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Ivan Kos and his Masterpiece Girl with an Orange
UGM Cabinet, Strossmayerjeva 6
21 December 2019 – 7 June 2020
opening: Saturday, 21 December 2019, 11:00

curator: Simona Vidmar
assisting curator: Mojca Štuhec

Ivan Kos (1895-1981) was one of the central painters in the 1920s and 1930s in Maribor. That time was a booming period and period of economic crisis at the time when the field of fine arts was finding its place in the city. As a young painter, he, along with others of his generation, ventured into the city's artistic work, bringing freshness to new artistic initiatives, and co-creating an exciting visual art scene. Also with the help of Ivan Kos, a new artistic community was born in Maribor, which wanted to keep up with the contemporary art streams of expressionism and new reality.

Ivan Kos started painting studies in Vienna, at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he was accepted the ground breaking 1918. One month after he started the academic year, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy collapsed and, along with other Slavic students, he as well was forced to leave Vienna. The following year he continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Prague in the 1920s was the city that formed the young painter: at the academy, he devoted himself to drawing and pencil, because he had no money for oil and canvas and connected with other Slovenian artists who studied in Prague at the time. Most important was his friendship with Ante Trstenjak, who introduced him to the mysteries of watercolour. He graduated in 1924 and returned to Maribor after graduation.

During his studies, he was already considered a promising young artist and as so, he exhibited at the First Art Exhibition in Maribor, which represented the beginning of the organized life of visual artists in the city. After his studies, he presented himself to the Maribor audience as part of the Youth Club with the artists Stiplovšek and Pirnat, and spent his life drawing portraits at the Dermatology Department of the Maribor Hospital. In 1925 he was given the post of Professor of Drawing at the Classic Gymnasium, where, with a brief interruption during the war, he remained until his retirement.

Girl With an Orange (1927) is a masterpiece of Ivan Kos and one of the most recognizable works from the collection of the Maribor Art Gallery. It is also the starting point for the exhibition, which presents the author primarily as a portrait painter. In the 1920s and 1930s, the author painted a series of portraits that, as the author's entire opus, range from coloristic approaches to academic practice, through sharp modelling of simplistic compositions of new reality to his own form of expressionist-imbued realism. In the late 1920s, when expressionism in Europe and here, became a more peaceful new reality, it was a time when his painting reached its peak. During this time, Ivan Kos painted some excellent portraits, characterized by compositional arrangement, emphasizing plasticity and a relatively modest colour palette, while showing a desire to delve deeper into the psyche of the painting model.

Special thanks to: Regional Archive, RTV Slovenia, University of Maribor – Department of Art History; dr. Polona Vidmar, dr. Katarina Mohar, Sara Hajdinac