Balkans-born sculptor Drago Marin Cherina is inspired by
yin and yang to create abstract wooden sculpture
pairs. He calls them "Onona" from the southern Slavonic words on
With eyes, we can see, with hands, we can touch. But with
imagination, we can see and touch anything whether it exists or
not. Art is the guide to the imagination.
Balkans-born Drago Marin Cherina, now a well-known Australian
sculptor, will share his world of the imagination through a free
one-year educational exhibition of his "Onona" - around 200 wooden
sculptures - at Shanghai's JenSen Museum.
At the opening next Wednesday, Cherina will be available to talk
with visitors about his work.
The sculptures in pairs are in abstract shapes about the size of
the pair. Cherina says the concept of "Onona," a combination of on
and ona, is like that of yin and yang but taken from the language
of the ancient Balkans.
Cherina, who comes from Croatia, has created more than 50
psychological portraits in sculpture of figures such as Picasso,
Henry Moore and Dali. He used to work as Moore's assistant at
Moore's estate residence, studio and special sculpture park in Much
Haddam, England. This is where Cherina first created his "Onona"
Cherina considers himself fortunate as an artist to have been
exposed to two great cultures when he was young - Italian and
He was born in Kocula, a small island in the north of Croatia on
the Venetian Dalmation coast. Some historians say Marco Polo was
born there, though his birthplace is generally believed to be
"It was Marco Polo who brought glorious Chinese culture home,"
says Cherina. "You'll find that Croatia used to be ruled by the
Roman Empire for hundreds of years. Italian culture took root
there. Both the two cultures have great influence on me."
The "Onona" sculptures, according to Cherina, are inspired by
the traditional Chinese philosophy of yin and yang, the twin
origins of the universe, with contrary/complementary
characteristics. The "Onona" sculptures are also in pairs, on
meaning "he" and ona meaning "she" in the language of the southern
Balkans, says Cherina who compares them with yin and yang.
Many of the original wood sculptures have been enlarged and cast
in bronze. The "Onona" sculptures also make us think of past and
future, the balance between man and nature and they carry a warning
about environmental destruction.
"I hope that my works can help people open their minds and see
things differently with their imagination," says Cherina. "You have
to pay nothing for it, but your smile."
Date: October 17, 3:30pm (opening); October 17, 2007-October 17,
Venue: JenSen Museum, 1568 Huqingping Highway, Qingpu
(Shanghai Daily October 12, 2007)