Mirko Virius

Oct 28, 1889 - 1943

Mirko Virius was a Croatian naïve painter. He was one of the three most prominent members of the first generation of the Hlebine School.
Virius was born in the village of Đelekovec near Koprivnica, where he completed four years of primary school. In the First World War, he fought as an Austro-Hungarian soldier in Galicia. He was captured by Russians and made a forced laborer in Kiev, Kharkiv and the Ekaterinoslav iron plant.
He returned from Russia in the spring of 1918 and remained in Zagreb until the war ended. Virius then went home to Đelekovec, where he lived in penury and married a war widow with two children. He became a member of the progressive peasant movement, led by the Croatian Peasant Party. In 1936, the writer Mihovil Pavlek Miškina introduced him to the painters from Hlebine, Ivan Generalić and Franjo Mraz. They were the first generation of the Croatian naïve art movement, the Hlebine School.
Virius was a self-taught painter, who started painting late in life. In just three years he created an impressive body of work. He participated in the First Exhibition of Peasant Painters in Zagreb. Virius started with drawings and later made watercolors and oils.
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