The story of “The poorest rich man”

Zhivko Popovski-Cvetin, one of the greatest Macedonian artists and humanist as well who started his mission of Peace, promoting the Art itself through his distinctive symbol-the flower. He’s donating as presents his paintings of different event to different persons, spreading his magic and his timeless flowers of the Peace.

Where the concept of painting flowers comes from?

You see, I have painted flowers since I was a kid to give to my mother present for the 8th of March, like all the kids do. No matter if it`s a kindergarten or primary school child-everybody`s drawing flowers and since I come from the village of Brezovo, the Demir-Hisar region, known for its meadows and forests-all of that made an impression on me. I also had one mule that I used to take around so I collected flowers giving it straight to the mouth and that’s how I have noticed those small but beautiful things that stayed in my mind since I was a kid.

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How many years you are giving away your paintings and how many you have done so far?

Since the 70`s I started more intensively with this, mostly collages and mosaics with the flower as a motive but in 1984 when I’ve got the letter of Mother Teresa in pulled me deeper into this humanitarian act. In total I have over 55.000 paintings in different sizes painted so far.

What is your motivation to start this humanitarian mission?

When I got the letter of Mother Teresa that inspired me to start the trip. It says: “Dear Zhivko, I thank you for your kind letter and the beautiful painting. We have our mercy sisters in Skopje and if you can get in touch they will explain you how to take part in our Mission of Love. The poorest are always around us: lonely and unwanted. Be kind and make good deeds for the closest near you”.At the beginning besides Mother Teresa I gave paintings to Willy Brandt, Dolores Ibarruri then Indira Gandhi receiving always unexpected responses like this and those encouraging letters just motivated me more to do what I love to do.

What famous persons and at what events have received your magnificent flowers?

I have given paintings to George Bush, John Major, Helmut Kohl, Jacques Chirac, FatosArapi, Blaze Koneski, Ted Hughes, Eugene Guillevic, Paolo Coelho, Ray Charles, BB King, Richard Gere, Claudia Cardinale and many more.In 1985 I have sent to the United Nations 160 paintings for the day of the UN, on 24th of October and on this occasion I made an exhibition in the city library “BrakaMiladinovci” and send it all by the Yugoslav Peace League.Since that day my flowers begun to be called Peace Flowers.Those paintings I donated with strong message: “The flower inside the man does not want the winds of war so I do not invent new flowers, I just bring out the flowers of the people that love the Peace and Freedom” and that`s how it started this Peace Mission.

Do you have any favorite letters or poems that were dedicated especially for you throughout your life?

I have many favorite poems. The first one is by Blaze Koneski as a gift that made me visit every year the Struga Poetry Evenings and donate hundreds of paintings. So the poem “Rose” is my favorite that I always tell by heart. Then I have one by Petre M. Andreevski also very favorite and it says: “Where did you learn that magic my friend to grow up all the sunflower that you know and you don`t and stop their growth whenever you want?”

Is there any painting that you especially proud of?

It can be said for my greatest painting I have done back in 2015. That painting I started on the holiday Cvetnici and worked entire 4 months almost 8 meters per day so in total 1001 m long and 22 cm wide. I started on 5th of April until 5th of August, the birthday of my mother as I completed this flower path. That was also one symbolical act as that year was the 1001 years of the blinding of king Samuil’s soldiers.

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And how did you feel being among the candidates for Nobel`s prize for Peace?

I was called by one director in the Macedonian National Theatre asking me if I want to be presented as candidate. I could not answer at that point as I have never thought something like that but after reconsidering I decided to call him to confirm. Out of 205 candidates in the first round I was among the first 30 candidates and among them-the third. First was Barack Obama, second Nicola Sarkozy, Bill Clinton-6th, 30th George Bush Junior, Vladimir Putin-29th, 28th-Tony Blair. So naturally I`m very proud in such a nomination of people and I felt like moral winner as there very many critics addressed to Obama and Sarkozy.

What would you recommend to the youngsters to continue the battle for peace?

The peace process should start from all of ussince our youngest age. My first paintings that I donate at the start of every year I give them to the Clinic of Gynecology. The kids should accept the word Peace since their youngest age and once it gets into their memory they will constantly remember it and the flower itself is the right and most beautiful symbol that I have chosen for that purpose.

Eva Naumovski

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