Unfortunately, this article would probably be better titled “Disappearing Belgrade”, as it is certain that Grafički kolektiv (“Graphics collective”), one of the city’s best galleries, will be no more, at least in its current from, from next August.
Instead of its unique wooden interior, designed by Peđa Ristić in 1961, and examples the regions best print art hung on the walls, its premises at Oblićev Venac 27 will house a cake shop, specialising in pancakes.
A cake shop – of which there are hundreds in the city, and at least half a dozen within 500 meter radius from Grafički kolektiv – will replace a gallery which exhibited the likes of Dali, Chagall and all the best Yugoslav artists, and which tried to keep abreast with all the major art developments since its opening in 1949.
The ridiculousness and banality of this cannot be overstated.
All of this came about when the premises of Grafički kolektiv were returned to the pre-WWII owners, who then agreed to sell it to the cake shop owner. In our free market times, it is difficult to blame either of these parties. However, it is sad to see that the city and the state did not see fit to protect Grafički kolektiv before denationalisation, due to its architectural and cultural value, to avoid such consequences.
It is scary to think what other Belgrade institutions may be heading for the chop this way, especially after the city centre lost most of its cinemas ten years ago due to a botched privatisation of Beograd Film. It is possible that a similar fate might befall Srpska kafana in Svetogorska, which is currently closed due to restitution, and whose unique interior and colourful history may be lost to future generations.
Grafički kolektiv is still open and is looking for alternative premised, but none are secured. Thus I urge you to visit the gallery and check out its interior and collection before it is lost for good. They also sell fantastic and affordable prints which make truly unique (non-tacky) souvenirs and presents.