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1954
oil/hardboard
370 x 500 mm

Woman leads a cow, a man works with plow. Village in the background. Simple composition and "raw" technique in warm colors.

Mijo Kovačić, the youngest of five children, was born on 5 August 1935 in the Podravina hamlet of Gornja Šuma, several kilometres from Molve and Hlebine. A delicate boy, Mijo spent his childhood close to his mother Ana, who passed on her imaginative strain to her son: she enriched and developed Mijo’s fancy with folk, often scary stories, which left an indelible mark on the boy. For four years Mijo attended the primary school in Molve. The daily seven kilometres which he covered on foot were not only a phase of his “accommodation to society” but also a special kind of education “in nature’s great classroom”, in which he won mastery of plant and animal life, anatomy and all other rural “courses”. In that “academy” he only had to fine-tune his painting skill. Mijo’s childhood was melancholic. In 1953, a crucial year, the eighteen-year-old peasant from Gornja Šuma first heard of Krsto Hegedušić and Ivan Generalić. Hegedušić was out of reach in faraway Zagreb, but Ivan Generalić lived in nearby Hlebine.The meeting with Generalić was not as crucial as a “school lesson” as an encouraging example: he met an uneducated peasant who had become a painter famous throughout the world! Kovačić’s wisdom did not ask for more. Thus started his long study in the “academy” of a peasant yard in Gornja Šuma. It was indeed a course of study in which the self-taught artist won the highest degree, supreme mastery. In that “academy” Kovačić was both student and teacher. Kovačić faced the great masters and their work boldly and, more often than not, with great self-confidence. “The great masters could not sway me, they observed their people and their landscapes in their own time just as I observed them in mine”, he emphasized. He “reads” them with passion and pleasure, discovers in them everything he had to discover on his own in his “academy” in Gornja Šuma where he still lives and works.

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