Olivera Smiljkovic

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Fields, vineyards, forests; nature come to life as colours and shapes take form on canvas. Rolling Landscapes and abundant Still Life are two themes the artist Olivera Smiljkovic iterates on.



The birth of modern art did not herald the arrival of naive art, but it has contributed to its recognition and the acceptance of its existence.
The twentieth century was the era of great experimentation. Within such experimentation, naive art should be considered to be a strong artistic element. It should, therefore, be accepted as an aspect of new artistic reality.

At the beginning of this millennium we acknowledge the presence of pluralism in almost every aspect of human creativity. Therefore, it is understandable that naive art, as an element of modern art, has been characterized by numerous pluralistic definitions. These include heterogeneous aspects of artistic expression, strong inner restlessness and poetic imagery (ie: rural, urban, surrealistic, marginal art, art-brut, outsider art ).

 It was eight years ago that Olivera Smiljkovic set of on her predestined journey inspired by her rich store of memories. This journey is both an artistic challenge and an adventure which until now has been looked up within her. She started painting as a result of close connections with the Museum of Naive Art in Jagodina (Yugoslavia) and valuable friendships with naive art painters, but primarily as a result of her personal sensibility and nostalgia for her home land.

Constantly trying to find appropriate forms of expression for her artistic perception, Olivera has succeeded in creating her own distinctive style…

…She paints with hedonistic exuberance, still lifes and interiors being the recurring theme of her paintings. Painting in this way she demonstrates a fine sense of color, texture, bold composition with the broad approach to the rendering of detail. As a result there emerges a sense of balance, crystal clarity and tranquility…

…The inner poetry which this painter possesses, influences her paintings which show a self-satisfied, joyful world, where there is no room for bitterness, sadness or sorrow…

Prof. Koviljka Smiljkovic, Art Critic
Olivera Smiljkovic catalogue 2002, Limassol – Cyprus

…Alongside her recognizable, subtle use of color, the artist paints an ancient monument of Serbian architecture that shines out of dense verdure as a symbol of our authenticity. It was thanks to her simplicity and clarity of composition as well as her harmonious use of color that the jury of the Ninth International Biennial of Naive Art decided to present her with an AWARD for her works displayed.

Marica Vlacevic, Senior Curator
Nineth Biennial of Naive Art, Catalogue, Museum of Naive Art, Jagodina, Yugoslavia, 1999

…In her paintings she depicts of beauty of quaint corners and interiors, old gates, fences and windows overgrown with Mediterranean vegetation. Inspired with lyricism and enlivened with vibrant colors, she does not leave us untouched, but rather transports us to a prettier, imaginary and siren world…

Glyn Hughes, Art Critic
The Cyprus Weekly, Cyprys, 17-23 May 2002

Olivera Smiljkovic’s debut into the world of fine arts has established the fact that this art form has received a new, authentic and strong representative. Many years ago, when Olivera first exhibited her work at the 8ht Naïve Art Biennial exhibition in Jagodina, it captivated attention of many. Her work was selected and highly praised by the jury of experts, which gave her encouragement and confidence to embark on the road of fine art. Her further affirmation was based on active participation in many group exhibitions, both local and international, as well as taking part in numerous Plein Airs.

After Olivera’s first autonomous exhibition, which took part one year ago, we are in the position to discover her new paintings in this second exhibition, where she revisits the old motives, further strengthening her unique artistic expression and expanding the palette within the chosen theme. While remaining faithful to her favorite landscapes, still lifes, interiors and ancient architecture of churches and monasteries, she emphasizes richness of detail, by careful selection of precisely those details that create the atmosphere of authenticity. Desire to bring back to life old ethnic objects and interiors are a result of childhood reminiscence of home and her grandmother’s village.

By painting vast cultivated landscapes, with rich vegetation and wheat fields, she expresses her hedonistic love of nature…

…By means of distinct artistic handwriting and achieved balance between details, the artist shows clarity of composition and feeling of perspective, space as well as colouristic sophistication…

…Coloring is always an essential part of the theme. Olivera’s lively palette ranges from the lightest tones to the deep and rich hues. This is especially visible in paintings inspired by monumental art of our monasteries, represented in recognizable architectural authenticity.

Her passion for structural description of form is distinctively noticeable in depiction of architectural details created by old masters. Diversity of shapes and natural colors fascinate by means of subtle gradation of ochre, white, dark brown and terracotta colored pigments. By painting medieval buildings in all their splendor and glory, Olivera reveals true depth of her emotions which, together with our national origin and roots, shine through beautiful facades. Immersed into undisturbed peace and greenery, they are the very symbol of our strength and empowering memory of our past.

Sky, water, foliage, stones are all joint in lovely harmony and original composition.

Olivera’s inner world and richness of her experience are revealed by colors and shapes coming to her paintings straight from her heart and taking us on a new artistic journey, full of beauty and adventures.

Prof. Koviljka Smiljkovic, Art Critic
Olivera Smiljkovic catalogue 2003, Limassol – Cyprus

… Warm and vibrant tones, with refined sensibility and feeling for harmony and rhythm give her paintings power beauty and durability.

Still life plays an important role in her artistic creations.

Products of the harvest, focusing on fruits using accentuated light to create full volumes.

Mediaeval buildings, monasteries rendered in recognizable architectural authenticity.

Glyn Hughes, Art Critic
The Cyprus Weekly. Cyprus, 2-8 May 2003

Despite the distinctive figurative expression, with a slight touch of geographic realism, the first impression of Olivera Smiljkovic’s paintings is that of an unusual, genuine joy. In the context of a very diverse range of contemporary art, these paintings have a way of appearing as a naïve, already encountered reality. Expressing the outside world by bringing out the unseen, inner beauty, highlighting details that suggest the possible entirety, presenting a fresh outlook and capturing the moment in time is always a great challenge for the artist.

Olivera’s paintings have quality, rarely seen in today’s art – a very romantic, almost renaissance fascination with real life. Beauty around and inside us, shines from her work with a genuine purity and a spontaneous bliss. Her artistic expression discretely brings out subtle feelings due to the purity of the color and the simplicity of lines. Maybe this is why her paintings seem so familiar, warm and intimate. The painter puts herself in a position of a careful observer who brings everything she sees and feels onto a canvas, showering the landscapes, details, objects, fruit, flowers, meadows, wilderness and buildings with a light of clean existence.

In Olivera’s paintings we discover expression of limitless creative energy, desire for love, and beauty of life that is happening here, at this very moment. Looking at Olivera’s landscapes bathing in sunshine, the diversity of juicy fruit and herbs, as well as other carefully chosen details, simply means enjoying life.

Messages can be interpreted differently, but they all remind the onlooker that journeys through unknown countryside and even through our daily life, offer vast and infinite wonders of the world. For those who know where to look, beauty is, in a way, the poetry of reality, which smiles at us from Olivera’s paintings, presenting us with a gift of the lost but recaptured paradise .

Prof. Milunka Mitrovic, Art Critic

“…Olivera’s paintings are beautiful evocations of nature in all its glory. Plants, flowers, fruits painted with a wonderful feeling for natural beauty.

There is detail but that detail never spoils the natural flow and rhythm of nature.

Her landscapes enfold warmth of nature and homes while her color is exceptional.

The beauty of nature is caught in splendid abundance uplifting the viewer into most positive splendours.”

Glyn Hughes, Art Critic
Cyprus, The Cyprus Weekly, April 4-10, 2008

“Olivera Smiljkovic proposes a new poetics of still lifes and landscapes, which she transcribes, with oil on canvas, in the unrestrained, blissful spontaneity of a fairy-tale naivete, grafted with a classical touch of harrmony and rhythm, that produces a distinct painterly idiom.

Her compositions are an invitation to a novel view of nature and a tribute of thanksgiving to Mother Earth, for the invaluable gifts of fecundity, portrayed in an endless array of crops, plants and flowers…

…Thought a meticulous study and a close observation, she evokes countless details of the natural world, employing several kinds of brushstroke to render the specificity and uniqueness of each of its constituent parts…

…A fascinating engendering of volumes, in an expanse of vineyards and plains in full bloom, imparts space with a sublime infinity and a transcendental ambience, creating an idyllic universe of euphoria and contemplative serenity, devoid of human presence and mundane harshness.”

Dr. Nadia Anaxagorou,
Director of the Cultural Services Municipality of Lemesos
Olivera Smiljkovic catalogue, April 2008

…This bowls of flowers and succulent fruits bring joy, beauty and great artistic accomplishment to our art scene….

Glyn Hughes, art critic
Cyprus, The Cyprus Weekly, May 15-21, 2009

Olivera Smiljkovic has set her own, very personal and recognizable style.

She puts forward a new visual poetics, turning landscapes into metaphysical spaces, imparting them with a divine luminosity that evokes a mood of contemplative calmness, and transforming her still lifes of fruit and flowers into portraits of natural organisms, analysed through a descriptive, penetrative lens that focuses each time on an unprecedented uniqueness and distinct identity, bringing to light the sublime beauty that stays unnoticed by the tired eye and remains forgotten in the grim, everyday routine.

Olivera proposes a reinvention of dull reality, taking us by the hand and getting us closely acquainted with a chromatic and schematic phantasmagoria, hidden in each infinitesimal component of cherries, pomegranate, peaches, quinces, poppy flowers, tulips, chrysanthemums and lilies. Dramatically staging them in pots and setting them against dark, bright or plain white backgrounds, she creates lyrical compositions where the crops of mother-earth become the inanimate protagonists in act that lend them both a monumentality and a soul, reverberating each time a different psychological and sentimental effect on the viewer, who is transposed to a sphere beyond the mundane and the ephemeral, into a world of transcendental rhythm and harmony, bliss and serenity.

Thank you Olivera for the beauty and magic you bring into our lives!

Dr. Nadia Anaxagorou, Director of Cultural Services
Municipality of Limassol, Cyprus

Olivera's style is original and we can certainly say that her brush strokes are generally realistic, and it is clear that the painter is mostly interested in nature on two levels and uses two motives:

Landscape and still life.

Still life in Olivera's paintings is reminiscent of the still life of Caravaggio (an Italian painter from Milan where he lived in the 16th century). Pure volume treatment with colours.

And indeed, many times in a complementary way, they actually are extremely warm contrasts and wonderful light.

Because of this, the shapes are compact and convincingly positioned in 3D space.

Interestingly, the landscapes depict an area of extraordinary depth and this applies to every inch of space.

In her still-life the view is always very close, as if the painter understood its close dialogue with the object she displayed and her view.

The compositions are solid, multi-symmetrical.

Certainly, colours and light play the most important role in the expression of my favourite painter Olivera.

Also interesting is the precise work and obvious mastery of technique that allows her art to paint details in a unique way.

Dr. Evros St Alexandrou, President of Coordinating Council of Limassol Cultural Organizations and General Consul of Slovenia in Cyprus