The Austrian artist Uschi Payer-Deutschmann and her partner Werner Enzinger have been visiting the island of Lošinj for the last 37 years, during which period they have always been guests at the Hotel Vespera. We used this as an opportunity to talk to them about the arts and their long-lasting love for Lošinj.
Can you please briefly introduce yourselves for our readers?
Uschi: I come from Graz and managed an international art gallery for 30 years, after which I decided to dedicate myself to my own art – you could say that I changed sides. In 1986, I opened my own gallery in Leoben and started organising exhibitions at home and abroad. In 2006, I started an Istrian artists’ symposium in Labin with the support of Dr Brix, the EU representative for Austrian artists abroad. I worked together with many artists from all parts of the world. It was a wonderful experience, but today my own things have priority.
What’s your relationship with the arts?
Uschi: I grew up with the arts. In my parents’ house, artists were frequent guests. After a short time studying medicine, I decided to commit myself entirely to the arts.
Why Lošinj? What makes this island so special for you?
Uschi: I can hardly express my affinity for the island in words; I just feel at home there. Lošinj is for me the place where I feel good and where I long to be. No matter how tired or stressed out I am, the moment I get to the island all my problems simply disappear.
You use the red Lošinj soil as a material for your paintings? How did that start?
Uschi: Once I was sitting and playing with the earth. Then I got the idea that I could use the red soil for painting. We took lots of this earth back to Austria. I then used it for painting and mixed it with other pigments. First, I painted only stones in an abstract form, and then I allowed my personal sensitivities to create images too. In my pictures, I cover everything: mood, emotions, places and sensations.
Where do most of your pictures come into being?
Uschi: My pictures are formed in the head, even when I stare at the sea for eight hours and do nothing. They emerge through thoughts, scents, cloud formations, sea currents or fantasy. I just need to position myself, focus and bring the images onto the canvass.
Who or what is your muse?
Uschi: The muse is for me always something or somebody who touches me emotionally. It can be a person, a scent, the water or a conversation.
Do you paint on the island, and if so where?
Uschi: Yes, among the rocks. I take everything with me and paint. I don’t have any special place on the island. I just need peace, the scent, and the murmur of the sea in the background.
Do you know how many paintings you’ve created so far?
Uschi: No I don’t! I started painting as a child, and would never have shown any of my work to the public if a fellow artist from Italy hadn’t encouraged me to do so for my first exhibition in May 2013.
How did you end up on Lošinj?
Uschi: I went to a friend who worked in a travel agency and I told him: “I want to go on holiday for a week in Croatia, and it needs to be the quietest of places!” He replied: “Ok. No problem, but don’t come back complaining that it was too quiet!” This is how I came to the Hotel Vespera. It was totally quiet. I somehow got ‘infected’ with the ‘Lošinj virus’ and never got rid of it. Werner: Lošinj has a special charm and simply does us good. Here, you can smell a special scent, especially after it rains..
How long have you been visiting Lošinj?
Uschi: I’ve been coming here for the last 37 years and my husband Werner for the last 30. We always come in June and September. We stay on average five and a half weeks, always at the Hotel Vespera, and almost always in the same room. Werner: The hotel is optimal for us because it’s close to the beach and everything is accessible on foot.
Do you have some tips for future guests of the island?
Uschi & Werner: If you’re looking for peace and rest from the stress of everyday life, Lošinj is the perfect place for you. It’s called the ‘Island of Vitality’ with good reason, and is ideal for people with respiratory problems. Our tips for future guests would be: make sure you have enough time for your journey, go out of the hotel, explore the area, visit small villages in the surroundings, enjoy long walks on the promenades and hiking trails, do some sport (mountain biking, diving, sailing, tennis, jogging), and simply discover the island in your own way.
My life without art would be … worthless!
My art for me is …. the most important thing and well worth seeing.
Lošinj is for us …. the place where we feel good and where we long to be.
A hotel guest should ….feel welcome and valued.
Visitors to Lošinj Museum can view Mrs. Payer-Deutschmann’s paintings and other objects until 8 October.