Vladimir Doroghazi – oil paintings

Vladimir Doroghazi lives and works in the second largest city in Serbia – Novi Sad. He is a trained artist who make a deep impression on the viewers with his softly rendered, hazed, brushed-in landscapes that look so barely-there that a simple puff of air might make them disappear back into the fantasy.

The trees, rivers, fields, houses and windmills all acquire in his work almost a fairytale-like beauty, and the meaning of many is slightly disturbed (or underlined?) by the repeated motive of a clay jar, unreal, but perfectly fitting in the painting’s composition.

Gavra Koljesar has compiled a wonderful online collection of Mr. Doroghazi’s paintings. You can access these collections here: Gallery 1 (still-lifes and views of the countryside), Gallery 2 (views of the villagers in their daily life) and Gallery 3 (clay jars).

Polish Road 2 
Source: Courtesy of Vladimir Doroghazi
The Dawn (oil on canvas)
Source: Courtesy of Vladimir Doroghazi


Continuing in the Lemko spirit, I want to point out the work of a well-known naive and folk artist – Nikifor from Krynica. There is plenty of information in English about him, so I won’t be telling you what you can read anywhere else. You can even watch a movie called My Nikifor.

Rich Custer and me were exchanging some insights on how the three naive artists Telep, Nikifor and Potoma differ in their style, their color palette and the impression their works give. He aptly pointed out that the differences are largely due to a broader socio-politico-economical flavor of the times they live(d) and work(ed) in:

“Nykyfor lived through WWI, WWII, and Akcja Wisla – very traumatic times, whereas Potoma, coming of age during the Prague Spring and maturing through the Velvet Revolution, seems to express romantic notions of the Rusyn village life from “the good old days,” which he probably remembers from his childhood [and] adolescence.”

A View of Krynica by Nikifor
Source: http://kdoutsiderart.com/2012/06/25/nikifor-1895-1968/

Stefan Telep – an “unprofessional” painter

I already talked about what became my first encounter with naive art – Miro Potoma from Slovakia. Through getting to know his work and exhibitions, and through exchanging some insights with Rich Custer, I came across Stefan Telep from Poland. I found it telling that he would put the words “unprofessional painter” on his online portfolio. He exhibited with Potoma in Svidnik, Slovakia, a year ago, and I can only imagine how memorable it must have been to see and compare the two naive Rusyn artists side by side in a joint show. I am pointing out one of his winter landscapes because I haven’t posted any winter paintings yet, and also because we all know how hard it is to paint…well, snow.

Untitled winter landscape by Stefan Telep
Source: http://www.telep.za.pl/foto11.html

Byzantine-style icons hiding in the architectural treasures

My short post on this church on Facebook reached over 500 people and received over 20 likes within some 48 hours. I feel that the reason for this is very simple. One of the two singular aspects of being Carpatho-Rusyn is religion, the other is the Rusyn language. Both came under so much trial throughout the long Rusyn history that it is remarkable they were able to survive, repeatedly revived during different cultural “renaissances” in countries where Rusyns have lived.

A church like this one, dedicated to Archangel Michael in Uličské Krivé from 1718, is not the only one. Historically, there have been around 300 churches in Slovakia of this architectural style – only wood and no nails, with Byzantine and Roman stylistic elements, dating from 16th to 18th century. Today 50 of these churches remain, the richest group being the group of churches of the Eastern Christian rite in eastern Slovakia. All these churches contain impressive Byzantine iconography and most of them are still in use for daily masses and holidays. To enter a church like that is to enter a place where yesterday meets today.

Miro Potoma – a follower of the naive art tradition

For this post I had to delve a little into new art terminology. One of the contemporary Rusyn artists from Strocin, Slovakia, Miroslav Potoma, now 55 years old, is an artist whose most fruitful creative years have been marked by a tendency towards naive art (pioneered by Henry Rousseau). The term itself should not be read as childish and immature, but rather as innately genuine, native and natural.

The Village of Korejovce by Miroslav Potoma. Source: Miroslav Potoma Website
The Village of Korejovce by Miroslav Potoma. Source: Miroslav Potoma Website

Potoma’s passion for painting developed in his early years and he’s now an internationally known and award-winning artist specializing in landscape painting using different media – lino-cut, oil, pastel, drawing. He’s still living and working right there in his homeland so if you are looking for something authentic through and through, something that will bring out the magic of your Rusyn traditions and half-forgotten childhood memories, his paintings are it.