Depictors of Imagination (Upodobljevalke domišljije)


The exhibition Depictors of Imagination is an all-embracing review of original illustrations by 28 Slovene women artists. It was conceived in order to point out the continuity of women’s creativity in illustration. Biographical details and background on a number of these illustrators could not be ascertained, but nevertheless their inclusion in this exhibition provides an introduction to generations which have employed a great many approaches as regards content, style and technical perspectives. 

Early 20th-century artists, such as Ivana Kobilca, Roza Strnen Klein and Mara Kralj, were involved in illustration during an era when males were predominant in all forms and aspects of painting, while the works produced were mainly intended for an adult audience. But after the Second World War, illustration became a part of the new socialist education concept, and as such was aimed in particular at children. This period was also characterised by a decisive shift to the specialised profession of ‘illustrator’, as well as a significant increase in the number of women engaged in it. Dealing with children was considered women's work, and the increasing number of women artists may well be related to the new educational function of illustration. At the same time an ever-growing marginalisation of illustration within fine art can also be perceived, which is most likely to be attributed to limitations imposed by the medium itself (specific relation to text, and the fact that it is more difficult to pursue modernist principles of autonomous artistic expression in illustration), as well as the ‘feminisation’ of the profession. At the same time, however, it is due to these very same characteristics – and the direct relation with the client – that illustration has become a field of fine art that provides artists with the opportunity to be creative, whilst at the same time affording them financial security.

Some of the most interesting post-WWII women painters were very much involved in illustration, and their works exhibit extraordinary artistic intuition. The generation of artists who introduced the language of modernism into children’s literature, enriching it with wonderful sensibility, humour, and - on occasions - also sharpness, was followed by artists who – due to their specific distinctive traits – became recognised as the Ljubljana School of Illustration. In Slovenia they are known as the “women fairytalers”, and in addition to gaining international acclaim provided the bedrock for further development of illustration in Slovenia. Their work harks back to realistic or idealised depiction, and the creation of worlds in which childhood is a dreamtime, something that also makes them appealing to adults. While younger generations of female illustrators are – on the one hand – strongly influenced by the success of the “women fairytalers”, they nevertheless courageously engage in experimentation. Some reintroduce the abstract expression of high modernism, others flirt with pop culture and principles of design, whilst a few have extended the art of drawing into an undreamed-of realm of subtlety.
Tanja Mastnak


During the exhibition daily at 3.30 pm:
Documentary portraits of illustrators from the TV SLO Archive

Tuesday, 3 rd Oct, 5 pm:
A Twopence of Imagination by Radio Študent: Fairy tales reading for children

Wednesday, 4 th Oct and Tuesday, 10 th Oct; 5 pm:
Screening of animated films by Slovene women artists

Sunday, 8 th October, 3 pm:
Guided tour for children by two young illustrators

Sunday, 8 th October, 4.30 pm:
Presentation of artist books by Irena Pivka and Kiki Omerzel, and discussion with the authors moderated by Tanja Mastnak

Women painters and illustrators:
Suzi Bricelj, Mojca Cerjak, Jelka Godec Schmidt, Zdenka Golob, Ančka Gošnik Godec, Marjanca Jemec Božič, Ana Košir, Maša Kozjek, Kristina Krhin, Polona Lovšin, Irena Majcen, Mojca Osojnik, Lidija Osterc, Andreja Peklar, Roža Piščanec, Lilijana Praprotnik Zupančič, Ana Razpotnik Donati, Jelka Reichman, Alenka Sottler, Marija Lucija Stupica, Marlenka Stupica, Maja Šubic, Petra Varl, Alenka Vogelnik, Marija Vogelnik, Kamila Volčanšek, Melita Vovk, Dunja Zupančič (Slovenia)

Upodobljevalke domišljije / Depictors of Imagination
Exhibition of illustrations and artist books
Slovenski etnografski muzej: Oct 1 –10, 10 am – 6 pm (Saturday Oct 7: CLOSED!, Sunday, Oct 8: 1 pm – 6 pm)

Concept and realisation of exhibition: Alenka Veler, Tanja Mastnak, Dunja Kukovec; concept of exhibition-related events: Alenka Veler, Petra Slatinšek

Organisation and production: City of Women
In collaboration with: Slovenski etnografski muzej
With the support of: Revija Ciciban, Pošta Slovenije, RTV Slovenija, Festival Animateka, Tipsi d.o.o.

Date and time of event: 
Oct 01st - Oct 08th
Place of event: 
Slovenski etnografski muzej