One Artist and One Motif: Julije Knifer and His Meander

Julije Knifer, 9.II – 31.III 83, 1983, graphite on paper. Exhibition catalog: Julije Knifer: Uncompromising – a retrospective, 2018, p. 195. Photo by Boris Cvjetanović.

When we think of a meander we usually think of a winding riverbed of the Meander River in Asia Minor or an ancient decoration of broken lines that is repeated in an uninterrupted sequence. But, for one man meander wasn’t a geographical term nor decoration, ornament, or aesthetics. It had a completely different meaning. In this article, you will find out about an artist who has devoted his entire life to this one motif. His name is Julije Knifer, a Croatian painter, who lived and worked in Croatia, Germany, and France and exhibited in many cities around the world.

Meander: monotonous, unoriginal, meaningless through its endless repetition and yet used in various cultures as a decorative motif. Beginning with the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods and continuing in many early civilizations, including Mayan, Etruscan, Egyptian, Byzantine, and ancient Chinese, as well as in Greek and Roman art, meander was a common decorative element. It has been applied in architecture, and on various items such as pottery and clothing. Greek vases, mainly during the geometric period, were perhaps the main reason for the broad use of meanders. Today meander is often replicated in fashion, jewelry, interior design, and architecture.

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