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Bosiljka Kićevac

Bosiljka Kićevac, was an outstanding individual within our national culture, who created a significant body of works in the field of illustration - her primary artistic orientation. Her creative span, however, included painting, printmaking, textile design, and applied graphics. She illustrated 187 books and magazines for children and youth, creating a unique artistic style, with a recognizable harmony of visual presentation and narrative. As the art historian Gordana Popović Vasić wrote, “Bosiljka Kićevac's oeuvre is based on a strong artistic sensibility which is most prominent in her paintings. This kind of artistic expression experienced its full affirmation, meaning and significance in the field of illustration, evolving from "stylization" through narration to animation, and a more expressive understanding of form, which is especially apparent in her black and white drawings and linocuts.” From 1960, her practice became deeply devoted to illustration, a discipline largely marginalized at the time. Along with several other artists (Žika Kovacević, Đorđe Milanović, Ljubica Cuca Sokić, Marko Krsmanović, and others), she started researching various techniques and building her own artistic stance.


Bosiljka Kićevac, Self-portrait, 1953;
Bosiljka Kićevac and Boško Karanović, 1996, photo by: Dragiša Radulović

As a prominent member of the Graphic Collective, Bosiljka Kićevac organized three solo exhibitions in this Gallery - in 1959, 1981, and 2010. Through these exhibitions one can follow her creative preoccupations. In her visual concept, the artist established a lively dialogue with the literary template, very often as part of various editions - educational programs, one of the favorite and emblematic features that shaped the visual and aesthetic paradigms of many generations.

The debut exhibition of paintings by Bosiljka Kićevac was held in 1959 in the Graphic Collective; the positive reviews in the newspaper “Borba” assessed her work as simple and harmonious, and these determinants can still be read today as a kind of anticipation of her entire oeuvre. Reminiscing on the event, the artist said: “I was preparing the first exhibition with a lot of anxiety and doubt. In the Gallery of the Graphic Collective ... Vasa Mihić gave me his time slot… Peđa taught me how to make beautiful mounts... On March 20, 1959, the exhibition was opened. A lot of folks came to the opening, I even sold three paintings... The reviews in “Borba” came out, all positive and true, under the title "Harmonious and simple", which was quite appropriate. There was no avant-garde, and no one expected it from me. A famous writer told me jokingly : “Don't hide in the back room, stand among your paintings, they are beautiful.”

Invitation for the exhibition of Bosiljka Kićevac "While there are Heads there will be Hats", the Graphic Collective Gallery, March 1981;



Bosiljka Kićevac "While there are Heads there will be Hats", bibliophilic edition, linocuts-silkscreens

Two decades later, in March 1981, the bibliophile edition "While there are Heads there will be Hats" was displayed - a series of 25 linocuts uniquely illustrating selected proverbs of Vuk Karadžić, published by a house bearing his name. The series was an exquisite example of a true bibliophilic approach to an illustrated book in our region. In the text that accompanied the sprint series, Duško Radović wrote:

“All important truths are short, clear and long-lasting. They ripen as fruit on the great tree of human experience and knowledge, and they are our only true heritage. They are the popular and practical spiritual social standard of the people, the basic intellectual and moral tool with which each new generation begins its life struggle. Folk wisdom is, like mathematics, poetry of a higher order, because their metaphors are formulas of general laws. The ancient and wise traditional proverb stands as an epitaph to every failure, every delusion and lie. That graveyard is the largest and most obvious school of the people. The diligent and engaged Bosiljka Kićevac made an album of linocuts of selected proverbs, in an attempt to contribute to their glory and application in her own way. And the publishing house “Vuk Karadžic” erected another monument to Vuk with this book, whose beautiful and short name has also become a metaphor for everything that is wise, important and lasting.”

Video of the opening of the Bosiljka Kićevac's exhibition "Early Works", the Graphic Collective Gallery, 15. March 2010; video by: Aleksandar Zlatanović




Bosiljka Kićevac, Drawings 1957-1959.

At the exhibition "Early Works" held in March 2010, five decades after the first solo exhibition, a selection of drawings from her “pre-illustration” period was displayed; around a hundred early works created between 1957 and 1959 were exhibited for the first time, and their poetic features indicated a sincere enthusiasm, a strong desire to create, and a dedication to work. These autobiographically intoned art sequences were created during a period of “recording and admiring the world”, of capturing the atmosphere and situations from travels to Dubrovnik, Brač, Paris, Munich and Vienna... Cityscapes, views of the Kalemegdan fortress, seaside landscapes, Dubrovnik Summer Games, and views from Kolarac were typical motifs, and the spilled tones of ink wash and stain, light pen drawings and wide brush strokes, represented scenes soaked in the atmosphere, impressions "captured" in the moment.

On the evening of the exhibition opening, a promotion of Bosiljka Kićevac's autobiographical books “I'm talking” and “I'm talking further” was held in the hall of the “Majestic” Hotel. Svetlana Bojković, Žarko Trebješanin, Dejan Čavić, Gordana Popović Vasić, Aleksandar Ajzinberg and the artist herself spoke at the event.





Photos of the opening of the Bosiljka Kićevac's exhibition, Drawings 1957-1959, the Graphic Collective Gallery, 15. March 2010.

Bosiljka Kićevac (1932-2016, Belgrade), graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in 1956, where she also completed postgraduate studies in 1958. Member of ULUPUDS (Association of Fine Artists of Applied Arts and Designers of Serbia). She has organized more than 20 solo exhibitions, as well as a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts in 1996, on the occasion of marking 40 years of artistic work. She has exhibited at national and international exhibitions Golden Pen of Belgrade, October Salon, May Salons ULUPUDS, International Exhibition in Bologna, BIB Illustration Exhibition in Bratislava, Graphics Exhibition in Brno, Leipzig Book Fair, international and Yugoslav exhibitions in Japan, Bulgaria Sweden, Russia, China, Korea, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Great Britain, France. Among the awards, the October Salon Award in 1968, the Politika Award from the Vladislav Ribnikar Fund in 1976, as well as the 1996 Vuk's Endowment Award stand out.

Translation from Serbian: Dunja Karanović



Graphic Collective Gallery, Dragoslava Jovanovića 11, Belgrade, Weekdays 12 - 20h, Saturdays 12 - 17h, Sundays closed
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