First published: Winter 2022/23
The raw paintings of Miodrag Pavlović Dragomirac harken back to the simpler days of his childhood in the former Yugoslavia
Today it is almost impossible to be culturally isolated – however, instinctive, sincere expression in the form of spontaneous, imaginative creation in the language of self-taught artists is a phenomenon that continues. The work of naïve artists arises from the primordial need to make the world a better place and to leave a trace of their existence in time and space. Ordinary everyday events, therefore, often become the motive for creating poetry of rustic shapes and colours.
Race, n.d., 27.5 x 19.5 in. / 70 x 50 cm
all artwork: mixed media on cardboard, unless otherwise stated
Miodrag Pavlović Dragomirac – commonly known as Pavlović – was a self-taught visionary who started painting in the 1990s, a time when naïve art in the former Yugoslavia and the wider world was declining in favour of outsider art. There was still a clear distinction between the two genres: naïve art – decorative or representational – reflected the world around the artist, while outsider art was deeper and more abstract with more personal meaning, reflecting the inner world of the creator. The work of Pavlović, created over the last two decades, may be considered as a kind of rebirth of naïve art.
Tito’s Guard-Soldier with His Wife, 2017, 14 x 19.5 in. / 35 x 50 cm
Starting his painting career when he was in his sixties, Pavlović first exhibited in 2011, in his native village of Dobrača as part of the annual event Dobrača Days, and then in the surrounding cities of Kragujevac, Jagodina and Belgrade. He participated in art colonies (creative and social meetings of international artists), as well as in the First Triennial of Art of Self-Taught Visionaries, organised by the Museum of Naïve and Marginal Art in Belgrade, in 2016, where he was awarded the Grand Prix for Exhibited Works by the international jury. In 2018, two years before he died, authors Sladjan Bogdanović and Predrag Todorović made a documentary about his life and work.
Fića Car Race – When Fića Stops, Horse Is Needed, 2017, 27.5 x 19.5 in / 70 x 50 cm
Born in the village of Dobrača in 1938, he grew up surrounded by unspoiled nature, far from the noise of the city, thinking there was no world beyond the surrounding hills. In his youth, Pavlović served in the army as a clerk, and often drew illustrations for the display boards along the corridors of the military barracks. After returning from military service, he did some farming as well as some masonry work. In the garden of his childhood home, he painted images on the walls and fences, wanting to save his childhood from oblivion, to leave his descendants the memory of their ancestors and family members.
The artist at home in 2015, photo: Petar Jovanović
Pavlović began drawing as a boy – his oldest surviving painting dates from 1952 – but it was not until several decades later, after his retirement in the mid-1990s, that he devoted himself fully to art. He said that at night "Pictures from childhood came", and in the morning he would hurry to paint them before the memory faded. In his instinctive desire to express himself artistically, to put all his senses and emotions into a meaningful rendering of scenes from everyday life when he was a boy, he returned to the art of childhood: pure form and ideas, without self-censorship. He transformed the world around him into his own idea of it. Thus, an ordinary day spent in the countryside was presented in the form of a holiday of shapes and colours, a metaphor of happiness.
By NINA KRSTIĆ
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #113