VINKO ŠAINA was born in Pula in 1953.
His art career started at the beginning of the 1970s, when he had his first solo and group exhibitions. After graduating from Split’s School of Applied Arts and its Department of Graphics, he returned to Labin, where, after a while, like most local artists, he opened a workshop in the old town of Labin, which marked the beginning of the period of both his intense artistic production and a rich social life. Since 1971 he has had more than fifty solo and almost two hundred group, juried and selected, exhibitions in Croatia and abroad. He has represented Croatia’s contemporary art scene in Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, Austria, France and the United States.
The productive 1980s were marked by the cycle entitled Tišina prostora I, II i III (The Silence of the Space I, II and III) and by various exhibitions and awards. What followed in the 1990s is a series of paintings inspired by the war in Croatia, as well as the artist’s participation in numerous exhibitions, auctions and charity events. At the beginning of the new millennium he presented the cycle of poetic representations Levitacija, nostalgija i beskraj (Levitation, Nostalgia and Infinity), which was followed by the cycle Pjene (Foam) in 2003 and by an attractive multimedia art project entitled Privremeni transport morske pjene i valova do Labina i natrag (A Temporary Transfer of the Sea Foam and Waves to Labin and Back). However, among all the techniques explored in his career his first choice remain both mixed media art, on the improvement of which he had been working for years, and abstract (almost astral, but familiar) landscape painting, which represents his recognisable and impressive artistic signature.
He participated in a dozen of art colonies in Croatia and abroad. He is a member of Istria’s and Zagreb’s branches of the Croatian Association of Artists. He made a significant contribution to his field of work also as the president of the Croatian Association of Artists. It was between 1996 and 1999, when ambitious projects were carried out and some important catalogues, very representative of the Association, were printed. He acquired the status of a freelance artist in 1997, when he became a member of the Croatian Freelance Artists’ Association, and kept it until his retirement in 2006.
His works are part of many museums and art galleries as well as private art collections in Croatia and abroad. He has received many awards for his work.
In 2009 the Croatian National Television produced the documentary film about the artist entitled Sliko-slikopisi Šaina (Paintings-motion pictures – Šaina). For their documentaries of the same series, the authors, Maja Gregl and Tahir Mujčić, had chosen artists who illustrated the world around us with their extraordinary lives and through their peculiar styles, while the director Mladen Ćapin and the cameraman Siniša Galar, thanks to their sensitivity and experience, brought to the small screen a heart-warming story about an artist who dedicated his life to art and people.
Vinko Šaina – the Painter of Light
The monograph on Vinko Šaina’s fruitful artistic career, written by Berislav Valušek PhD and Professor Roberto Tessari, was presented in September 2017, together with a monographic exhibition held at Labin’s town museum, Labin Town Gallery, Alvona Gallery and Negri Gallery.
The lack of exhibition spaces and, above all, the impossibility of presenting the works created by young, unrecognised artists, induced him to start organising exhibitions in 1986, while in 1993 he founded the Alvona Gallery in the renovated and revitalised cultural monument of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, thus initiating his intense activities as a gallerist and an art manager, remaining in charge of the same art gallery until nowadays. He is one of the founders of both the Croatian Association of Gallerists and the Artexchange gallerists’ association.
Always striving to stay up to date with the most recent artistic production in Croatia and abroad, in cooperation with the most renowned art historians and art critics, so far the Alvona Gallery, run by him, has organised more than 120 solo and about thirty group exhibitions. Moreover, one portfolio of prints was published, as well as two other monographs, dedicated to the work of Karlo Paliska and Quintino Bassani, in addition to the one concerning his own work.