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Damir Vrdoljak Mandeta at Martinis Marchi

Every person has their own definition of hedonism, but we could all agree it implies indulging in some of the finer things in life: food, wine, art, and other various delights.

Now imagine all of those united in a single gorgeous setting – wouldn't that make for a perfect evening? Every pleasant experience becomes more memorable when combined with enchanting ambiance and a handful of like-minded bons vivants, so instead of imagining, it's best to venture out and seek opportunities to enjoy everything life has to offer. The Adriatic is a treasure trove of hedonistic oases scattered all over the coast and the islands, and you'll have plenty of chances to spend your summer evenings immersed in an amazing atmosphere, delving into gourmet wonders and appreciating the local art and culture in company of other guests.

The best example of this was the recent opening of the exhibition of Damir Vrdeljak Mandeta in the Heritage Hotel Martinis Marchi. Located in Maslinica on the island of Šolta, the luxurious hotel has a home in a gorgeous historic castle, its tranquil ambiance providing a perfect setting for a display of charming maritime-themed sculptures.

A prolific artist, writer and sailor, Mandeta blends together his passions seamlessly. His sculptures are made out of two most rudimentary materials – metal and wood, merged together in shapes that evoke images of ships preparing to sail away toward the open sea. They are solid, straightforward and humble, and yet they have a certain finesse to them, a form that escapes narrow defining and allows the viewer to create his own associations.

As Mandeta uses parts of old, run-down boats to make his sculptures, he's literally making it possible for them to live forever. He searches for material on beaches and bays, looks for inspiration in little local ports. He once stated that the magic of creating art continues to exist even after the pieces are finished, as his thoughts always keep searching for a new path, a new colour or a new form. "Nature provides an eternal lesson on how to make other people happy, as beauty surrounds us all. Sometimes it's necessary to scratch under that invisible glow to let the beauty come out to the surface. I see a piece of wood or metal, and I instantly know what the finished sculpture is going to look like", the artist said.

The title of the exhibition, Refuli, means gusts of wind in Croatian. It'd be hard to come up with a better name for the array of darling sculpted boats and ships, whose imaginary sails wait to be filled with fresh breaths of Adriatic air. Before they gently glide away, the sculptures will spend the summer safely moored at Martinis Marchi as part of their seasonal art programme – if you missed the opening night, there's still time to go see the lovely exhibition.

The authentic atmosphere of the historic castle overlooking the marina perfectly pairs with maritime motives that are currently embellishing the halls. If someone asked you what boats make you think of, one of the first things to come to mind might be freedom, a desire underlying all our travels and adventures. That's what we all strive for when we manage to get away from work and other everyday troubles in order to spend a couple of weeks on the coast – a liberating, all-encompassing sense of freedom. There's no better way to express that than through art, and there's no better opportunity to enjoy such an experience than resting your eyes on Mandeta's work. Martinis Marchi awaits.

By: Nikolina Demark