2021 Tributes to the Late, Great, Tamara Djurovic, aka Hyuro
Argentinian artist Tamara Djurovic, a.k.a. Hyuro passed away on November 19th, 2020. Exactly one year ago. Since then, multiple interventions and actions have taken place to celebrate the incredible human, artist, and friend she was.
It started with Poliniza Dos; the festival takes place each year at the Universitat Politècnica of Valencia (Spain), a city by the sea where Tamara moved after leaving Argentina in her twenties. She and her friend Escif studied there and painted on the University's grounds during past editions of the festival. For this 11th edition dedicated to Hyuro, Luis Canales, head of the Fine Arts Department and the artist's former professor, invited some of her closest friends: Axel Void, Daniel Muñoz SAN, Ekta, Escif, Ever, Franco Fasoli JAZ, Mohamed L'Ghacham, and Sam 3, to intervene on campus. And a very moving exhibition of Hyuro's work titled "Proceso a traves el espejo - Polinizados x Hyuro" (Process through the Mirror) presented numerous drawings, watercolours and oils, as well as photographs of her.
Poliniza Dos was a poignant moment for the artists involved. Due to the Covid pandemic, this was their first encounter since Hyuro's passing. Swedish artist Ekta felt it "necessary to go to Valencia to be able to begin to understand that she had moved on. It was really good to spend time with artists that knew Tamara, share stories and memories. It was emotional, and her presence is very strong there. Even the architecture and colours of the city reminded me of her work. We need her eyes on this world and her voice on the state of things."
Argentianian artist Nicolás Romero, a.k.a Ever, also felt deeply connected: "Before I arrived, I was very nervous because I didn't understand at first. When I painted the mural, it was like talking to her. I laughed, I remembered, I cried, I was surprised. I felt her on the trip on the way to Valencia; there were giant clouds, but in the middle, there was a rainbow, I felt it was her, and from that moment on, I knew that everything was fine."
Escif also decided to lead with some of Tamara’s friends, a series of interventions dedicated to Hyuro. In Tamara's words, he had been one of her closest friends and her mentor. He was the one who made her discover the walls, which became the passion of her life; the one who pushed her when she thought, in her humble way, that she was not good enough of a painter; the one with whom she was interacting about new projects until the end.
He told us that his motivation to get involved in tributes to Hyuro first stemmed from a personal standpoint: "When Tamara became ill, I was lucky enough to be able to accompany her and share a lot of moments with her. We had talks, conversations about life, her illness, death. We also talked a lot about her work. At the time, she had multiple projects postponed due to her illness, and she was looking forward to finishing them. So, I wanted to bring these projects she was very excited about to completion. These were two murals, both located in France (Angers and Paris). Helen Bur and Faith XLVII painted the first one, and I painted the second with Axel Void".
Bur and Faith XLVII created diptych murals from Hyuro's original sketches. It was named "Douce Vie" (Sweet life). The British and South African artists called this their last dance to their friend and they painted murals that in a style that was impressively resemblant to Hyuro's, as if they had wished to erase themselves from the artwork to reveal only Hyuro's intent.
As for Paris, Hyuro had already selected the wall and made the first sketches. Until the end, she thought she'd be able to paint this mural and had planned to find the best possible assistant, as she was conscious of her physical weakness at the time. Axel Void remembers: "for us, the interesting part was that she asked Escif and I, individually, to assist her in painting this mural. I think this is quite beautiful and poetic that we ended up doing it without her, although I still very much feel like I was an assistant."
From a technical point of view, Void adds: "There are a lot of executive decisions that she couldn't take, of course, and in that sense, we had to speculate on what we thought she would prefer. Generally, she would never paint the sketch exactly, so we thought it would be better to make some interpretation of what she would do. There is also a margin of difference within how she and we paint. And there is another margin within how Escif and I paint. The most important was to conceptualize it as her piece, keeping in mind that it always was for the service of the idea. We did what we thought was best for the idea while our margin of interpretation would be our homage and a tribute to her".
One year after her passing, the time to keep Hyuro's work alive is now.
Escif is still very much involved and is pursuing some of Hyuro's last projects more ambitiously as, to him: "She is possibly one of the painters who has managed to create the most symbolic murals with the greatest repercussion during the last ten years".
He feels that beyond his relation with Tamara, his will to be involved in the legacy of Hyuro is also a political act powered by his admiration and respect for the work she created. "I fully trust the value of her work. I fully trust that what Hyuro as an artist has contributed to the world of mural painting and society and culture is infinitely greater than what she could have contributed to me as a person".
Tamara and he had started to talk about a book project which she was very excited about, and for which there was a selection of images. They had had meetings about it, contemplating the format and the texts that would be written. Today Escif thinks "it is essential that there should be a book that compiles her works so that in thirty years what Hyuro managed to contribute to the world in her career will be known in some way. I think this recognition is completely justified and necessary."
The last project that Hyuro was working on that Escif wishes to complete is an exhibition that she was supposed to show in Italy. However, he says: "We are now thinking that the occasion is worth trying to exhibit the works in a museum and make it bigger than what she had in mind. It would also be a tribute to her work".
Our friend Tamara will never be forgotten; but as Escif illustrates, now is the time to ensure Hyuro’s legacy continues. Crafting new and interesting opportunities, showcases, and displays to enlighten younger and wider audiences, inspiring awareness and action alike for the critical subjects her work addressed.
Text by Aruallan