Miha Maleš's life

Academically qualified painter Miha Maleš was born on 6 January 1903 in Jeranovo near Kamnik, where his father owned a mill. He was first taught by F. Tončič in Kamnik, then he attended art school in Ljubljana, the sculptural department (1919–1921; Professors A. Repič and S. Šantel), later he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (1921–1923; painting department – Professors J. Kljaković, F. Kovačević, T. Krizman; sculptural department – Professor R. Valdec), private school in Vienna (1922; Professor L. Fröhlich) and in the end the special art college in Prague (1924–1927; Professors A. Brömse and F. Thiele).

After graduation he returned to Ljubljana and together with Stane Cuderman he held his first exhibition in the Jakopič Pavillion in Ljubljana. In the year 1928 he founded a group of artists, called ‘The Fourth Generation’ (O. Globočnik, N. Pirnat, Mira Pregelj, F. Pavlovec, J. Mežan) and he held several exhibitions with them. Then he collaborated in art group with G. A. Kos and F. Gorše and he presented his work by holding independent shows for domestic and foreign public (in Prague, Rome, Paris etc.). In the Modern Gallery in Ljubljana a retrospective exhibition was organized for him in 1974. In 1977 he received a Prešeren award for his life’s work and achievements. The hundredth anniversary of his birth was honoured with exhibitions in the Miha Maleš Gallery in Kamnik, Modern Gallery in Ljubljana and Pilon Gallery in Ajdovščina.

Miha Maleš travelled and held exhibitions at home and abroad, and he returned home with new ideas and suggestions for his drawing and painting (for instance from travelling around Western Europe in 1951 and a journey around Yugoslavia – Macedonia in 1948, ‘Adriatic motifs’ 1961).

He was occupied with journalism and publishing. He founded his own specialist publishing house in Ljubljana. There he published several graphic art portfolios and books with his own work and works of other artists, amongst which the most admired was the book ”Red lights or paintings about love” in 1929. He was art editor of the magazine “Illustration” and the editor of the first Slovene art magazine “Art”. In Ljubljana he opened an art shop, called “Art Salon”.

His life and work rank him among the most important Slovene artists of the 20th century and at the same time, along with Božidar Jakac, among the founders of Slovene graphic art. He was one of the leading artists who popularized art, and a prime organiser of many exhibitions. His world of art is distinguished for its elegance and easiness, linearity and lyrical mood of subjects and experiences taken from reality, which he formed into gentle love motifs, especially in his younger years. The youthful part of his opus was marked by lyrically perceptible expressionism, and was later replaced with the unique personal artistic language and peculiarly colourful realism. This sometimes tends towards over-simplification and stylisation, while remaining within the boundaries of recognisable subject. In the 1930s his black-and-white drawings and prints were enriched by many colourful mono-types and paintings. A brilliant set of portrait photographs originated from the period of Art Salon in 1930, when Maleš had a studio in Tivoli. Miha Maleš died on 24 June 1987 in Ljubljana.