Duško Šibl: A disciplined bohemian


Getting to know a destination is to see, eat and feel. Introducing you with Dubrovnik / Croatian charm and beauty is on our to do list. However making you sense and FEEL is now mandatory. Passion is the driving force. It’s a life drift. This is only one of many layers of one of the greatest & acknowledged world painters. The Royal College Of Art in London artist, a traveler, a hedonist, Dubrovnik admirer and all things nice. Meet Duško Šibl.

The view from Duško’s studio in Dubrovnik. photo by Emil Fus

Dubrovnik is your home away from home, an atelier, a muse, great inspiration, perhaps even more than that. You can almost touch this etheric cohesion of Duško Šibl and Dubrovnik being. What happened in 1988?
Dubrovnik has been my love and fascination since childhood. I always wanted to have a studio there, ideally in Ploče because of the view of the City and the island of Lokrum. My wish became reality in 1985. when we bought an attic apartment above the hotel Excelsior with the most beautiful view. Until then I was an introspective and private artist, but living in Dubrovnik with this fantastic panorama in front of me every day changed my painting which became more open and colorful, full of life and movement.

Photo by Emil Fus

The first thing you do when you come to Dubrovnik is?
After months in in the gray cities of Europe I find Dubrovnik invigorating and it gives me inspiration and energy to start a new cycle of work.
Every time I’m back to my Dubrovnik studio the first thing I do is open the terrace doors and get the shock of the incredible beauty of the view in font of me. I never get tired of it and it’s never the same – winter or summer, rain or sunshine – the light is amazing and the City walls are enchanting.

A disciplined bohemian, right? You seem to be a very pragmatic person, which is not habitual for the most of creatives. For such reasons, a pragmatic ones, you have started painting at first place, isn’t it so?
Once I said to a journalist that I considered myself A Disciplined Bohemian – and it stuck! Although, it’s a contradiction in terms it’s also very true. I’m a man who enjoys the bars and parties, socializing with my friends, but I always find time for painting and I have a very professional attitude towards my obligations and exhibitions.
We could say the reasons were pragmatic at first. However, in the elementary school I was talented, I even got some kind of International award from Geneva. Funny, but I won! For years I have lost my interest in painting.

sibl dusko sibl atelier go dubrovnik paintings
Photo by Roger Francis

I was more into the theory. Anyhow, in late 70’s I went to London and needed a student visa, so my talent came back to life because of it. I was not fluent enough to study something “serious” so I started to paint. For the purpose of visa, not because of the drive.
After a couple of months of torment it went surprisingly well. I became very ambitious and passionate about it. Subconsciously, all my life I wanted to be a painter, but back in Zagreb I had moments of overwhelming feelings; perhaps an emotional vertigo.

Photo by Emil Fus

When I am standing in front of your canvas, disregarding the format, I feel more than I see. Everything vibrates, it is a mix of colors and the movement in some vacuum zone that pervades your being. In a slow motion, but definitely in motion, it draws you in. As if I am in some magnetic field. Like some sort of metaphysical experience. There is something live about your paintings. I cannot help feeling that there is some music and dance in them. Have I gone bonkers or there is some dance in them?
My mother was a ballet dancer before she married my father. She used to take me to the  the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb to rehearsals. This is the reason why I became fascinated with bodies in movement. That is now the main theme of my work.The viewers often see my paintings as erotic; that’s not really my intention. But because they are so energetic and colorful with bodies moving in time and space, they are easily interpreted as erotic. When I paint I almost go into a trance. Subconscious plays an important part in my work –  Eros and Death are probably always under the surface.