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Art Spotlight

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava - BIB '99. National Culture Centre, Nám. SNP 12, open daily except Mon., 10:00-18:00. Tel.: 07-54 43 49 86. Ends October 31.
The months of September and October have long been months of art and culture for children in Bratislava. Since its start in 1965, a children's book illustration exhibition in the centre of town, called the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava, has grown into one of the largest and most complete shows of this whimsical, intellectual art form in the world. Now in its 17th year, the 1999 staging of the bi-annual show will run until October 31 at the National Culture Centre.


Etsuko Nakatsuji won Grand Prix at Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava
photo: Courtesy of BIB '99

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava - BIB '99. National Culture Centre, Nám. SNP 12, open daily except Mon., 10:00-18:00. Tel.: 07-54 43 49 86. Ends October 31.

The months of September and October have long been months of art and culture for children in Bratislava. Since its start in 1965, a children's book illustration exhibition in the centre of town, called the Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava, has grown into one of the largest and most complete shows of this whimsical, intellectual art form in the world. Now in its 17th year, the 1999 staging of the bi-annual show will run until October 31 at the National Culture Centre.

The show presents a wide range of styles of children's books illustrations from international and Slovak artists. In all, 296 illustrators hailing from 47 countries are participating, showing a total of 2,259 works.

At the Culture Center, the illustrations are divided according to the particular countries from which they come. The national flags of each participant are on display and each illustrator is given approximately two square meters to show his or her work. The exhibition is "easily reachable" for children as some of the pictures are hung very low on the walls.

Earlier this month, prizes were awarded to the top illustrations on display. After a difficult selection process, an international 12-member jury awarded Japanese illustrator Etsuko Nakatsuji from Japan the Grand Prix at the show's official opening and award evening September 10. Other prizes, such as the Golden Apple award, honorary plaques, and an Honorary Mention to a children's book publisher, were also awarded at the formal event, held at the Slovak National Theatre.

In Slovakia, illustration has been a strong art form through the past decades. Vincent Hložník and his student, Albín Brunovský, are considered to be among the best illustrators, winning the BIB exhibit's top prize in its first year.


Albertine Zullo from Switzerland won the Golden Apple BIB '99
photo: Courtesy of BIB '99

As children's book illustration styles are deeply influenced by the culture from which they emerge, the art form is now changing in Slovakia, said Miroslav Cipár, chairman of the BIB jury. Slovakia's communist past "was a very strong influence" in the old works, he said. Now, he added, "we have new stars".

The exhibition, which provides visitors with a colourful catalogue, is also accompanied by children's workshops at the Culture Centre as well as by special exhibitions of foreign cultural institutions in Bratislava. UNESCO, a sponsor of the exhibit from its opening year, held a workshop focusing on the work of Albín Brunovský at the renaissance castle in Moravany nad Váhom. More than 100 works from previous years' workshops were shown in an accompanying exhibition opened by UNESCO president Federiko Mayor from Paris.

Apart from the main exhibition, the Culture Centre is also staging an exhibition of French illustrators featuring Martin Jarrie, the BIB Grand Prix winner from 1997, and a collection of books by Tomi Ungerer and Katherine Paterson, both holders of the 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Prize.

Other exhibitions staged at the Culture Centre include "Vincent Hložník, Nom Concours" presenting thirty illustrations collected by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO, posters and photographs from Munich's International Jugendbibliothek, and an exhibition of books awarded the Grand Prix or Golden Apples in past years.

The Biennial is organised by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, the Bibiana International House of Art for Children, and the BIB committee. This year, the exhibit also pays tribute to the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration of the Rights of a Child.

Compiled by Soňa Bellušová

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