The city of Karlovac has come alive with the installation of the latest in a string of colourful new murals. This latest mural, by artist Leonard Lesić, can be seen on the side of the city's Hrvatski dom building. It marks the start of a bold new redesign and repurposing of the formerly neglected building.
The artwork was commissioned via competition by KAoperativa Alliance, a network of NGOs from Karlovac who are collaborating to renovate the building. Originally built in 1926 and a centre for arts, recreation, culture and community. It now requires some work intended to return the building to its original purpose.
Around 20 artists submitted designs for the wall, with the jury choosing one by Leonard Lesić, who is from nearby Duga Resa, as the winner. His mural measures 28 metres by 4 metres. The mural sits above an open space which is about to undergo landscaping which will turn it into an urban park. In warmer months, the park will be used for exhibitions, workshops, performances and community activities.
'I chose to make the mural using bright colours, so they would contrast with the surroundings,' artist Leonard Lesić told Time Out Croatia. 'There's quite a lot of greenery and nature near the building. Also because the park is intended to be used by all ages, including young people. The design is made up of elements that are recognisable to all Karlovac residents – the city's star, the nature and the rivers.'
This is not Leonard's only work in the area. Last summer he painted a much-loved mural of Miroslav Krleža on the Karlovac street which holds the famous writer's name. It was painted to mark Krleža's birthday. More of Lesić's work can be seen in the Karlovac suburbs of Rekovec, where he recently painted a triptych in a residential area, in Ozalj, in Turanj and also in his home village of Duga Resa. In 2019 he was invited to paint a large mural on a school in London. Some of his other large murals are in Vodnjan in Istria, and at the Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in Smiljan, Lika.
The scheme to revitalise Hrvatski dom Karlovac is a joint project between KAoperativa and the City of Karlovac. The total value of the project is almost two million kuna, with 85% of funds being provided by the European Union' European Social Fund. The project is planned to be completed by November 2020.