Julijan Kolesar Rusnak – “neither naive nor realist but… unique”

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The artist’s grandmother’s house (1978). Source: Video Rajski Zahrady Julijana Koljesara

These are the tentative words that a local priest and a friend of Julijan Kolesar, Father Yoakim Kholoshniay, used to described his first impressions of the artist’s work. But the more he studied them, the more he appreciated their value as unique expressions that didn’t lend themselves to any easy categorization. The artist himself described his style as “lyrical realism”. He didn’t need any models – he drew from his vivid imagination, from memory. The nature as such wasn’t an attractive source of inspiration, it was rather spirituality and human nature. He recalled his keen interest in folk patterns that were all around him growing up: on houses, dresses, Easter eggs.

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Source: Courtesy of Slavka Kolesar

He left Djurdjevo as an adult and ended up in Montreal, Canada, where he made a living as an artist. Yet all his creative efforts were for and about his people, the Rusyns of Vojvodina. When, for example, during his 1978 visit to Djurdjevo he saw that the old houses were being replaced by a new build-up, he went ahead and painted all the remaining ones, including his grandma’s house. He kept sending his artworks and writings back home and to important cultural institutions. And Father Yoakim made it his goal to collect as many of his paintings and ethnographic writings as he could, which led to creating a permanent exhibition at the parish in Djurdjevo.

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Source: Courtesy of Slavka Kolesar
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