Folk Art and Inspiration in Rijeka: Artist Jadranka Lacković

In her spare time, which blends rather seamlessly with her working hours, you might find artist, Jadranka Lacković by the seaside sketching, painting or maybe just gathering inspiration from the beauty of this historical city where she grew up, Rijeka.

Officially in the art world since the age of ten, much of Jadranka’s artistic inspiration stems from the multiculturalism of her home city and the diversity of the entire country, Croatia.

A port city, at the beginning of the 20th century Rijeka had a direct line to New York and many immigrants from the Balkans and Eastern Europe passed through on their way to America, bringing their influence with them. Furthering the diverse environment she grew up in with his job in an international shipyard, Jadranka’s father surrounded her with people of different nationalities and religions. This helped her to develop an interest in not just Croatian folk art but folk art from Turkey and the Middle East.

Jadranka with one of her murals

Jadranka with one of her murals

These days, Jadranka continues to draw her inspiration from folk art to create a range of works as part of her ojoMAGico project. Roughly translated from Spanish as an optical illusion, the name has a dual meaning with the capitalized MAG representing a tarot card that supposedly helps you “to become self-aware, to come to peace with your flaws and painful feelings.” For Jadranka, MAG is her associate, helper and sometimes even her alter ego. You can sometimes see her image in her murals, prints and paintings for this project which also includes wooden jewelry, ceramics and cloth bags.

For her latest project, Jadranka is focusing more on Croatian folk art and the carnival tradition of the Kvarner region. Called Novi Karneval or New Carnival, the project puts on contemporary art exhibits, workshops, street art movements, performances, concerts and masquerade parties. The goal of is all is to connect local and foreign artists and engage them in dialogue around traditional and new motifs from folk religions. In the video below, you can see her work on the project.

Due to the freedom and flexibility that her work provides, in the summers Jadranka becomes something of a nomad, traveling to festivals, painting murals, and holding workshops for children. She enjoys the workshops the most because, as she says, “a child’s imagination is boundless.”

If you had to recommend a couple of places to visit in Rijeka, which ones would they be?

I would recommend a lot of places. Rijeka has a long history so I would definitely recommend visiting our National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc where you can see Klimt’s work. Also the medieval fort Trsat is very cool and has an amazing view of the city. There is also the Cathedral, City Clock Tower. The special places would be the hidden gems of the city: the torpedo launch ramp (the torpedo was invented in Rijeka!), the pier Molo Longo (great view of the city from a meditative place), the old Paper Mill Hartera (a small city inside a city).

What do you like best about living in Rijeka?

I think the best thing is that Rijeka is close to everything. It is on the seacoast so you can sunbathe in the summer, but the mountains are just a 20-30 min drive away. It’s also a small city which makes it comfortable to live in because it’s not so busy, but it is close to Ljubljana (Slovenia), Trieste (Italy), Zagreb (Croatia’s capital).

Jadranka at an art exhibition.

Jadranka at an art exhibition.

What else do you want people to know about Rijeka?

I would like to really recommend that visitors go to Art Kino Croatia, a transformed old cinema that plays art movies and has summer shows in the courtyard. Do not leave Rijeka before you have tried seafood in one of the restaurants near the main market (also a jewel) like Fiume, Mornar, Na kantunu, Feral. We also have really good spirits – plum, honey, almond, grape. If you like stronger one I recommend plum and if you like sweeter definitely go for teranino.

What about Croatian folk art, inspires you?

Croatia is really a small country and every part of it has absolutely different folk apparel. Throughout its history Croatia was under different influences so every part has developed differently. You can see the Italian influence along the shore, Turkish influence in the boondocks and German, Hungarian and Austrian influences in Slavonia. It’s an interesting combination.

Eliana Arredondo is the Community Manager for She is a graduate of Stanford University.

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