Impressionists used painting outdoors to record the motif, weather and emotional impact of a scene. Among the Slovenian Impressionists who were most attentive to their inner expressions were Rihard Jakopič (1869–1943 and Ivan Grohar (1867–1911). Grohar, who at the turn of the centuries transformed from a Realist executor of commissions into a freelance artist, approached painting instinctively. Due to poverty and a scandal that resulted in his brief incarceration, he returned home to Gorenjska (Upper Carniola) in 1904 and worked there until the end of his life. Škofja Loka was the first Slovenian painting colony, where, besides Grohar, resided Jakopič and Matej Sternen (1870–1949). Matija Jama (1872–1947) lived aborad and stayed in touch through correspondence with Jakopič. The first decade of the new century was also the only prolonged period when all (living) Slovenian Impressionists regularly painted outdoors.
Grohar’s scenes from his native Gorenjska represent the apex of his painting. The artist did not simply copy nature but relived it as a vision put onto canvass. His selection of motifs and style were influenced by his Slovenian colleagues and by contemporary art currents from Vienna Secession to Divisionism of Giovanni Segantini. Grohar’s work can be traced from Škofja Loka and its environs to Železniki, Sorica, Koprivnik, Bohinj and Bled.
In his pictures we encounter Alpine landscape that was co-created by agriculture and forestry. Some of the images seem like intimate landscape interior, without clues as to the actual places of inspiration. Other works, probably painted with the art market in mind, show recognisable landscape. Some of the locations are today built-over, overgrown or inaccessible, but many can still be visited. Among them are the Town Square (Mestni trg) in Škofja Loka, which the painter captured from Homan’s House during a snowstorm, and Heblarje, where larches still grow next to Grohar’s homestead.
The National Gallery connected locations where Grohar worked into a circular route that can be completed by car in one long day. The route is part of the Impressionisms Routes, one of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe since 2018.
7 January–3 February 2021
National Gallery of Slovenia