Meneghetti Sculpture Garden

Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Winery announced the opening of its new sculpture garden with a series of monumental sculptures by Belgian contemporary artist Arne Quinze
Photo: Matej Paluh

We spoke with Mr. Reiner Opoku, Berlin-based art consultant and a founding director of the St. Moritz Art Masters in Switzerland and co-founder of the NYC-based environmental organization Parley for the Oceans, who bring Mr. Quinze’s work to Bale in Istria, Croatia, as well as Arne Quinze, the artist himself.

Mr Opoku, we are now in your house in Fažana in Croatia, your father is from Ghana, mother from Germany, spouse Sabina from Tutin in Serbia. Please, explain to our readers the story of your life.

Mr Reiner Opoku: I was born and grew up in Cologne, the epicentre of modern art in Europe at that time. When I was 18, I opened my first cafe, where many artists later met. This world has magically attracted me. In the early 80s, I was lucky enough to meet some of the most influential artists of our time, such as Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat, and that influenced me significantly. I realized I could understand what artists want to say with their work, and they often need someone to channel it to the rest of the world. So, I created a new job profile for myself as an art and culture mediator. I am involved in all kinds of cultural-driven activities as a manager of artists, project development, art trade, publishing, and many other fields of the creative industry.

Quality should be the benchmark, including the collision of the art with the place and the nature

That led me to work all around the globe, and I lived and worked in places like NY, Madrid, Miami, and Berlin. Meeting my wife, Sabina, gave me a completely new perspective on where I can apply my skills. Although she was born and raised in Germany, she is very influenced by the culture and mentality of the Balkans. That piqued my curiosity about this part of the world. I see the great potential, especially for international art and culture projects to be brought to this part of Europe, which is still in many ways unexplored.

Can you explain to us more about the Meneghetti Sculpture Garden project? That is how I first heard about you.

As you mentioned, we live in Fazana, beside Berlin, only 15 minutes from the Meneghetti. A friend from Zagreb introduced me to Miro Pliso, and we got along very well. He is a man with a vision, and with someone like him, you can build something that has a growing potential in the international art world. He was already integrating some local artist in the all-over concept of the Meneghetti. So, I proposed to him to bring it up to the international level with a sculpture garden concept which would be ongoing and bring on every year more and different artist from different countries. Quality should be the benchmark, including the collision of the art with the place and the nature.

Photo: Matej Paluh

You are also the founding director of the St. Moritz Art Masters in Switzerland and is co-founder of the NYC-based environmental organization Parley for the Oceans. Tell us more about those activities.

With my very close friend Monty Shadow, who unfortunately died recently, we founded the St. Moritz Art Masters in 2008. The festival took place aways in August, and we involved the whole Engadin Valley for exhibitions, workshops, symposiums and concerts. Over the years, the exhibitions were created with numerous artists and galleries in unusual locations, such as churches, cabins, barns, museums, private houses at lake sides, and at mountains. It has become an ongoing event for the summer calendar for almost ten years. Parley for the oceans was founded by Cyrill Gutsch, Lea Stepken, and me 11 years ago in NY. It is a collaboration platform and environmental organization concerning about the problems of our oceans. The back bone of the organization is the creative industry. Through their support, now we have partners such as Adidas, American Express, the world bank, and the UN, allowing us to run worldwide clean up and scientific and educational programs. That includes up cycling programs for the ocean plastic that we have been collecting with more than 250.000 volunteers worldwide. My job inside Parley is the art program we have built over the years, where artists support our cause by donating works or collaborating on exhibition projects.

Photo: Matej Paluh

You also plan to publish a book on the Brijuni islands?

When my wife and I came for a holiday with the Family to Istria, we also visited Brioni in 2020. We immediately fell in love with the islands, and decided to do a book about it. Looking at the culture and the diverse history of this islands in the centre of Europe, we thought this unique place deserved larger publicity by publishing an international coffee table book which shows the beauty of the nature, the cultural heritage, and sustainably kept islands where it looks like the time stood still. So, we hope to have the book ready next year.

Photo: Matej Paluh
In 2006, you gained a lot of attention by building “Uchronia: A message from the future”, a large wide wooden sculpture at the Burning Man Festival in Black Rock City in the Nevada desert. How did this cooperation start?

Arne Quinze: In 2005, we applied to participate in Burning man 2006. At first, we got no response to our proposal because they thought we were joking. They didn’t believe it was possible to put up a sculpture of such magnitude. However, together with my fantastic and structured team, we managed to do it anyways. We outdid ourselves there so much. It was a dream come true for me. On top of that, it was then decided to set my sculpture on fire at the end of the festival. It was unforgettable.

Photo: Matej Paluh

Meneghetti Sculpture Garden is the first project of that scale in luxury hotels in our region. How are you satisfied with it?

I am very content. I believe luxury hotels have a responsibility to bring culture to people. Good food, art, literature, and music have always been connected. On top of a healthy body, a healthy mind is equally important. Culture is an inseparable part of that mental wellbeing. Likewise, to Château La Coste and La Colombe d’Or, Meneghetti Winery conveys that perfectly.

Luxury hotels have a responsibility to bring culture to people

Arne Quinze, Photo: Matej Paluh

Tell me something about your next work? Any large-scale sculpture or installation commissioned by some city, company, organization or festival?

We are currently working on a project in South America, France and London. Besides that, I am also creating a large sculpture for Art d’Egypte, an exhibition in front of the pyramids of Giza. I am very happy with how it looks already. It is going to be magical. Lastly, and what I am most looking forward to, I will participate in the Venice Biennale 2024 in April. There, I will present my new concept, assuming the persona of an alien life form. However, I cannot reveal more than that just yet.

Photo: Matej Paluh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.