You can find Pero Jelisić every day in his gallery at Vlaska 87, surrounded by a number of sculptures mostly representing Nikola Tesla and his inventions. You will probably find him working on a new sculpture or talking to his friend and co founder of their NGO Vladimir Bogdanić, discussing with him the plan of the next Birthday celebration of Nikola Tesla. They organize this celebration every year on 10th of July at the same address in a huge hidden garden joined by musicians, dancers and different sculptures of the Serbian/American inventor Nikola Tesla created by Pero Jelisić.
Jelisić is originally from Bosnia born in 1939, at the age of 7 he heard about Nikola Tesla for the first time from his uncle when he quoted a sentence said by Tesla “If I can catch the thunder with my hand, I can lighten the whole world with this energy”. This sentence remained in the memory of the little boy Pero and over the coming years it triggered him to know more and more about this inventor. At school he joined the radio club and there he saw a sculpture of Nikola Tesla which he didn’t like, he offered to make a better sculpture and he did.
His talent was remarkable and not to be missed. He promised himself that one day he will devote all his work to Tesla. He continued his studies in the academy of art and his admiration and passion to Nikola Tesla never left him. When you meet Jelisić you will be overwhelmed not only by his sculptures but also by the numerous number of stories about Nikola Tesla, his life, inventions, morals, intelligence which he tells with great excitement showing in his eyes.Nikola Tesla may not be as famous as Thomas Edison who is an American inventor and businessman. He is mostly famous for the practical electric light bulb. When Tesla emigrated to the United States in 1884 he was working for Thomas Edison in New York City. And here Pero Jelisić has a story to tell:
Tesla was offered the task of completely redesigning the Edison Company’s direct current generators. Edison offered him fifty thousand dollars if he can do it. That was a great amount of money at that time. After months of work, Tesla fulfilled the task and asked for the money which Edison promised when Edison replied that he won’t pay him as they had no contract to document this. He then offered him a 10 $ raise in his weekly salary but Tesla refused the offer and immediately resigned. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. Tesla also has his achievement in wireless lighting and electricity distribution. In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.
When the war started in Yugoslavia, Jelisić was teaching at the Academy of art in Zagreb. He moved to Germany and when he returned to Zagreb in 1993 he couldn’t get back to his job. No one at that time seemed to remember the Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla not only that but even his statue in the city of Gospić made by Frane Kršinić – Jelisić professor – was destroyed. Jelisić had never forgotten when he promised himself as a child to one day devote his work to Telsa and that was the right time. He started working on many sculptures in a small atelier with no idea what he will do with them after.