Slovenian painter Metka Krašovec, who passed away in April, was unique for several reasons. She was as fearlessly sincere as only a woman can be, while her sensibility manifested through fantastical images, creatures, landscapes and atmospheres – All of her famous red paintings from the 1970s, via the eruption of enigmatic and witty drawings from the ‘80s, to the angelic creatures in timeless landscapes that she has painted from the ‘90s onwards
She insisted on extra discipline in her creativity and was unique in this aspect of imperturbability and devotion, as a female painter and professor in a male-dominated world. Each time she returned to the risky side of the violent confession of the inner image with which she was obsessed.
Metka was born in the same year that the Prešeren Prize was founded in Ljubljana, 1941. After completely classical grammar school studies, she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, from which she graduated in 1964.
She went on to graduate four years later from the Department of Painting under Professor Gabriel Stupica and Professor Riku Debenjaku.
She served between 1966 and ’67 as an assistant professor in the Department of Painting and Graphic Arts at the American University of Athens, Ohio, and from 1974 to ’75 she was a fellow of the British Council as a Graphics Specialist at the Royal College of Art in London.
As an artist, Metka was always interested in beauty, as something she could handle interpreting without spoiling it with sickly sweetness or kitsch. And this interest never went away, especially in contemporary times, when beauty has been blown away by banality.
As she said, the beauty of this sharp edge is that beauty, and not falling into banal kitsch seemed like a great challenge to the painter.
As an artist, Metka was always interested in beauty, as something she could handle interpreting without spoiling it with sickly sweetness or kitsch. And this interest never went away, especially in contemporary times, when beauty has been blown away by banality
Speaking about this great artist, art critic Vladimir P. Štefanec said, “When I think of Metka Krašovec, I may first start by burning intense orange blossoms from earlier paintings with architectural motifs, the Franciscan Church, then I remember the grace of its angelic faces, cypresses, rich blues, excessive metaphysical silence, mental reticence, loyalty to classic artistic values…
Among all of her works, what touched me the most was her sensational quest for conformity, closeness to her small, intimate watercolours.”
Metka’s images changed over time – from the reds of scattered sacral exteriors and interiors, via large heads between the cypresses of the Mediterranean region, to the waterways of her later years that arose either from the exhaustion of the preceding phase, fresh action or loss and wounds. The transition to each new phase was understood as a sign that this artist was evolving, examining and rethinking the core of her painting.
In later years she devoted herself mainly to works on paper, while still painting. She also entered into a dialogue with poetry, with her drawings and watercolours, supplementing the verses of poets like Emily Dickinson’s Nox portentis gravida or Cyril Zlobca (Gedich collection Ljubezen – the miracle of the soul).
Krašovec received the Prešeren Prize for lifetime achievement in 2017. Speaking at the award ceremony, she said, among other things “like the 5,000-year-old poetry, the need for painting has been maintained from the Cave of Altamira to this day, in addition to satisfying the need for survival and beauty, and after remembering that the image has the power to concentrate time and all those images in which the viewer can be recognised”.
Krašovec was also a previous recipient of the Prešeren Prize and the Sterija Award for stage design.
To commemorate her 70th birthday, the Modern Gallery created a retrospective exhibition covering all of the most important stylistic and contextual chapters that Krašovec pursued from the beginning of her creative career.
Metka’s images changed over time – from the reds of scattered sacral exteriors and interiors, via large heads between the cypresses of the Mediterranean region, to the waterways of her later years that arose either from the exhaustion of the preceding phase, fresh action or loss and wounds
Speaking in an interview at the time, Metka said “everything I painted relates to my life. But this does not mean that you sit in front of a canvas or paper and then plan your thoughts or happiness carefully and intelligently. You paint completely independently of this; the feelings themselves engage in your work.”