Parish Feast Day Celebration in My Village, 1927
oil on canvas
Krsto Hegedušić’s Parish Feast Day Celebration in My Village painting from 1927 represents the beginning of the stylistic formalisation of the Earth Association of Artists, which Krsto Hegedušić was the initiator and secretary of. The association’s agenda centred on creating a national artistic expression that would – by using a socially engaged approach and looking to democratise culture – bring the life of Croatia’s peasantry closer to the general public. He painted the scene of a village celebration flatly using a lively and pure palette of colours typical of Hlebine, a region that Hegedušić’s father is from. The iconography of the scene is dominated by elements of folklore. The figures are typified, with their proportions solved symbolically, which in some borders on the grotesque. Hegedušić later abandoned the theme of idealisation of village and rural life, and turned to landscapes of harsh reality whilst in search of a specific tonality of his ‘native’ region, i.e. Podravina’s countryside. Having drawn not only on the legacy of Croatia’s native folk art, but also on Pieter Brueghel the Elder and George Grosz, Hegedušić painted the scene as simply as possible bringing only the most essential details.
Although his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb – where he was mentored by painters Tomislav Krizman, Vladimir Becić, Jozo Kljaković, Edo Kovačević and Ljubo Babić – and the ongoing course of Croatia’s Modernism in art had little effect on Krsto Hegedušić, his originality and determination in the 1930s birthed a new paradigm of form and motif, facilitating the emergence of Croatian Naive Art. In 1937, he started teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Besides painting, he also did drawings, graphics, frescoes, book illustrations, and theatre stage and costume design. He died in 1975.
Text: Zlatko Tot, curator intern © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb