The Bridge over the Drina River

“THE BRIDGE OVER THE DRINA RIVER” is part of the “Windows, Doors and Bridges” cycle. It was created during the first lockdown in France in the spring of 2020. It contains two of the components of this cycle – a window and a bridge.

The Window is an architectural element with a symbolic meaning in art usually associated with the intermediation between interior and exterior. It is a means of observation, inadvertent voyeurism, communication, liberation, hope, opportunities or escapism. Although life indoors is limited by walls, it is enough to open a window and look outside. Thus, we observe and discover the outside world, nature and the unknown horizons. We strengthen our sense of community and belonging. The air and light passing through bring us hope and lift our spirit.

The Bridge is an element that connects two sides or shores or two realms. It can be actual or abstract. By crossing over a bridge one overcomes an obstacle, be it concrete as a river or a gorge, or a more abstract one. Thus, it represents also transition or a voyage. Every bridge has its story.

The writer who wrote the wonderful essay “Bridges” is Ivo Andrich, a Yugoslav novelist, poet and short story writer who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1961. This painting is the result of reading four of his novels in order to arrive at the idea for it: “The Bridge on the Drina”, “Bridges”, “Oluyachani” and “Hard year”.

The painting combines the following elements: the window, the bridge, the river, the high mountains and the walnuts. All of them carry a certain symbol.

  • The bridge is black because it is a symbol of overcoming an obstacle. Ivo Andrich writes in the essay “Bridges”: “…They are all essentially one, they are equally worthy of our attention, because they show the place where humankind encountered an obstacle and did not stop before it, but overcame and bridged it the way humankind could, according to understanding, taste, and circumstances…” He goes on “In the end all that our life is expressed through – thoughts, efforts, gazes, smiles, words, sighs – all of it strives towards the other shore to which it is directed as if towards an aim and where, once reached, it receives its true meaning. All of this has to be overcome and to pass through an obstacle of some sort: chaos, death or meaninglessness. All of this represents passage , a bridge whose ends are lost in the endlessness and in comparison to it all earthly bridges are mere children’s toys, pale symbols. All of our hope lies beyond.”
  • The obstacle in fact is the river. It is, however, also a symbol of life, filled with storms, through which we have to make our way crossing over bridges.
  • The high mountains are the keepers and protectors of the secrets of the people inhabiting them.
  • In the Balkans, the walnuts are symbol of fertility and abundance, but also of strong-willed power and toughness, stability, durability, firmness and resistance.

The story of this painting is about one’s determination to use his or her will to overcome the difficulties they are faced with.