The Zagreb Times Sinke

A lot of Croatian artists have international renown, from the classics such as Mestrovic to modern-age individuals such as 2 Cellos. The country’s painters are also unique and original, the movement of Croatian Naïve Art being the prime example.

The naive style is a special artistic visual expression that originated in Hlebine – the heart of Podravina. It all began in the 1930s with the emergence of two Podravina peasants who were self-taught painters – Ivan Generalic and Franjo Mraz. Naive art then became a global phenomenon. Mirko Virius, Josip Generalic, Mijo Kovacic, Ivan Vecenaj, Ivan Lackovic-Croata, Martin Mehkek and many others became known for their unique style.

Today, around two hundred names are associated with the Hlebine circle of painters. From Hlebine, naive art spread throughout Podravina (Gola, Molve, Gornja Suma, Klostar Podravski, Koprivnica, Durdevac) and has been preserved despite modern trends. The strength and beauty of the naive style lies in the original and somewhat nostalgic Podravina manner of painting, which numerous painters exhibit by using paint brush on glass.

Painting with oil paint on glass in the naive style of the “Hlebine School of Painting” was added to the list of Croatian cultural intangible heritage in 2012. The Tourist Board of Koprivnica-Krizevci County has developed a unique tourist product – the Gallery Roads which cover 15 galleries.

Beside the Hlebine Gallery which houses the legacy of Ivan Generalic, there is the Vecenaj Gallery in Gola and the “Old Town” Gallery in Durdevac which houses the “Donation of Ivan Lackovic – Croata”, comprising more than a 1000 paintings by over 200 authors from around 20 countries worldwide.

Combining the tradition of painting Easter eggs and Croatian Naïve Art, the Tourist Board of Koprivnica-Krizevci County created the project “Easter Egg from The Heart” – in other words, they built large polyester Easter eggs 2 meters in height and decorated in the naive style. Today these Easter eggs decorate numerous galleries, squares and locations around the world, from New York to Paris, Rome, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Salzburg, Marseille, Riga, Munich and many others. One of the eggs was also donated to Pope Benedict XVI.

Learn more about this exquisite artistic movement in the online gallery.

Lana Mindoljevic / The Zagreb Times
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