes me very happy. In my pictures about the sea and sailors everything which is important in art is condensed: drawing – understanding what you are seeing; colours – creating a sense of relaxation, lightness and cheer; technique – or handwriting, of me as the artist. All of that creates a short story which observers can recognize easily but interpret in their own way. I call my sailors the Bringers of Happiness because they arouse good feelings and tease out a smile on your face. The sailor is the personification of the world around me and within me, it is my past woven with the everyday and coloured with the scent of the sea.
RIYP: Do you have a favourite exhibition space in Rijeka where your works fit most comfortably?
Tomo: I have a place in Opatija near Rijeka where my pictures feel great because they sit among works by other local painters and artists. The place of inspiration is in my head. It really isn’t a problem for me to think up an idea and create a picture, it is just a matter of time and the ideas keep flowing. When I create something with my hands, I paint, I work with wood, sculpture, reliefs, pieces of furniture, various practical implements, jewellery or whatever, then the creativity flourishes. It is a way of life, it is coloured air which I breathe in in great lungfuls.
RIYP: Is there a place in Rijeka which particularly inspires you, where you go to gather and renew your energy?
Tomo: Rijeka is my home town, I know its every stone, and since I enjoy spearfishing I also know the entire coast around Rijeka. Could anyone need more for inspiration?
RIYP: And where do you go outside the city when you need a break?
Tomo: One of my favourite places where I feel at home is definitely Rovinj, a town on the Istrian coast where, together with my wife and dog I spend as much time as possible.
RIYP: What would you say a tourist must try or take home as a souvenir?
Tomo: The thing we really stand out for is our food, but it must be the authentic stuff, home cooking like our grandmothers and mothers make. What to take with you? First of all the great feeling of time well spent in Croatia. Our country is full of history but we still do not respect that enough and present it very poorly, while we know that only a well-told story sells a product. My recommendation for tourists: explore, in Croatia there are great artists who make super souvenirs and which are not imported from China…
RIYP: Is it possible to buy your work somewhere in Rijeka? If so, where and how?
Tomo: Even though you can see my works in public spaces I am also active in the virtual world. I have a web site, I keep up with what’s new and keep in touch with people on social networks. I think however that personal contact is the best way to promote and sell… In my works I tell stories and anyone with an imagination opens the doors to my worlds. Painting is just one small part of what I create and what makes me who I am.