I first started collecting naive art in 1983 when I visited what was then Yugoslavia. I was on tour with a friend and we were staying at a hotel near the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. There was an exhibition of paintings by Duro Jancic (born 1934- ) from Zagreb. The two paintings I possess are shown below. The paintings are quite small and neither painting has a title.

Jancic's paintings captivated me: I loved the rural subject matter and the delightful style with the emphasis of repetitive patterns in the trees, bushes and houses. But above all I loved the narrative that naive art carries.

During my time on this holiday, we moved on down through what is now Croatia to stayed for a few days in Dubrovnik between tours. I had plenty of time to explore the fasinating city and to visit several galleries where I first encountered the works of Ivan Lackovic (1932- 2004). Lackovic is one of the more famous of the Croatian naive artists and I could not resist purchasing the lithograph as shown below.

The work is of course framed but I have cropped the frame to be able to show the image a little clearer. It is very difficult photographing images that are covered in glass which picks up all the reflections through windows and from lights.

It is a delightful image of an elderly couple strolling towards a village nestled in the forest. Again you see the repetitive pattern in the trees, grass and roof tops. The bright clothing on the woman lifting the scene towards the bright light of the sun (or perhaps its the moon), against a sky that is nearly turquoise.

A little background on the Croatian naive painter Ivan Lackovic (1932–2004).

Lacković was born to a peasant family in the village of Batinske near Kalinovac. After completing his primary education, he worked as a laborer in fields and forests. This self-taught painter made his first watercolors, depicting village life, in 1944. He drew his first drawings in 1952.

Lacković moved to Kloštar Podravski in 1954. He spent three years there, painting his first oils. Then he moved to Zagreb, where he worked as a mailman and post office worker. In 1962 he met Krsto Hegedušić and occasionally worked in his master workshop. His first one-man exhibition in the HAZU Cabinet of Graphics in 1964 established his reputation as a masterful draftsman. He left the post office job in 1968 and became a professional painter.

He painted poetic scenes from his native region of Podravina in tempera and oil on glass (a traditional technique of the naive artists from north Croatia), while turning increasingly to the medium of drawing. Detailed winter scenes prevail in his early works. In the 1970s, he turned towards allegory, symbolism and the fantastic. The atmosphere of his paintings is lyrical and surreal.

He most frequently drew landscapes, figurative compositions, flowers and still lives. Portraits are very rare. He illustrated many books of prose and poetry.

Lacković had more than a hundred one-man exhibitions at home and abroad .... His works are exhibited in museums around the world: the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art in Zagreb, the Museum der 20. Jahrhunderts in Vienna, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea in São Paulo, the Metropolitan Museum in Manila, the Musee Henri Rousseau in Laval, the Setagaya Museum in Tokyo, the Museum of Art at the Carnegie Institute, the Museo Civico di Belle Arti in Lugano, and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in the Vatican. He created theater sets for the HNK in Zagreb and the Stadtopernhaus in Graz.

He was among the founders of the Croatian Democratic Union. He was elected twice as a member of the County Chamber of the Croatian Parliament.

In the 1990s, he drew a series of drawings about the human suffering in the Croatian War of Independence. He died in Zagreb in 2004.1

When I was in Dubrovnik I also rather liked the work of a student of Lackovic and I have a lithograph of hers as well. I am not sure of her name as the signature is difficult to read. It looks something like J.R.Ciriue but hopefully someone will read this post and enlighten me.

The image is of a young woman and small girl holding hands and gazing towards a distant village on a hill with the spire from the village church rising above the buildings. It's a lovely scene but rather dark and difficult to photograph.

And so my love of naive art was born. Several years later when holidaying in Italy I came across the works of Norberto Proietti an Italian painter who was born in 1927. The whimsical nature of his works amused me... flying monks above a golden corn field, all clutching bunches of flowers!

Both my Norberto works (he goes by his first name - a little like Vincent!) are lithographs which are of course very easy to carry in your suitcase. The one below is of the famous and beautiful village of Assisi in Umbria, Italy.

In both images, the subject matter is simple and the repetitive patterns in fields and monks (above) of rooftops and windows are a feature.

As I have been drawing your attention to repetitive patterns in paintings you might like to check out the bookmark link below to Patterns in Paintings. This post features some of the paintings of Italian Naive Artist Antonio Ligabue.

Patterns in Paintings
This post is especially directed at those of you who are learning to paint though hopefully everyone will gain something from the content. Contains paintings by naive artist Antonio Ligabue, Emmy Lou Packard and Anne Newman.

And two of Cornwall's naive artists Mary Jewels and Fred Yates are featured if you follow the link below.

A Touch of Mary Jewels and Fred Yates
Showcasing some of the wonderful paintings by Cornish artist Mary Jewels. Includes a video on Cornish artist Fred Yates.

Footnote

  1. en.wikipedia.org