Naïve art was unrecognized as a type of art for many years, but with all of its successes and failures it still managed to draw attention to itself, to survive and justify its existence. Namely, there can be no history of art at either international or domestic level written without mentioning naïve art.
Naïve artists in our region have gone through a rather long way full of obstacles until they have become recognized, just like the father of naïve art, Henri Rousseaubecause his sincere and direct art was undermined for many years. These artists were often called neo-primitives, painters of instincts, holidays, villages, Sunday-painters, painters with a great heart…. It is still a fact that they did not have any academic training and that they were not familiar with artistic expressions, they did not stick to artistic elements and compositions they were taught, instead they used their pure heart, directness, a great spirit, rich imagination supported by technical skills and strong natural talent to make themselves recognizable and likable when it came to the audience and then when it came to the critics, too.
This was the experience of painters from Kovačica as well, that is, the painters of the Gallery of Naïve Art in Kovačica. Kovačica is rather small in terms of geographical maps, but it is a true metropolis, a Mecca of naïve art because all those who respect and enjoy naïve art come there to visit a so called ‘Kovačica school’ of naïve art.
The phenomenon of art in Kovačica has been an enigma for those who love and discuss naïve art for a long time. How come such a small environment carries so much spirit, gift, interest, imagination as well as talent? What was the encouragement for this, what type of energy is there and which special urge made these individuals lean towards naïve art? There is still no true answer, but the questions are justified. One thing is certain though, naïve art has deep roots in this area.
It seems as if everything began due to pure idleness. Namely, in winter when nights were long and when there was no work on the field, in 1930s, Martin Paluska and Jan Sokol started painting. They were amateurs and in a rather naïve, modest and timid way, in 1939, they discovered their love for art. Three years later another painter joined, Michal Bires. After the war, in 1947, they met another person in love with brushes and pallets, Vladimir Bobos, who taught them the craft of painting, how to deal with canvas, mix colors…. They had a common interest and they became close, they kept meeting, working and finally at the beginning of 1951, led by Bobos, they founded an art section as a part of the Cultural and Educational Association ‘Progress’ (Pokrok). In the fall of the same year, Martin Jonaš and Jan Knjazovic, now doyens of naïve art joined this section.
At that time, they copied famous painters, they copied postcards, tried to make them almost the same as the originals and in this manner they showed their natural talent and skills. They did not feel the need to express themselves in their own unique ways. They were attracted by exotic, thus their canvas mostly showed what did not surround them-gondolas in Venice, romantic castles, animals in Africa, etc.. The art section grew and as there were more and more members the biggest encouragement for their work was the celebration of 150th anniversary of the arrival of Slovaks into the region. In October 1952, all painters had a joint exhibition for the first time. The Cultural Center opened two exhibitions: women’s handwork and amateur painters. There were works of 12 painters and two carpenters, producing intarsia. Although there were no paintings reflecting naïve art, this year is considered to be the one when the exhibitions of Kovačica’s naïve painters started. Since then, painters, the members of the Gallery of Naïve Art in Kovačica, have been presenting their work every year in October and they call this art salon ‘Kovačica’s October’.
The first exhibition caused a true thrill among the audience and soon the news spread about these talented painters hence in 1953, an academic painter from Pančevo came and judged them for copying and the lack of originality. He taught them and advised them to paint what they see, what they feel and not to follow anybody. The painters believed him and felt that there was a change coming, at which point their art section divided into two parts. One group included painters who were supporting individual artistic expression, whereas the other group included those who copied – those who would not stay in the field of art for too long. This milestone year brought the first exhibition of original work of Martin Jonaš ‘Harvest in Banat’ and of Jan Sokol ‘Adorning the Bride’. In fact, this year is considered to be the year when naïve art in Kovačica was born and when for the first time there was a local motif on canvas, painted sincerely, freshly, with vivid colors of the nature and folk costumes.
The third exhibition held in October of 1954, showed even more original works as well as new painters. Jan Strakusek, Jan Venjarski, Pavel Hrk, a young student Alzbeta Cizikova and others started painting, too. Farmer-painters became the hot topic at the time and this was a good reason for a permanent exhibition. On May 15, 1955, in the Cultural Center, the local Gallery of Naïve Art opened. Over the years, the same space would see traditional salons in October, there would be painters coming and going, there would be more and more paintings in the Gallery fund each year, and now, after many decades of its work, the Gallery owns paintings of 46 painters who were persistent enough and talented enough to make Kovačica famous all around the world. Besides those whose works embellish the walls of the Gallery, let us still mention painters who showed their work only a couple of times at Kovačica’s October, so that we do not forget them because they have contributed to the development of naïve art in Kovačica, too: Vilma Đurić, Pavel Suchanek, Fedor Martinović, Jan Marko, Zuzana Zloch, Zuzana Žolnaj, Ludmila Halupka, Adam Toman, Karol Hrćan, Adam Marček, Ondrej Kralik, Ana Bartoš, Paulina Korenj, Marija Petraš, Pavel Mravik, Pavel Mikuš, Juraj Bovdiš, Juraj Nemček, Martin Liska, Jan Čižik, Martin Toman, Pavel Žolnaj, Jan Lenhart, Jan Hajko, Marija Janjiš, Ana Husarik and Martin Đuriš.
During the 1960s, two novelties appeared. Firstly, women became actively and seriously engaged in the field of naïve art. They participated in the exhibitions and they became members of the Gallery. The most famous one is without any doubt Zuzana Chalupova who started painting at this time, as well as Katarina Kožikova, Eva Husarikova, more actively Alžbeta Čižikova, for the first time Ana Knjazovic, Ana Lenhartand new painters Jan Garaj, Pavel Lacko, Ondrej Venjarski. There was more and mora talk about these painters, many art enthusiasts from the nearby village of Padina came to see those paintings and then encouraged by Kovačica painters they started to paint, too, and since the beginning of sixties they have been exhibiting together at Kovačica’s October. There were Jan Bacur, Jan Husarik and Michal Povolny. This made the exhibitions less local because they included naïve painters from Padina, as well, and this was the second novelty in the Gallery that decade.
It was precisely the late 1960s and early 1970s that were the ‘golden age of naïve art’ because at this time, it reached its full expansion and climax. During the seventies, the abovementioned painters from Padina, Jan Husarik and Michal Povolny, and a painter from Pancevo – Ondrej Pilch became the members of the Gallery.
These painters became very popular which inspired other people who loved brushes and pallets to start producing their own work, too, while the Gallery membership became a prestige. During the 1980s, the Gallery membership went to artists who had proven themselves already: Katarina Karlečik, Jan Bačur, Pavel Cicka, Jan Glozik, Pavel Hajko,Marci Markov and Ferenc Pataki, who made another novelty to the Gallery. Namely, until then, all the members were Slovaks, and Pataki from Zrenjanin, a Hungarian, changed the national structure of the painters.
Over the years, as the number of members had been increasing, the Gallery fund had become richer, too, thus the space of the Gallery became rather small for all the paintings and it was necessary to find another place for the Gallery because the Cultural Center had become inadequate. In 1989, the Gallery moved into a new, reconstructed, adapted and equipped building which used to be a regular house. This happened during the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Yugoslavia.
The last decade of 20th century saw more new members of the Gallery: Jozef Havijar, Jan Hriješik, Juraj Lavroš, Pavel Ljavroš, Eva Svetlikova, Desa Petrov Morar,Rozalija Markov, Štefan Varga and Marija Vargova.
Then at the beginning of the new millennium, there were new painters, too. Ana Knjazovic and Ana Lenhart (who participated in the exhibitions before) became the members, followed by Nada Korenj, Drago Terzić and Jan Žolnaj. This was a particularly important period of time for the Gallery because on 15 December 2008, the Gallery officially separated from the Cultural Center and became its very own cultural institution-the Gallery of Naïve Art.
This new institution got another space for exhibition in the second decade of 21stcentury, and the Gallery became an institution of a special national importance for Slovaks, as decided by the National Council of Slovak National Minority. The Council became the co-founder, too, and offered its own property, the Memorial House of Martin Jonaš with hundreds of artifacts, to the Gallery. In this period of time, the Gallery got new members as well:Marija Hlavati, Ana Kotvaš, Pavel Povolni Juhas, Martin Pap and Marina Petrik.
65 years after the first exhibition of Kovačica painters, or after the first naive paintings appeared and the first art section was founded, the painters today are members of a true, recognized and famous Gallery of Naive Art. At first there were only painters from Kovačica, and today there are those from Padina, Pancevo, Zrenjanin, Aradac and Opovo, too. The painters were only Slovaks at first and now there are Hungarians, Serbs and Montenegrins, as well. Nowadays it is a true privilege to be a member of the Gallery or even just to have an exhibition there. This institution has made its own branding and has become a renowned place. The reason for this lies in its enthusiasm and primarily in the painters who share their ideas, create and present their art. Basically, painters have a causal relationship with the Gallery because there would be no Gallery without them, whereas without joint exhibitions, ideas and clear goals enabled by the Gallery, there would be no success, either. There would have been many thorns on the road taken by the painters and the journey towards recognition would have been much slower. Just like naïve art which went through transformation and evolution, the Gallery has also become a living being which changes, grows and improves itself constantly.
Scholars and historians do not find it easy to analyze naïve art. There is simply no criterion or formula which could include an artwork into naïve art almost instantly. There are numerous debates and analyses regarding what in fact naïve art is. However, there still is one thing about which scholars agree – not every artwork produced by a non-academic artist can be called a naïve art. On the other hand, there cannot be a clear line between a non-academic art and naïve art either. Not every illustration of tradition, folklore and narration belongs to naïve art. It is believed that a true naïve art is recognized by the state of the spirit, a pure soul of the artist, reflection of his/her feelings. Their compositions show their sensitivity, a true wish and need for the creation of art and materialization of their ideas in an artwork. Each artist follows ideas, wishes, pureness, sensibility and energy, while skills and talent are naturally implied.
If naïve art is defined in this manner, there will again be a variety of works of art. Each painter is unique both when it comes to the manner of painting and when it comes to topics, motifs and ideas on the canvas. Therefore, we can observe the art of painters of the Gallery from a historical point of view, then on the basis of the timeline of creation of naïve art in this region, based on topics and motifs found on the canvas, based on their choice of light motifs, techniques, elements that dominate their paintings and finally based on their very philosophy of art found on their paintings.
Historically speaking, there are three stages of naïve art in Kovačica based on the time of its creation and based on the work of certain artists.
The first stage is related to the founders of naïve art in Kovačica such as Paluska, Sokol, Bires, Jonaš, Knjazovic, Jan Venjarski, Strakusek, Hrk and others. They used the colors of the nature and folk costumes, they conveyed their present on the canvas, the lifestyle in their environment, life of villagers in a house, stable, field, backyard…. They painted what they were advised to, their own surroundings, what they saw, what they were doing. They observed the reality, painted their story with a brush and a pallet. In the sense of the art, just like all beginners, they were still learning to paint and searching their own artistic expression which would make them recognizable.
The period of expansion and flourishing naïve, 1960s and 1970s was the second stage in a historical context of naïve art in Kovačica. Those painters who used to be beginners now built and clearly defined their styles by that point of time. Jonaš began painting farmers with enlarged limbs, Knjazovic found his own style in terms of paining people, animals and houses, while Bires, Bobos and Hrk turned primarily to portraits and figures as motifs. Furthermore, Jan Venjarski started painting horses, while Paluska and Sokol began painting tradition and everyday life with a great precision.
This period was the time when naïve art flourished, but it was also significant because women started exhibiting, too: Čižikova, Halupova, Husarikova, Karlečikova, Kožikova, Lenhartova. Ondrej Venjarski started painting inspired by the work of his brother Jan, and then they were joined by Garaj, as well. Ondrej Pilh heard about these painters and came to Kovačica to have joint exhibitions with them, as well as painters from neighboring Padina: Husarik, Michal Povolny and Bacur.
The topics remained the same thus, there were: tradition, customs and folklore of Slovaks, rural environment was glorified and there were all aspects of life of people living in the village.
Their paintings show a full narration, each painting has its own story told with a special art formula unique for each painting. At that time, painters were creating their styles more easily and quickly, just like they found their motifs, topics and ways of expressing themselves. The unborn child of Zuzana Chalupova is a light motif of her paintings, Ondrej Venjarski, unlike his brother’s horses, shows oxen, Garaj paints simple scenes of everyday life by using flat surfaces, Pilh created his own image through the selection of topics-his paintings show fishermen, etc.
Painters from Padina have the same theme but they are noticeably different when it comes to their interests and they paint things specific for their hometown. Jan Bacur has become a true chronicler of the past of Padina, and shows Padina’s streets, valleys and wells. Husarik turns to thirst and struggle of villagers to find water which was rather scarce at the time. Just like Povolny who was primarily focused on landscapes, he avoided painting folklore elements on paintings.
There are also pictural differences between painters from Kovačica and Padina. Painters from Kovačica show liveliness, sensibility and strong colors, whereas painters from Padina use more refined colors, with melancholic and lyrical tones.
The third stage of naïve art in Kovačica is the longest one and it certainly includes most painters. There is a variety of content, topics and motifs, styles and interests. The evolution and transformation of naïve art is obvious, which is also natural. Most painters used to have only primary education, and only rarely secondary education, while younger generations today have even academic titles. It is therefore understandable that with more education and along with greater technological opportunities available to every artist, there are new horizons, too, new topics and thus understanding art itself is different.
This stage, just like the members of the Gallery which appeared in the third stage, can be divided into several groups.
One group includes painters loyal to the tradition, presentation of customs and rural environment while reflecting on the folklore of their own nation. Unlike the painters who dealt with same topics, they did not actually live in time period which they painted neither they showed memories of their childhood but if they did, there were only few. Namely, they paint based on the stories they heard from their parents and grandparents, trying not to let those old times be forgotten. These painters are: Zuzana Vereski, Hriješik, Nada Korenj, Desa Morar Petrov, Pavel Povolni Juhas, Eva Svetlikova, Štefan Varga, Žolnaj and Marina Petrikova.
The second group includes those who paint farmers and a rural environment but not in connection with folklore: Cicka, Glozik, Hajko, Rozalija Markov, Havjar, Marija Vargova, Marci Markov and Juraj Lavroš. A separate group of artists includes painters whose canvases have a specific philosophy of art, completely different from this previous period of time, and they are: Ana Knjazovic, Pataki, Pap, Pavel Ljavroš i Marija Hlavati.
Themes and motifs
Basically, most painters who painted or are still painting had several stages of their work because their art was evolving, changing, they had different interests in different periods of time the content was changing, too, as well as the pallet.
If we take into account topics and motifs of the members of the Gallery, the dominant position belongs to the genre motif. In other words, there is no single painter who has not painted genre motifs at some point of his/her work, moreover, a great majority of painters has devoted their art precisely to painting this motif. Genre motif is rather dominant in the art of these painters and often it is connected and synthetized with interior, landscape or a panorama, the role of which is just to be the setting. In most cases, it is related to the life of farmers in this area. Paintings show farmers working in fields, in their backyard, at weddings, when they go to church, when they cry at funerals, drink and play cards in a pub, vote, ride on a carriage, ride bicycles, have restin their room, and generally speaking – these painters use their work to make even the tiniest part of past lifestyle eternal. Regardless of topics, that is, no matter whether there is a detailed narration or a simple moment of an action, no matter whether there are many people in paintings or only one or two, genre motif still holds the primary position when it comes to the artistic expression of these painters. Most painters use genre scenes to present the tradition in colors of Slovak or Serbian folk costumes.
When it comes to the topic, those related to folklore or nationality are also accompanied with mythological topics such as the art of e.g. Jan Husarik, who is rather unique in painting Troy, inspired by Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
Glozik deals with historical topics, and thus presents the arrival of Slovaks into this region, lives of Cyril and Methodius, etc.
Strakusek, Hajko, Glozik, Cicka and Varga make their paintings focused on hunting and lives of hunters. In addition, Cicka uses turquoise and emerald, while Pilh uses bright red with burning sky to skillfully show fishing and fishermen in a quite appealing way.
Marija Hlavaty and Pavel Lavros turn to pastoral topics, idyllic landscapes and surreal nature. Contrary to them, Jonaš and Hajko paint with a rather erotic sub-context and the latter has devoted an entire phase of his work to painting in this manner. Jonaš uses erotica in hints and by painting an enormous corn, thus it is symbolical. On the other hand, Hajko is more explicit in this aspect and he is open, vivid and not shy at all to show hills and valleys as parts of a female body.
Winter is another topic which we often find in naïve art in Kovačica. Desa Morar Petrov paints this season in a very specific manner and emphasizes each snowflake with dots. Painting winter has made two artists particularly famous: Zuzana Chalupova and Eva Husarikova. Zuzana Chalupova painted winter several hundred times and made it unique and colorful by presenting many happy children dressed in Slovak national costume. Therefore, it is not a surprise that winter is a trademark of Zuzana Chalupova. On the other hand, Husarikova paints the whiteness of winter contrasting it with a magical night.
There is another topic common to these two painters, and this is a topic related to the Bible, that is, painting scenes from both Old and New Testament, showing Jesus, Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel, Virgin Mary and others dressed in a Slovak national costume, thus combining Jewish and Slovak culture.
Further on, a landscape holds an important position in naïve art in Kovačica, while it is the most dominant topic of Marci Markov, Pavel Lavros and Ferenc Pataki. As an individual motif, the landscape emphasizes the beauty of nature, vast fields and vast space. Markov wrote a true ode to the plain and its fertile fields precisely by painting landscapes.
Panorama is a motif which lies in the presentation of streets and architecture. Just like landscapes, the architecture is a setting for the painters and so Jonaš, Varga and Lenhartova skillfully convey their ideas onto canvas in this manner precisely.
A special place in naïve art of painters, members of the Gallery, belongs to portraits. Portraits are not that common in naïve art but they are still worth mentioning. Jonaš, Bacur, Hajko, Hrk, Bires, Bobos, Cizikova, Strakusek and Pap made some unique portraits. The value of portraits lies in realistic facial features, in the presentation of character and personality. Naïve artists did not try to present the state of spirit of the person they observed, and so they painted their relatives, neighbors, acquaintances or even celebrities working very hard to make the portraits as realistic as possible. Vladimir Bobos was the most successful one in this, and his portraits seemed just like photographs. It needs to be mentioned that Jan Bacur and Martin Jonaš painted self-portraits, too.
Vargova, Karlecikova, Jonaš, Bobos and Bires also focused on figures. Karlecikova dressed them in Slovak national costume in an inconspicuous setting; Vargova made her figures slim, proportional wearing regular clothes; Bobos’s figures were quite disproportional while Bireš placed his figures in a specific setting rather realistically.
Martin Jonaš gave a lot of thought to painting figures and so it was always primary and dominant in his paintings. A man in his paintings carries a specific philosophy of art because he has a small head and enlarged limbs, which emphasizes a hard work of farmers. This is a trademark of Jonaš’s entire work as it made him recognizable and authentic and famous all over the world.
Animal motifs are also rare in naïve art. Pavel Cicka spent an entire stage of his artwork on painting this motif: a horse, full of strength, power and beauty. Pavel Hajko has spent most of his work as an artist painting animal motif. At first it was a fight between a fox and a rooster and then he has turned to having the rooster as a light motif. It is colorful, embellished with various nuances. Ana Knjazovic paints in the spirit of her own family and presents horses and roosters by using the formula of her father.
It is the choice of light motif that makes a skillful artist specific, recognizable and authentic in his/her work.
There is no doubt that the most famous painter of ‘Kovačica school’ of naïve art is Zuzana Chalupova whose light motif was a child, which gave her a nickname ‘Mom Zuzana’. With a great motherly love, she painted her unborn child, that is, children from their very childhood till the time of adulthood. She dressed them in colors and cherished them with her art, played with them, took them to school, to church, for a walk, and she smiled with them. Regardless of faith, origin, nation or race, she painted them all equally, and this child as a light motif made Chalupova famous all around the world.
Flora is often found in naïve art and so it makes us recognize the canvas of Zuzana Vereski who paints flowers, especially daisies, then we notice ikebana of Drago Terzic and sunflowers of Cizikova and Hlavatova..
Eva Husarik primarily paints an apple tree and a thistle, Michal Povolny, Martin Pap, Marci Markov and Stefan Varga paint pumpkins, and Martin Jonaš and Anna Knjazovic paint big corns.
When it comes to animals, most often there is a horse, especially when it comes to Jan Venjarski, Cicka and Anna Knjazovic, there is an ox painted by Jozef Havjar and Ondrej Venjarki, a turkey painted by Anna Kotvasova, a goose painted by Juraj Lavros, geese and a black cat by Zuzana Vereski, while Pavel Hajko paints a rooster.
The naïve painters of the Gallery also paint objects which have a significant role in the composition of a painting and so they present cracked vases or jugs, both of which are found in the art of Jan Husarik and Martin Pap as metaphors for thirst and the lack of fresh water in Padina in the past.
Namely, the entire work of Jan Husarik is based precisely on a search for water. Genre scenes show the wells of Padina, those who carry water, great barrels for water and a vase is often a type of a main actor of a painting placed in an unusual setting making the painting rather impressive and its artist extremely famous.
Architecture is rarely a light motif in naïve art. Perhaps an example of this could be the presentation of a church tower, but it was in fact Michal Povolny who painted a true architectural light motif – a windmill, which made him unique.
The members of the Gallery of Naïve Art most often use oil on canvas and only few tried painting on glass and among them it is Drago Terzic who is a true master of this technique. Jonaš, Bačur, Vereskova, Hajko, Čižikova,Cicka, Husarikova, Pavel Ljavroš, Husarik andGlozik also use a pencil or Indian ink, while Marija Hlavati, Cicka, Glozik, Karlečikova, and Čižikova use pastels. Anna Lenhart stands out as the one using intarsia, which is rather precise and likeable production of paintings on veneer.
Besides the basic idea, selection of topics and motifs, artists choose specific elements of art in addition to choosing techniques and way of composing their paintings. By choosing one dominant element and making other elements secondary, artists also create their own style and authenticity.
Naïve artists mostly turn to a line as an element of art, because it builds a form, while colors only fill in the gaps. Venjarski brothers, Paluška, Bačur, Lavroš, Žolnaj and others use this element, and a line is also found as a decorative element of all artists who paint the topics of folklore. They draw national costumes, decorate them, decorate walls of the interior, etc.
Martin Jonaš and Martin Pap are true masters in this regard because their approach to the line is completely different. Pap makes contours with dark or black color which makes the shape very strong. Jonaš has refined movements of a pencil and sometimes there is only a hint of a shape which does not minimize the function of the line. The line is simply lost but visually it is more than present because it provides shape for the actors in paintings, and glorifies the strength and talent of the artist.
Furthermore, the color is for most naïve painters only decorative. It celebrates folklore, it is taken from national costumes and it is sensible, strong and intensive. We find this in the work of artists of the first and the second period but also in the works of Rozalija Markov, Zuzana Vereski, Desa Morar Petrov, Marina Petrik, Ana Kotvaš and others. We see the same intensity and strength of colors in the works of painters of the younger generation where folklore is not that dominant: Hajko, Glozik, Cicka, Varga, Terzić, Pilh. Milder colors and intensity, as well as lyrical palette can be seen in the works of Pavel Ljavroš, Marija Hlavati and Jan Husarik, whereas the colors of the nature are noticeable in the landscapes painted by Marci Markov, Jozef Havjar, Jan Bačur, Mihal Povolny. All the painters use colors in order to express themselves artistically and the only thing that differs is the intensity of palettes. However, Jan Garaj, Mihal Bireš, Jan i Ana Knjazovic and Ferenc Pataki use colors exclusively as an element of art in the very sense of that concept.
Garaj and Bires, the painters of the oldest generation, created their work on wide, smooth and flat colored surfaces. Bures used neutral colors on his portraits as well as darker tones, while Garaj painted genre scenes by placing colorful spaces of the same intensity next to one another.
A true master of art is for sure Jan Knjazovic with his innate talent, a sense for color and its relations. He had no knowledge of theory of art, function and meaning of colors, but he used complementary colors spontaneously with a keen sense for style and folklore which made him rather unique. He made volume in his paintings by fine transitions and nuances of one color. There was an early period of his work which involved bright colors and there was a fully mature period of his work, the peak of his work when he used darker colors and painted nights in purple, dark blue or ultramarine, but in both cases the color showed a true virtuosity of the artist. His daughter, Ana Knjazovic, paints today in a similar palette but with slightly different colors she inherited the talent, as well as the sense for colors, thus she continues the legacy of Knjazovics’ naïve art.
Furthermore, Ferenc Pataki is another master of art but he uses a rather different technique and different colors. His uniqueness is reflected in his approach to art because he uses pointillism. In this case, it is necessary to know colors well, their intensity and relations so as to mix them in the eye of an observer and achieve the goal set. Pataki uses dark and white contrast and a sophisticated sense for colors to create art which occupies a special place in naïve art overall
Elements such as dark and light colors or expressions are rarely found in naïve art. Katarina Karlecik often paints interiors with genre scenes and uses shadows to express herself, Pavel Povolny Juhas clearly defines the source of light and shows beams of sunlight in wine cellars but we still cannot call this a true element of contrast between dark and light.
Compositions are mostly horizontal but certain painters, especially those of the third period, also have vertical and diagonal compositions as well as those in the shape of a triangle. Garaj is the only one who paints two-dimensional paintings without any depth. A cheerful composition with many people on the entire canvas is seen in the work of Zuzana Chalupova and Rozalija Markov.
The first generation of painters usually made the compositions based on the first and second scene, the first and primary scene including main actors and the action, while the second one included streets, backyards and fields.
The painters of the second period of naïve art in Kovačica show the depth of the space by providing the third scene with a linear perspective and levelled fields which present a vast plain of Banat and glorify this flat space. Only in the third period there is a certain atmosphere of the perspective. There are fine transitions of tones which show the infinite space that is at certain point combined with peaceful of stormy clouds in the sky. Sometimes there are also mountains, like in the work of Pavel Lavros who painted surreal landscapes or in the work of Drago terzic who includes beautiful mountains of his native region.
The painters of the Gallery of Naïve Art use the combination of technical perfection and artistic talent as well as rich imagination and keen sensibility to show the world of the past, present and their dreams on their canvas. Namely, once again they prove that nature and their environment represent the core of an artwork. Although there is a variety of interests and although they have an extremely rich imagination, they still remain within the frame of naïve art. Each painter finds his or her own style which is unique, characteristic, recognizable and original.
The canvases of these painters have a certain artistic maturity and a clearly defined, unique formula which is easily perceived. They show the past, they reflect the soul of the artist in present, and their immense value will keep on living in the future forever.