Miha Maleš: The Piran years, 1955-1980 |

Opening: Friday, 10th of December 2021, at 19.00 h | 10.12.2021 – 13.02.2022 | Herman Pečarič Gallery, Piran | 

Curator: Breda Ilich Klančnik, Organization exhibition: Nives Marvin | 

Sečovlje – soline, 1960, engraving, 8×8 cm

Piran, 1957, monotype, 39×52 cm (foto: Brut Carniollus)

If Gorenjska's lictar heart was Maleš's amulet in his youth, his mature years were marked by a cosmopolitan experience, especially the year of 1951, a very fruitful year spent in Paris in collaboration with renowned publisher Doret Ogrizko, and picturesque impressions from travels in Western Europe from the Cote d'Azur to the lands in the north and from a sailing trip to the British Isles.
The following year, he unveiled a rich harvest of his study tour at the Modern Gallery in Ljubljana. Špelca Čopič, among others, wrote about the exhibition, which attracted a lot of attention in the Slovenian magazine Slovenski poročevalec. “In the entire mosaic of Slovenian art, Maleš's works are so unique that in amazement we are scrambling to find his point of origin.
Color has been a part of the Slovenian culture since the Impressionist era, but where did he get his sense of line, an extraordinary sense of decorating the whole?” The appraiser enquired, and replied to herself simply: “However, no proof of provenance could explain Maleš to us, as he has outgrown all influences and remained faithful to himself. In time, he only became more genuine. He shook off everything that was contrived and walked past Western art, which is so diverse and violent, without conquering it, loyal to himself and his country."

Upon his return home, he discovered his terre dʼélection on the coast of Slovenia and dropped his anchor in the picturesque town of Piran during the summer months. He first rented a house on Punta cape and in May 1960 he finally bought a house in Liberty Street 3 (slov. Ulica Svobode 3). He bought the building from Domenico Piccoli, who was a local of Piran. It did not offer him a view of the sea, but it was only a stone's throw away from the central Tartini Square and the bustling promenade towards the fortified lighthouse and to the Spacal House next to it. With the help of architect Edo Mihevc. The Triestine painter and graphic artist Lojze Spacal imprinted the house with his distinctive mark.

In addition to Spacal, Piran has been chosen as a summer refuge by many other Slovenian artists, from Božidar Jakac, Nikolaj Omersa and the sculptural duo Kalin, to the younger generation as represented by Janez Bernik, Adriana Maraž and Slavko Kranjec. Maleš approached Piran from various angles, he observed the typical city view from afar, entered its mysterious narrow streets with their characteristic arches, stopped at the location of some interesting detail, such as a portal or window, he counted the many bell towers and directed his gaze at the crowded port. From the city he went to nearby Fiesa, Portorož, Seča and the area of salt pans. He drove to Izola and Koper. He was always accompanied by his indispensable camera and sketchbook. He pressed the shutter button of his camera countless times and later made numerous engravings and a series of colorful monotypes based on tiny contact copies. The photographs eventually gained authentic documentary value. The filigree white drawing drew quite a few poetic scenes from the dark background of the graphic matrix, especially in the night reflections of modest saltworks houses. He took a particularly spirited approach to creating monotypes based on his summer photographs. These were made later on in his Ljubljana studio on the edge of Tivoli park, thereby enabling him to extend his summer and translate his reminiscing about Piran into intoxicating color images.

Nives Marvin, curator of the show

Miha Maleš (*6 January 1903, Jeranovo above Kamnik – ┼ 24 June 1987, Ljubljana). He studied at the sculpture department of the School of Arts and Crafts in Ljubljana, the Academy of Arts in Zagreb, and at the private school Zu St. Anna in Vienna. In 1927, he completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (prof. Franz Thiele and prof. August Brömse), where he obtained a specialization in graphic art. After graduating, he returned to Ljubljana. In that same year, he joined forces with his professional colleague and friend Stane Cuderman and presented himself to the Slovenian public for the first time with an exhibition in the Jakopič Pavilion. Maleš's art world is distinguished by a light and elegant line and a soft lyrical sense. He especially liked to delve into the rich folklore tradition of Slovenes and other nations. In his search for harmony of form and rhythm, he followed the Fauvist principle of painting. He received several acknowledgments and awards for his work- Prešeren Prize, the most important of them all, was awarded to him in 1977. In 1980, he carefully curated and listed the collection of his works together with his wife Olga and donated it to his home town of Kamnik, thereby creating the foundation for the future Gallery- Miha Maleš collection.

Translated by Matic Bukovac