Stane Kregar (1905–1973) was one of the prominent Slovene painters of the last century, not only because of his extensive and high-quality body of work with which he made a pioneering step into the Slovene world of art, but also as a highly knowledgeable authority and an organizer who was highly regarded and respected. He worked in numerous art techniques: on paper (pencil, charcoal, tempera, gouache) and on canvas (oil), he made work in the monumental painting techniques (frescoe, mosaic, sgraffito, stained glass) and planned decorative art products (tapestry, embroidery, intarsia).
He was educated at the Diocesan Classical Grammar School at the St Stanislaus Institute in Šentvid. He then went on to complete his studies of Theology and was ordained a priest, finishing his studies in Painting at Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1935. When he returned to Ljubljana, he taught Drawing at the Diocesan Classical Grammar School. He became an independent artist and stopped teaching after the grammar school was closed at the end of the Second World War. He took part in various art movements, and was also a founding member of the Neodvisni Art Club (The Independents) in 1937. Various stylistic directions can be found in his oeuvre as follows: surrealism, poetic realism, abstraction and new figuration. He was a pioneer of surrealism and abstraction, and when in 1953 he exhibited his abstract works for the first time at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, he triggered a wave of (political) opposition, but he bravely insisted and became the founder of a new era of high modernism in Slovene art. Kregar’s work is characterized by a lyricism, whereas colour represents the main bearer of the message. Kregar’s colours are strong but muted at the same time; the artist is considered to be one of the greatest Slovene colourists. The stylistic stages of Kregar’s art seem diverse at first glance, yet they are connected by a common thread, which is poetry and longing in conjunction with the broad humanistic perception of the world. Namely, he showed a specific social engagement in his work and also depicted topical world events, which have since become part of history.
Along with his secular oeuvre, his religious art is also important since he was the greatest church painter of the second half of the 20th century and furnished around a hundred churches across Slovenia with his oil paintings, frescoes, mosaics, sgraffiti, stained-glass windows, drafts for tapestries as well as church embroideries. Especially important was his collaboration with architect Tone Bitenc, Plečnik’s last assistant, who was drawing up plans for new churches in Dražgoše, Idrija, Poljane nad Škofjo Loko and Koseze in Ljubljana, as well as the chapel of theSeminary in Ljubljana, and renovated many others, whereas Kregar took full care of the artistic aspect. In his church works, Kregar joined the Eastern and Western Christian tradition, he added to his own modernist style with elements of medieval art and the large ecclesiastical pieces of the European modernists, while his works are not narrative but idealistic, with a strong use of iconographic symbols and colours.
The memorial exhibition on the fortieth anniversary of his death represents all of Kregar’s stylistic periods and significant artworks. The works for the exhibition were loaned by the Stane Kregar Gallery of the St Stanislaus Institute, Velenje Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, the National Gallery of Slovenia, church institutions and individuals. The National Gallery of Slovenia owns the third largest collection of Kregar’s works, with some artworks being displayed for the first time. On exhibition are oils on canvas and drawings. Due to the nature of monumental painting, the church pieces are presented as photographs and sketches, whereas the show also includes a selection of book illustrations, a film on his stained glass windows, as well as programmes on Stane Kregar from the Documentation of Television Slovenia.
Author of the exhibition and texts
Project leaders and editors of the printed material
Alenka Simončič and Mateja Krapež
Exhibition set up and graphic design
Restoration-conservation advice on textiles
Gojka Pajagič Bregar, National Museum of Slovenia
Microscopy of textile fibres
Jana Rozman, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Department of Textiles
Marko Cafnik and Luka Hribar
The artworks were loaned by:
Archdiocese of Ljubljana; Diocesan Parish of St Nicholas, Ljubljana ; Jelinčič family; Ljubljana Ježica Parish; Ljubljana Šiška Parish; Marjan Smerke; Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana – City Museum of Ljubljana; Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana; National Gallery of Slovenia; Parish of the Annunciation, Ljubljana; Poljane nad Škofja Loka Parish; private owners; Rakek Parish; Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of the Interior; Roman Brunšek; School Sisters of St Francis of Christ the King, Maribor; Seminary of Ljubljana; St Stanislaus Institute, Stane Kregar Gallery; Velenje Gallery; Videm – Dobrepolje Parish
The project was supported by:
Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia
6 February–5 May 2013
National Gallery of Slovenia
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia