Exhibit explores work of Zeljko Kujundzic

Zaljko Kujundzic paints while students look on, circa 1959. - Courtesy of Touchstones Nelson
Zaljko Kujundzic paints while students look on, circa 1959.
— image credit: Courtesy of Touchstones Nelson

Submitted to the Star

Touchstones Nelson is taking visitors on a flashback to the 1960s with the new exhibit Zeljko Kujundzic and the Early Years of the Kootenay School of the Arts.

Kujundzic, a fifth generation artist from the former Yugoslavia, was hired in 1960 as the first principal of the newly formed Nelson School of Fine Arts’ three-year diploma program.

An internationally acclaimed artist in his time, Kujundzic drew students to Nelson from across Canada and the US.

His rigorous European “studio method” of instruction emphasized the use of local materials and trained multi-disciplined artists.

The study of literature and philosophy were also included to enrich cultural depth.

Although Kujundzic was only at the school for four years, his influence marked the beginnings not only of KSA, but perhaps also of Nelson’s re-invention as the Best Little Arts Town in Canada.

The bold lines and iconic imagery in Kujundzic’s work reflect his Eastern European background, as well as the aesthetics of the times.

His artistic practice included ceramic sculpture, painting, printmaking, metalwork, jewelry and numerous public are commissions, all of which will be featured.

The exhibition also traces the tenacious and tumultuous evolution of KSA through a collection of rare archival photographs and original course calendars.

Explore Kujundzic’s diverse artistic practices and the history of the iconic Kootenay School of the Arts (now Kootenay Studio Arts at Selkirk College) through this unique exhibition.

It opens on Friday in Gallery A from 7 to 9 p.m., with a members’ preview at 6:30 p.m. Touchstones Nelson is at 502 Vernon Street.

Kujundzic’s family members will be in attendance, and artwork by three of his daughters will be featured in the lobby.


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