Some time ago I made it clear that I was determined to figure out the provenance of Nikola Pekovic’s wicked tattoos. Let’s remember together. On his arm, Pek sports a really terrifying caped warrior standing on a pile of skulls. And on his back is a huge piece depicting the face of an old, wise man superimposed upon a flaming monastery.
Well, because I am a courageous journalist (and the truth never sleeps), I’ve accomplished this essential task. That warrior? “It’s just me and my progress this year,” says Pek, “the drawing is something like me.” Totally.
The monastery is the Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro, which is built into the face of the nearly sheer Ostroska Greda rock and is dedicated to Vasilijie, a 17th century bishop who died and is entombed there. It’s on fire in the tattoo simply because it was nearly destroyed in a 1923 blaze. Makes sense to me. According to Professor Wikipedia, the monastery “represents the meeting place of all confessions: the Orthodox, the Catholics and the Muslims. According to the stories of pilgrims, by praying by [Vasilijie's] body, many have been cured and helped in lessening the difficulties in their lives.”
Pekovic elaborates: “It’s really symbolic, it’s got big history. I just wanted to have something to remind me of my home and everything.” Pek is obviously hilarious, but there’s also something totally soulful about him. I’m not sure if it’s the way he seems to be fighting against his own body when he’s on the floor or the forlorn look behind his eyes, but I think I love this guy.
Update: Upon closer inspection, those are not flames, they’re rocks. Which is considerably less spectacularly apocalyptic, but still pretty great. The piece actually looks quite a bit like the woodcarving above.