Photo: A Walk Through Naive Art in Hlebine

It’s always a good idea to visit the birthplace of Croatian naive art, but last weekend in August makes it absolutely perfect. That’s when an immersive event called Walk Through Hlebine takes place. This August, the village was as colourful and friendly as can be.

Yes, a village. The most famous Croatian art movement comes from a village, where a group of authors started an art movement, world-known as Hlebine School, famous for the difficult technique of painting with oil on glass.

Gallery Josip Generalić in Hlebine – Marijana Generalić explaining how the painting is created.

If you don’t know much about art techniques, you’ve probably gone through the previous sentence without thinking about it much. If you’ve ever seen the photos of naive art somewhere in the brochures, you might even feel a certain repulsion towards the painted characters. When I was a kid, I was literally afraid of them. They were staring at me from the walls, with their big bare feet like Hobbits, always chopping the woods or working in fields – there is always an intimidating tool in their hands, someone with a scary wrinkled face and a hat that’s too small is binge-drinking straight from a huge jug and there’s a tiny forest in the back with no leaves because it’s winter, but it looks like it burned in flames… I was terrified of those paintings, to tell you the truth.

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1StarCroatia – Džamonja Sculpture Park in Vrsar

A few statues in the park.

Not enough sculptures and not impressive enough. You know what? Don’t even bother visiting Dušan Džamonja Sculpture Park near Vrsar. This used to be a property of an avantguard artist of global importance. When they opened a sculpture park in the memorial space that the artist had created himself, they should have thought about people who don’t dig symbolic art, right? Not everyone is an art freak but anyone can leave a Tripadvisor review – guess they didn’t really consider that, huh?

Now, seriously, what can be interesting about visiting a place an artist envisioned for himself? To walk around a vast serene location decorated with more than 20 of his amazing sculptures (amazing only if you’re into that sort of “art”), and imagining the artist working on each of the pieces, while envisioning its perfect location and designing the next piece. At the same time, he was busy reading all the art critics who praised him as the greatest symbolist of his time. Sounds extremely boring, let’s not bother.