Kastav is a small medieval town on a very high spot in the hills overlooking Kvarner Bay between Opatija and Rijeka. If you visit Kastav you´ll probably feel like you´ve come into antother time. Kastav is a mediterranean town, but somehow – different. It might be because of lots of forrests surrounding it and because it is situated so high. There is a legend about Kastav; in the year 1666 its inhabitants organized in a battle with a guy who wanted to collect from them 10% tax on agricultural products, they drowned him in the puddle in the middle of the town wich served for water supply. When they were occused and judged for murder, they stood all togheter and said: Yes, we did it! We all togheter killed this devil.”
Another legend talks about witches and if you climb to the fortress of Kastav you´ll find there a place where the last european witch was executed.
Kastav today has kept some kind of a fairytale atmosphere. Not coincidentally, many artists found in Kastav their inspiration and have their ateliers there. During the day Kastav is sleepy, at least in the summertime. There are some cafés arround the Lokvina sqare, but in the comparison with other mediterranean towns, Kastav ist simply quiet and meditative. The air here is fresher and pleasant.
In Kastav you´ll find many interesting galleries aswell open air cinema and festivals in the summer. “Kastafsko kulturno leto” meaning “Kastav cultural summer” offers different events mostly during July and August. Kastav awakens in the early evenings with music and performances.
If you are lucky enough and the gallery is open, you can enter the art world of Saša Jantolek. His work is colourfull, poetic, storytelling and inventive. For his artworks Saša is using old pieces of wood, often finding them on the shores of Lungo Mare, a 12 km long coastal path connecting pitoresque places from Volosko to Lovran. His artworks rapresents the connection between sculpture and painting, his figures and figurines go out of a picture frame, they love and argue, they are sad and joyfull, but everybody can read completely another story out of his artwork and find him or herself in it.
One of the most interesting thing about Saša is that he worked for 14 years as a postman in the touristic town of Opatija. But there was always something in him what was surely not a postman. For him, the expression in art is essential for living. He could not be happy without art anymore, so he quitted his job in the post office and decided to do only art. It was not important if he is going to succeed, most important was to do what he really wanted and what really made him alive again.
It happens seldom that you don´t succeed when you deep inside simply know that you are on a right path. Perhaps there is a struggle in the beginning, but you have to keep on. Saša didn´t even go to the Academy like most of the croatian painters or artists, he is an autodidact with talent and most of all – fun of expression and fun in the creativity process. His decision and trust in his own inner call, brought him step by step to the top of the croatian art makers.
So entering the old town of Kastav, go left and find poetry, magic and colour!
Find more about Saša and his work here: jantolek.com