Milivoj Ljubinković: I Have a Feeling that Notre Dame Always Surpasses Me

For centuries, Notre Dame Cathedral has been one of the largest buildings in Western civilization. Passers-by stood in front of it fascinated, and it has always been an inspiration to artists. That is how the painter Milivoj Ljubinković was inspired by this magnificent building, thus he decided to sail into its endless beauty.

During eight years, he has drawn over a hundred drawings of Notre Dame Cathedral, and some of them the audience will be able to see at the ‘Notre Dame – Urban Landscape’ exhibition, which will opened in Svilara Cultural Station on 15 April at 6 p.m., on the second anniversary of the huge fire that caught the Paris Cathedral. The exhibition lasts until 10 May.

As he says, Notre Dame became a subject of his interest many years ago, therefore, he asked himself the question: What else can a man who deals with fine arts do than to draw and paint?

Jagoda Buić, a friend of mine, has an apartment on the island of Saint-Louis, with a balcony overlooking the back of Notre Dame, and I set myself on her balcony, took out a sketchbook and modest tools, a tube of gouache, a couple of charcoal drawing pastels, a couple of brushes and those were my tools with which I tried to put the Notre Dame experience on paper. It is about eight years of more or less continuous work. I think I have somewhere over a hundred works related to Notre Dame, and not only to Notre Dame, since from that balcony you can see the Pantheon, the Sorbonne, Saint Genevieve, you can see the immediate surroundings,’ says Ljubinković.

Observing the cathedral over time, it no longer represented an object for him. It became a subject.

You experience it as an unreal object made of stone lace. It emerges from the perception of the real with those fingers holding the roof structure, holding the complete ship, with all these details, and enters into an experience of the almost surreal, especially at night. I don’t think I have felt the real experience of Notre Dame yet. It’s just that it’s always slipping away from me. When I take a crayon, when I take coal, when I take a brush and start working, I always have the feeling that it surpasses me,’ says the artist.

MIlivoj Ljubinković - Notr Dam

The ’Notre Dame – Urban Landscape’ was shown online last year, also on 15 April, on the anniversary of the great fire. On the evening of 15 April 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral was caught on fire that destroyed the wooden roof and much of its interior. It was later confirmed that nothing renewable had been destroyed. Milivoj Ljubinković’s works were created before this fire.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the cathedral has been visited annually by about 14 million tourists and pilgrims, making it one of the most visited buildings in all of Europe. The exhibition is being implemented in the organization of the Novi Sad 2022 – European Capital of Culture project and Novi Sad branch of the French Institute in Serbia, which is celebrating its 70th birthday this year. Photographs and short films about the works on the reconstruction of the cathedral will be shown as an accompanying programme of the exhibition, which for this occasion is provided by the Public Company for the Restoration and Reconstruction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame from Paris.