Naive Art
Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vojvodina, . . .

In the various parts of the former Yugoslavia, man has for centuries found ways of expressing in artistic form whatever he has found important and meaningful, natural and useful. The best evidence of this are the frescoes in some of the monasteries and churches, or the icons on woodand glass painted by men of the people. For these they use bright colors, shining gold, and strange and wonderous motifs. In Serbia, relatives and friends used to erect memorials on clearings along the roads, usually places where their loved ones had met their fate, so that the weary traveller resting by the wayside could think of ancestors who had laid down their lives for freedom. A folk sculptor would often portray a man killed in ambush, chiseling him in stone with his hand on the weapon he had no opportunity to use because he was taken by surprise.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the heretical medieval sect of the Bogumils, or the local nobelmen, or the one and the other, raised more than sixty thousand stone "eternal homes," sarcophagi with strange carvings of scenes and ornaments.

Two hundred years ago, the Slovene peasant depicted events from real life or allegorical tales in paintings on bee-hives, intending in this way to indulge in humorous play at his own expense or that of friends. In Bosnia, Vojvodina, Slovenia, and some other areas, doors, windows and furniture were painted. In Vojvodina, along the roads and in the fields one can still see peasant carts painted with folklore motifs and drawn by powerful horses gay with decorations and ornamented bridles.

Matija Skurjenji is a dreamer and live near Zagreb. His trains travel in all directions, bearing our dreams. Although he worked for the railways many years, he travelled little. While he remained in place, seeing trains in and out of the Zagreb station, in his thoughts he went with them, following them and their passengers to their destinations.

Joze Tisnikar of Slovenj Gradec is employed in the autopsy room of a hospital and every day sees lifeless bodies on a slab in front of him When he finishes his job, he starts thinking about the deceased's way of life. Then, in his painting, he brings him back to life again; the deceased no longer looks the way he did when alive for he has returned from the world of the dead from which only Tisnikar can retrieve him.

As a boy, Martin Mehkek had spent much time with gipsies in their tents and twig huts, and was especially fond of watching the gipsy women smoking clay pipes and exhaling large smoke circles. The scene was all the more fascinating for the boy because village women of that time never even dreamed of smoking, for doing so would have put them on a par with the gipsy women.


    World Encyclopedia of Naive Art
    Chartwell Books, Inc. ,1984
    Primitive Painting, Alpine Fine Art, 1981
    The Modern Primitives,   Filipacchi, 1977

      Mirko Virius

To read more about Croatian naive art, please click here.