COLOURFUL, pleasing and simple, Martin Benka’s paintings have always been extremely popular in Slovakia. In fact, they have made him one of the bestselling, as well as one of the most expensive, local artists.
The principal subject of Benka’s paintings was the life of Slovak villagers and highlanders, which he often idealised as a result of patriotic ideas originating in the middle of the 19th century.
This replica of a Benka painting from the 1930s depicts furnishings typical in Slovakia at that time. Although the artist remains faithful to his own style and romanticises the interior a great deal, the painting still gives us a more or less clear idea of how Slovaks used to furnish their homes from the late 1800s to the period between the world wars.
Almost everything was made of wood – the ceiling, floors, walls, different pieces of simple furniture and a box, which was virtually the only place where valuable items could be stored.
Crucifixes and icons hanging on the walls were almost obligatory. Benka’s Slovak Room is also adorned with a wooden dove symbolising the Holy Spirit.
The Sunday bests, tablecloths and duvets were added by the painter; Slovak houses were actually less decorated.
24. Nov 2008 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan