Manitou's Gift

Viera Bombová (1932-2005) was a master of the dreamlike Slovak book illustrations of the 60s and 70s. Of this poetic surrealism assimilating many elements of archaic and folk art, a main source was Vincent Hložník who in the 1950s educated at the Bratislava art school a great generation of young illustrators – we will also publish from their graphics. This trend certainly appeared at that time also in the Slovak art life, at exhibitions and galleries, in albums and on the walls of the homes of intellectuals, but we know little about it. What reached out to us were mostly the book illustrations, thanks to the publishing industry of the period which supported ex officio the mutual translation of the products of the brotherly Socialist countries.

Bombová’s most richly illustrated work is the collection of Slovak folk tales Janko Gondášik (Swine herdsman Janko) compiled at the turn of the century by Samo Czambel, whose pictures – we will also publish them soon – often remind you of the paintings of Lajos Vajda or Endre Bálint working at the same time on the other, Hungarian side of the Danube. The elements of Slovak folk art appear naturally on these images, and later, curiously, they mix just as naturally in the American Native or Pacific motifs in the folk tale books of the respective people.

Manitou ajándéka. Indián mesék (Manitou’s Gift. Native American folk tales),
Bratislava-Budapest, 1968

Joseph Bruchac:
Ellis Island

Beyond the red bricks of Ellis Island
where the two Slovak children
who became my grandparents
waited the long days of quarantine,
after leaving the sickness,
the old Empires of Europe,
a Circle Line ship slips easily
on its way to the island
of the tall woman, green
as dreams of forests and meadows
waiting for those who’d worked
a thousand years
yet never owned their own
Like millions of others,
I too come to this island,
nine decades the answerer
of dreams

Yet only one part of my blood
loves that memory.
Another voice speaks
of native lands
within this nation.
Lands invaded
when the earth became owned.
Lands of those who followed
the changing Moon,
knowledge of seasons
in their veins.

(The Remembered Land. An Anthology of Contemporary Native American Literature, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1993)

3 comentarios:

Studiolum dijo...

50 Watts (formerly Journey around My Skull) has a presentation of Viera Bombová, with beautiful illustrations from her Janko Gondášik.

Will dijo...

I just heard from Viera's niece. The artist is still very much alive and working! I'm very sorry for spreading misinformation that she died in 2005. I have no idea where I got that date, which is very embarrassing. So, please update your post as I did mine.

Studiolum dijo...

I’m happy to hear that! This means, she will live for long… However, I clearly remember of having taken the date of her death from a Slovak catalog, so the source of misinformation must lay somewhere in her own country. Look here, a Slovak art gallery also advertises her works with the same year of her death!