Naive Art shown in the SNG

NAIVE ART is a genre that refers to work by self-taught artists who dissociate from dominant art trends. The exhibition currently running in the Slovak National Gallery (SNG), called Medzi selankou a drámou / Between Idyll and Drama, draws from all forms of this genre, though its main focus is turned toward these art forms as they are reflected in 20th century Slovak art.

Ondrej Šteberl: Posledná večera / The Last Supper (1971)Ondrej Šteberl: Posledná večera / The Last Supper (1971) (Source: Courtesy of SNG)

NAIVE ART is a genre that refers to work by self-taught artists who dissociate from dominant art trends. The exhibition currently running in the Slovak National Gallery (SNG), called Medzi selankou a drámou / Between Idyll and Drama, draws from all forms of this genre, though its main focus is turned toward these art forms as they are reflected in 20th century Slovak art.

For example, the first exhibition room presents prints from woodcuts by Paul Gaugin, who according to the exhibition bulletin was a major figure in a group of artists who found inspiration in the expression of the so-called “primitive peoples”.

Zuzana Koblišková who conducted a guided tour of the exhibition on May 12 said that the woodblocks were brought to central Europe by noted Slovak politician-statesman and astronomer M.R. Štefánik who journeyed to Tahiti to observe the sky of the southern hemisphere, and brought them to Prague. Gaugin was also the inspiration for Slovak artist Orest Dubay.

This first part of the exhibition is called the Myth of Primitivism and it continues to the Power of the Archetype and Folk Inspirations which explore the impacts of the primeval values and creative concepts on Slovak artists who lived and worked much later.

The final two sections relate in a deeper, perhaps more profound way. Titled The Fear of the Empty and Mediumistic Art, Surrealism, the Unconscious, they explore the hidden layers of the human soul “when the art can become a sort of therapy which can turn out to be only connection left for the artist to communicate with the world”.

The exhibition has eleven sections in all.

This collection was first created in 1965 when the International Department of Naive Art was established by Štefan Tkáč, an important theoretician in this genre and the founder of the international event Triennial of the Naive Art, the SNG’s bulletin announces.

The exhibition is curated by Katarína Čierna and Alexandra Tamásová. It can be seen until June 2 in the Esterházy Palace of the SNG, daily except for Mondays, and is accompanied by a catalogue with a summary in English.

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