Mikuláš Galanda was born to parents Margita and Štefan Galanda on May 4, 1895. They were hardworking people who were not rich nor starving either. Besides Mikuláš, they had three other children. Before 1911, when he developed suppurative tonsillitis with serious complications, Mikuláš lived a happy student's life. Today, it is hard to understand that the amputation of a leg was the only life-saving solution for him, anyhow the condition left him confined to bed for a long time. For the sensitive Mikuláš, who had a talent for visual arts already at that time, it meant the end of his carefree boyhood. After graduating from a high school, Mikuláš decided to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest; but due to the outbreak of the First World War, his studies lasted just 2 years.
Hárman (1919) by Mikuláš GalandaTuriec Gallery
Because of the war, Mikuláš was forced to return home to Turčianske Teplice where he started to work for his father. He did not lose his interest in arts in the changed situation either. Three issues of the monthly entitled Hárman published by the Galanda brothers in 1919, illustrated by Mikuláš himself, testify to the aforesaid.
Hárman (1919) by Mikuláš GalandaTuriec Gallery
Besides Art Nouveau characteristic features, illustrations in Hárman magazine engage attention by fine, sensitively rendered lines that were to be characteristic for Galanda's future works.
Portrait of Mária Galandová (1930 - 1932) by Mikuláš GalandaTuriec Gallery
From 1922 to 1927, Mikuláš Galanda studied in Prague, at first at an arts and crafts school and a year later he moved to the Academy of Fine Arts. He also commuted to Prague in 1928 when studying to gain a teaching qualification. And it was that time when he met Mária Boudová whom he also married 4 years later. Thus Mikuláš created basic existential, personal and social preconditions for him to apply himself to teaching and artistic work.
Beginning in 1932, among Galanda's works we can find works that undoubtedly reflect his mind. These are the pictures “Morning (Pink Nude)”, “Standing Female Nude”, “Song”, “Mother (standing)”, “Mother (sitting)”—all of these are oils with a tinge of pink originating the same year presenting an expression of Mikuláš's personal human happiness, enchantment with women's beauty, love and motherhood. In the depository of the Turiec Gallery in Martin, only one of them can be found—”A Song”.
In 1932-33, the pictures indicating perception in the broader contexts were also created, going beyond the artist's personality. Most of Galanda's pictures from 1932 /the so-called Pink Period/, is painted over the neutral background. As soon as the pictures of bandits or lumberjacks appear, the backgrounds of the pictures change. The background of mountain hills rises behind the figures' backs. The theme logically implies it, and it is evidenced by the artist's interest in and relationship to the landscape and also its artistic depiction.
Thorough drawing preparation preceded the production of all of Galanda's oil paintings.
Bandits (1932 - 1933) by Mikuláš GalandaTuriec Gallery
Hills and nature in the background of the figures of bandits indicate Mikuláš's interest in depicting landscape.
The theme of a woman in the works by Galanda
Image of woman takes a prominent place in Galanda's works. It is interesting comparing to the image of a woman in the history of visual arts, mainly considering Slovak art. Galanda was seizing the image through both the poetry and the prose of his life, with admiration, love, pride and human dignity. From the beauty of youth to motherhood and growing to maturity.
The beauty of young women in the works by Galanda.
Maturity of a woman reaching its height in motherhood.
Senescence (1937) by Mikuláš GalandaTuriec Gallery
In isolated instances, the artist touched even the final stage of women's lives—the old age. The other half of women's fate did not take a significant place in his works, even though he was aware of women's situation. He did not manage to feel it as much as he felt the beauty of the young, mainly maternity, although the fate did not let him have his own offspring.
Welfare subject in the Galanda's works
In the 1930s, despite significant time spent teaching, Mikuláš Galanda created his most important works in painting, graphics, drawing and book illustration. He moved from the classicizing orientation of the 1920s to the dynamically, dramatically rendered brushwork in all the areas of fine arts. Thematically, his works are focused mainly on the motifs of woman and motherhood, but he also touched several social problems of Slovak people, which he cared about. In Galanda's works we can find pictures of poor families, beggars, street singers, blind persons, bandits, clowns, emigrants...
Except the drawn self-portrait from 1930. Galanda painted two pictures that are not self-portraits in the proper sense of the word, but he inserted much of his lyrical spiritual essence in them, i.e. a sort of spiritual self-portrait. These are the pictures - “Painter” (1934) and “Poet Having a Rest” (1937-1938).
Poet (1937 - 1938) by Mikuláš GalandaTuriec Gallery
The end of Galanda's life
Although the teaching took much of his time, Galanda managed to fulfil his creative program of an artist. Mainly the last year of his life was really full of intensive creative activity. As if the artist anticipated that his creative peace was not to last for long. Mikuláš Galanda died in Bratislava on June 5, 1938, 43-year-old. His work presented and has been presenting many new, hot issues for the whole generations. The greatest importance of Galanda's artistic legacy lies in the fact that it brought up, opened and tried to solve many serious creative-development problems, which can be found in the works of almost every visual artist.
In the final period of his life, Galanda produced several gouaches of female heads and planned to stage a special exhibition of them. He was very curious how the public was going to respond to them.
Mgr. Zita Kostrová