Tag: carpatho-rusyn artist from slovakia

Michal Sirík – a naive painter from Sterkovce

By now, we know about naive art thanks to Miroslav Potoma, Stefan Telep, Teodor Kuziak and Nikifor. They all have their own signature when it comes to capturing the scenes connected to the everyday Rusyn life. So when you hear “Nikifor,” you should see the many views of Krynica, when you hear “Potoma,” the magic of the Rusyn past crosses your mind, and when you hear “Kuziak,” you recall the colorful Lemko villages. So what do you see when you hear “Sirik”?

Sirik’s paintings are highly praised, his work has received many awards. He started painting only when he retired in 1983 at the age of 58. Since then he entered into public and private collections of such collectors as John Warhola (Andy’s brother) or Peter Breiner (a famous pianist from Humenne, Slovakia living and working in New York)  and he exhibited in all the important naive art exhibitions in Europe (1). 

The fight by Michal Sirik. Source: http://www.nocka.sk/vytvarna_tvorba/vytvarne_spektrum/fotogaleria/sirik
The Fight by Michal Sirik. Source: http://www.nocka.sk/vytvarna_tvorba/vytvarne_spektrum/fotogaleria/sirik
Rusyn Christmas by Michal Sirik. Source: http://lakemichiganrusyns.blogspot.sk/2010_12_01_archive.html

What is mostly noticed about his compositions is the high number of figures, lots of colors, and the stories that are behind every grouping that carry the meaning of the scene. You get some amusement from observing the everyday life in the paintings, but you also get a sense of solemnity, as, for example, in the painting above, where the Christmas mood in the village is so beautifully captured.

In picture and sound – Dedina 2012

Last November, Daniela Kapralova, Bohus Tabak and Peter Holly exhibited together in Humenne, Slovakia, and the title of their exhibition was “The Village.” It was basically a photographic documentary, a subjective one, that is. Everyday moments of the life in several villages in Slovakia and Belarus (Zazriva, Sumiac, Stakcin, Cuchovo) were captured and presented to the audience in a month-long exhibition. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let the images pass in front of our eyes and see what we can take from them – I hope for a truly human experience.

Thank you, Bohus Tabak, for letting the viewers embed your YouTube video.

Passing the light to children – Miroslav Capovcak

Behind the Church by Miroslav Capovcak
Source: Courtesy of Miroslav Capovcak

I’ve read somewhere that in one’s life, in a hundred years, not much will matter but how and whether one changed a life of a child.

In my research I came across a contemporary artist and an art teacher from Snina, Slovakia, Miroslav Capovčák, who, similarly to the artists of Rusyn “Barbizon” in the beginning of the 20th century, founded a private art school in Michalovce where he’s passing the art of painting onto the children – Rusyn or not – of the 21st century. His efforts as an art teacher came to fruition with his students winning international competitions, topping it with a gold medal at a world art exhibition in Taiwan in 2008.

Capovčák’s work, of which I show you two examples, is defined by playing with the edge between abstraction and realism, blocking in the patches of pigment, layering of the pure colors, to suggest things barely visible to the physical eye, ideas that are innately in the scene, but not at the moment.

You can find paintings that you can easily categorize as e.g. landscapes executed in one technique, but then you have many where you can identify some idiosyncrasy, which makes you question the objects you see.

Changes by Miroslav Capovcak Source: Courtesy of Miroslav Capovcak
Changes by Miroslav Capovcak
Source: Courtesy of Miroslav Capovcak

Olena Mandychova – a forgotten master sculptress

Olena Mandychova (Olena Mandičová in Slovakian) was born in Giulesti, Romania in 1902. She was the first professional sculptor among Rusyns in Czechoslovakia and only 25 years old when T.G. Masaryk, the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, sat for her. Consequently, the bronze statue that now doesn’t exist anymore, was her masterpiece.

In the 1930s she made sculptures and memorial busts of Rusyn political and cultural activists (A. Dukhnovych, A. Dobriansky, A. Mytrak) erected in a number of towns in eastern Slovakia and western Ukraine. Mandychova also created pieces showing aspects of the traditional Rusyn life (a shepherd, a woodcutter).

The turbulent years of the Second World War, exile, Communism and a serious illness ended her career and “she spent the last 30 years of her life virtually forgotten while working as a cashier in a shop in the eastern Slovak city of Kosice”(1). 

The statue of Alexander Dukhnovych in Presov, Slovakia, and Yevgeniy Fenczik in Uzhorod, Ukraine are probably the last surviving works. Other statues were taken down and destroyed by the authorities, or finished off  by thieves. One of her other last surviving works is “The Winged Wheel” on the main train station in Bratislava that has been there since 1939.


Alexander Dukhnovych with a Student (1932) by Olena Mandych
Source: http://sk.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%BAbor:Presov_Alexander_
Yevgeniy Fenczik (1926) by Olena Mandychova  Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uzhorod_EA_Fenczik_monument-2.jpg
Yevgeniy Fenczik (1926) by Olena Mandychova
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uzhorod_EA_Fenczik_monument-2.jpg
mandicova koleso
Source: http://bratislava.dnes24.sk/obrazom-pozrite-si-ako-vyzerala-hlavna-stanica-v-minulosti-a-dnes-226171

Anna Gajova – capturing the effects of time

Anna Gajova
The village Pohorela by Anna Gajova

Some time ago, I talked about Andrej Gaj. Today I will tell you about his daughter Anna Gajova. She was born in Presov and has both maternal and paternal Rusyn ancestry. She was very excited to mention that when I asked her about it! She has been exhibiting in Slovakia and abroad (France, Germany, Czech Republic) since 1990 as an academically trained artist who is no stranger to a variety of techniques and genres: landscapes, portraits, action painting, graphics, illustrations, linocuts, etchings, watercolors and drawings.

In this small watercolor that belongs to a series of watercolors capturing Slovakian villages you can appreciate the scene from a slightly elevated viewpoint, adore the emotional and exaggerated rendering of the old cottages leaning down under the weight of time, a red and brown color palette that adds so much to evoking the passing of the years, and the golden glow of warmth that thinking about the past often entails.