Friday, 4 November 2011

Review: The Art of the Hlebine School

The Art of the Hlebine School by Vladimir Crnkovic is an illustrated book detailing the project and history of the art from the Hlebine School and the Croatian Museum of Naive Art. It discusses the genre, the art and the life of the artists. If you are interested in culture, art, Europe or learning something new, while you don't need to go out and buy the book, I highly recommend you read on and check out some artwork. It's something nice and light for the weekend.

I have always loved art. I have exhibited work and regularly paint and draw. For my highschool art final, I made a series of paintings in a very unknown genre, Naive Art. Naive art is a concept, known as a modern primitive art of the 20th century. It follows an unique and poetic style that enhances emotional stories and still to this day is very difficult to define. Artists paint nature, their lost childhood, stories and dreams, no matter how joyous or dark. As long as they had an imagination and were curious about the world, anything was possible.
Originally in Croatia it was created by peasants, artisans, clerks and ordinary people from the village. Over time, the most successful of these became professional artists and are cultural icons in their countries.

The great thing about Naive Art is that everyone can paint what they want. Artists have been known to paint in watercolour, oil on canvas, wood and glass. The extremely amazing thing about Naive Art is the glass painting. I myself spent a week with professional artists in Osijek, Croatia to learn how this complicated technique works.

I won't go into detail for the technique, but to put it simply, you paint back to front. You use oil on the back of a glass panel and start with the details, such as eyes, facial features, accessories, highlights on trees etc, move on to hair, clothing and finish with the background (sky and grass). Once you are finished, as long as you place a protective sheet on the back where you painted, the front will always be safe from harm.

To the left is my first attempt. It is an oil on glass work that represents my life with my brother when we were children. We were involved with Folkoric dancing and this became the first time we put sibling issues aside and became friends.

Here are some examples of Naive Art from the book:

Landscape; Oil on Glass - Ivan Generalić

Flood; Oil on Glass - Ivan Generalić

On The Hills - Primeval Forest; Oil on Glass - Ivan Rabuzin

Woodcutters; Oil on Glass - Mijo Kovačić

Final Comments
For lovers of art and culture, this is not a book to miss. It describes an international art which can now be found across Europe, Asia and the US. Different artists have their own style and colour palettes, each unique in their own way and full of drama and emotion.
Unfortunately, this book is extremely impossible to find online as it is one of those special edition art books sold at museums. As I bought it at the museum it was an easy find. If you are interested, I have found a link here. Or if you are ever on holiday and are visiting Croatia, by all means stop off at the museum in Zagreb and take a look at the amazing art. It is in a quaint space hidden in a beautiful building in the heart of the city.

Release Date: 2006
Publisher: Izdavač
Author: Vladimir Crnkovic


  1. I'm planning a trip to Croatia next year so I'm glad to have read this post! I know nothing about Croatian art and if fact was debating on whether or not to visit any of the museums. How amazing that you spent a week studying this technique. I'm impressed by your artwork.

  2. Thanks :) I never really show my work but its great to hear that. Thats really cool about your holiday. Do you know where in Croatia you are heading? My family are from there and I visit all the time. There are dozens of museums to visit if you are keen on it. Otherwise walking around or trying out all the delicious food is just as good :D

  3. Beautiful pics. I enjoyed them!

    Hi! My name is Chrissy. I'm following your blog now. I'm here from The Weekly Book Blog hop hosted by Beck Valley Books. It's great to meet you!

  4. The paintings on glass are awesome! Thanks for including them here.
    I am blog hopping & following you from Beck Valley Books. Growing Old With Grace Hugs, GraceinAZ

  5. Hiya new follower here, thanks for visiting my blog. I've never seen these paintings before, they're beautiful.

  6. Great to hear you all enjoyed the works. I may just add some more art books on occasion to lighten the reading :)