Acclaimed Bosnian artist
The extraordinary Bosnian artist Mersad Berber whose paintings reflecting the crimes of the Balkan won acclaim internationally. His international recognition chiefly as a graphic artist won a Gold Medal at the First International Exhibition of Graphic Arts in Trieste in 1971, the Grand Prix at the 4th International Biennale of Engraving in Florence in 1974 and an honorary prize at the 10th International Biennale of Engraving in Tokyo in 1976.
The civil wars that broke in Yugoslavia in 1991 destroyed Berber's house and studio and he with his family escaped to Croatia and rebuilt his life in Zagreb. Memories of the conflict, however, continued to haunt him, and provided material for his art.
A lasting preoccupation during the final years of Berber's life was the brutal massacre at Srebrenica, the worst crime of the Balkan wars, in which 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) mostly men and boys were slaughtered by the units from the Army of Republika Srpska, while 400 Dutch soldiers stood politely aside in July 1995.
Berber's success led him to hold exhibitions in London, Hamburg, Istanbul, Chicago, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Madrid, Zurich and New York. The last substantial showing was a large retrospective, covering his whole career, held in 2009 in Barcelona. His grips with history of the region he lived in and with his own personal relationship to that history is remarkable.
Mersad Berber was born in the Bosnian township of Bosanka Petrovac a part of former Yugoslavia. In 1959 he began his formal art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, graduating with a B.A. then M.A. In 1978 he began to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, and set up a spacious studio there.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan