03.07. – 28.08.2021

Sava Sekulić

From Sava to Sava

Opening: 2 July 2021, 6 – 9 pm, Galerie Michael Haas

Galerie Michael Haas presents selected works from the comprehensive estate of the Yugoslavian artist Sava Sekulić (1902 – 1989). Intertwined human and animal bodies, scenes from everyday life, landscapes and frontal portraits, captured in elementary colours and formal reduction are characteristic of his work.

The exhibition is titled after an eponymous cycle of work and emphasises the artist’s two creative poles, the writer and the painter. Until 1932, Sekulić created thousands of poems, drawings and dramas. He learned to read and write as well as to paint and draw himself. Sekulić emphasised this identity as an autodidact in his signature “CCC”. In the Cyrillic alphabet, it stands for the first letters of his first and last name as well for “samouk” meaning “autodidact”.

Besides oil works on cardboard and wood, the drawings disclose that poetry and visual art were of equal value to Sekulić. The poems often appear on the backs of the sheets, at the same time they are an intrinsic part of the fronts. They contain teachings and general statements. In some works, they complement the images.

While the works are often associated with naïve art, especially their frontal representation without the use of perspective and a focus on a few colours, these very qualities can be linked to the anthropomorphic creatures, hunting scenes and roundels on bogomil stones or with early Christian art in Croatia. Sekulić reassesses and extends the relevance of these traditions to his own present and creates an idiom of his own.

Sava Sekulić (1902, Bilišane, Austria-Hungary – 1989, Belgrade, Yugoslavia) is one of the most important representatives of naïve art from the former Yugoslavia. As an artistic autodidact who had also learned to read and write himself, he initially wrote poems and dramas. In the 1930s, he produced numerous, figurative oil paintings on cardboard as well as sculptures.

Thanks to a small pension, he focused on his work toward the end of his life. He began exhibiting his oeuvre after the art historian Katarina Jovanović discovered his talent in 1964. In the same year, he became a member of the visual arts section of the Jedinstvo (Unity) cultural and artists’ association.

His works were shown in solo and in group exhibitions, especially at the Duro Salaj Gallery in Belgrade and the Primitive Art Gallery in Zagreb. In 1973, he received the Đorđe Andrejević Kun Prize, an important prize in amateur art. In 1984, the Munich Galerie Charlotte, which specialises in naïve art, art brut and outsider art, presented his work in Germany for the first time.

From 1985 onwards, his works appeared in solo exhibitions at the Galerie Charlotte and the Galerie Susanne Zander, Cologne, in group exhibitions such as From Face to Face. The Portrait in Naïve Art at the Musée de Lavalle, France and the Clemens-Sels-Museum, Neuss, Germany. In the 1990s, the Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne as well as the Art Basel and the Art Cologne presented his oeuvre.

The estate is part of the Zander Collection, which focuses on naïve art, art brut and outsider art. The estate is currently represented by the Galerie Michael Haas.

Exhibition Catalogue