Ivan Generalić
Washerwoman, 1936
oil on glass; 29 x 33 cm

The colour palette, typology and motif of Ivan Generalić’s Washerwoman is typical for the early Naïve art of Hlebine. During the 1930s, at the encouragement of Krsto Hegedušić, self-taught artists from the Podravina village of Hlebine painted and drew scenes from everyday life, so the ‘Washerwoman” is characterized by clear drawing, flat composition and pronounced symbolic local colours. The disproportionate figure is devoid of personal features, and the location specifies the characteristic ambience with Podravina houses and coral willow canopies.
Starting with readily available pencils and watercolours, the Hlebine painters-peasants later also painted in tempera and oil. Raised in the tradition of buying mostly religious paintings on glass (glaži), which have long been sold in villages of the Podravina region by Austrian and Slovenian itinerant painters, the Hlebine painters, besides paper and canvas, often also painted on glass, an easily available material of fascinating lustre. In 1930 in Hlebine, Krsto Hegedušić recognized and started to encourage Ivan Generalić’s fascinating innate talent. From 1931, Generalić started to exhibit as a guest artist in exhibitions of the Association Zemlja. He initially critically painted images of village life in watercolours, and later often in oil and tempera on glass. After World War II he became the central figure of the so-called Hlebine Peasant Art School, and his rural scenes approached lyrical idealization, metaphor and phantasy. In the 1970s, he devoted himself to symbolic and existential themes. He received international acclaim and held around seventy solo exhibitions in Croatia and abroad.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb,
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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