Collection: Mara Puškarić-Petras

Mara Puskaric-Petras (1903 Novigrad Podravski, Croatia – 1998).

All artworks are from my private, Generalic family collection, first hand, no galleries involved, direct sale, available immediately.

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Catalogue with biography, 1979

“The poetic world of Mara Puškarić stands as a separate chapter within the naive painting of Podravina. Nothing here was created with so little pretense, and gave so many results as this painting. It started back in the mid-50s with a few completely optional patterns on the lid of the “box” in helping her granddaughter do her homework. These drawings and watercolors, of course, do not have the weight of real painting, but are only indicative when considering the genesis, approximately in the sense that the first sketches of Generalić and Mraz had. Only when these games are noticed or the first stimulating advice is given (as in the case of the first painters, Hegedušić’s advice, or in Virius’s, teacher Franjić’s instructions) can more serious works appear as a form of accepting one’s own attempts, therefore, in terms of encouragement from the merits, as an awareness of one’s own result. That happened to Puškarić in 1963. She posted one of her “pictures” in the cellar where Ivan Generalić once came and saw the attempt. At his urging, Mara painted four paintings on hardboard (three of which exist) with wall paints mixed with varnish and a cowhair brush. These paintings also define the important thematic features of her entire oeuvre: the motif of the homeland, which is presented as it is in the poetic interpretation of a sensitive rural housewife. There is no sensation, nothing that would point to the indication of these everyday simple-minded events that make up the life and event fragmentary of her world: subtle descriptions of rural landscapes, customs and works, weddings and forgiveness, games and meetings, “genre” scenes of family festivities and receptions. Formally, these first works are still on the border of the typical amateur discrepancy between intention and realization. The emotional ecstasy that is a prerequisite in shaping clashes with manual clumsiness and stops at a lack of discursive thinking. The painting is truly only an effort to register the world, not the result of one’s own relationship that would manifest itself during the work and through the final realization. So he stops on a road that is a dead end for many. However, Mara Puškarić will soon build on this amateurism with her own style, a special lyrical relationship to the world and an evident effort to build the picture analytically as a set of “living” elements, and not as a neutral observation.

Immediately after “Maltarić’s Cellar” (1963), several compositions were created that express a completely different understanding of the presentation and especially the relationship between details and the whole. If in the given picture the arrangement of elements, their mutual relation and meaning is irrelevant to the structuring of the whole, then already on “Boy with a dog” these coordinates are subordinated to each other so that on “Spring” all these elements get their specific meaning on each fragment of the picture. . With this composition, Mara Puškarić “becomes” a naive artist whose creative charge is noticeable in every detail, in compositional arrangement, in perspective profiling, in meticulous coloristic processing, in sensible variation of motifs, in that specific “pointillist” precision that she certainly carries within herself. and handmade mar (she was an excellent embroiderer for a long time). Everything that emerges after that carries within it, more or less, the marks conceived in this little picture. Of course, there will be downturns, hasty works, loss of embers (especially in several winter landscapes from 1973, when a tribute to the current hyperproduction will be felt).

In 1964, her first “cycle” was created – from yarn to canvas. although the stimulus was obtained from the side and directed towards superficial thematic effectiveness, these works showed several new fresh elements (the human body as the dominant motif, for example), but also poorer results in the possibility of interior design. After that, Puškarić will most often remain tied to the landscape, so that occasional episodes with painting the interior will most often bother her. The pre-infantilism of the expression will be the main reason here.

In the following years, the cycles will work less frequently, but they will continue with variations on similar themes – all the way to paroxysms. Namely, as some of her dear paintings went away, she will be able to restore the same motif for a while (almost in detail). This feeling of sentimentality towards one’s own work is usually common in naive art, although it can usually be considered a simple lack of inspiration. In Mare, however, this detail is explained differently from sentiment. The motif of the Novigrad “Tower”, for example (devastated about 30 years ago), which she took in 7-8 cases, also has the symbolic function of a silent witness. Everything that happened in Novigrad Podravski happened in front of and around the “Tower”: weddings, funerals, parties, trials, all this is situated in front of this village building. This trademark of her village of youth was not bypassed even in the case of Matija Gubac, whom she worked for “Gubeciana” by Gerhard Ledić.

If Puškarić painted spontaneously, not for any conjunctural reasons typical of that time, not even knowing about the existence of some “bread school”, and especially not about the stylistics of that school, if Generalić was the first regulation of her work, then Ledić was the first who (as, after all, in the case of many creators from the Podravina basin) gave the necessary dose of “critical” encouragement and the necessary scale of self-confidence, and finally announced its existence and name.

Thus, around 1965, she began to be mentioned as a painter from Podravina. He has not exhibited for three years, although at that time he was already known in the circles of gallerists and critics for this painting.

She had her first public presentations of her paintings in 1969 in Novigrad as part of the exhibition “Our Podravina” and in Hlebine, and already in 1970 a solo exhibition was held in Zagreb, where she exhibited 25 paintings. To date, she has had about 34 exhibitions (about, because it is impossible to make a detailed description) and has painted more than 150 paintings.

Mara Puškarić appeared at a time when the so-called The 3rd generation of naive people from Podravina formulates their expression on the trail, and often on the impersonal variation of the stylistics of the “bread school”. It does not paint on glass, it has no touching or inspiring connections with that morphology, it does not exalt coloristically or banalize in an Arcadian manner. She is her own, as are her and all the separate painting-poetic worlds in our naive art.

Really painting only in her 60s, she captured the world of her youth with “pure marvels of astonishment”. by quietly chanting past events in a way that betrays a sensitive soul and a woman’s dream, Puškarić brought quiet joy into canonized stereotyping.

This Grandma Moses from Podravina (as some called her, comparing her to an American naive painter who also painted in those late years and had a similar – albeit less poetic – motif) puts together her world woven of flowers that still grow in the garden of her youth. , in the patriarchal arcade of her Novigrad.

According to her work so far, she is certainly one of the most distinctive painters in our naive art, and according to certain achievements (“lgre s rodama”, “Kupačica”, “Kupači” and especially “Koturaši”) she is also the best.

Marijan Spoljar” *

* Translated by Google translator