It was months ago that Gavra Koljesar, a former journalist from Novi Sad, Serbia, shared with me the works and the biography of his cousin, a Rusyn photojournalist, a documentary and a fine art photographer, Vladimir Dado Koljesar.
Koljesar was born in Novi Sad and lived in Ruski Kerestur his whole life. As a member of a club Druztvo, he supported the Rusyn language, culture and literature. He had five joint and seven solo exhibitions.
Vladimir was tightly connected to Kerestur, one of the oldest Rusyn towns. Gavra Koljesar writes: “Through his lens and on the film are captured the moments when Kerestur was happy and celebrating, but also when it was sad and crying.” No subject matter was too ordinary for him: plowing the field, fishing, Easter, school events, weddings, views of the nature… Koljesar was looking for poetry in the scenes around him, for simple, accessible, but innately beautiful rhymes that could be read and understood by everybody.
I think that Gavra is right to suggest that it was the two landmarks of Kerestur (the church and the castle, and their Rusyn-ness), which the artist saw growing up so readily from his house that unconsciously shaped his close relationship with the town. Being confronted with powerful testaments to faith, continuity and community reminds one about things that are larger than the self and towards those Koljesar was turning his lens.