Jože Tisnikar

The self-taught painter Jože Tisnikar (1928–1998) is one of the most recognised names of Slovenian modern painting after World War Two. He was born in 1928 in Mislinja pri Slovenj Gradcu. In 1951, he was employed as a medical orderly at the Slovenj Gradec hospital. It was there that, in 1955, he painted the first painting in his distinctive style, drawing the attention of Karel Pečko, an academy-trained painter and the director of the Art Pavilion in Slovenj Gradec at the time, who thereafter actively encouraged Tisnikar on his exciting artistic path. In the following years, the hospital environment, especially the traumatic atmosphere of the Department of Pathology, where he worked as an autopsy assistant, shaped his special and recognisable graphic world. In 1958, he had his first solo exhibition, and in 1963 his works were first exhibited abroad (in Austria). In 1969, he received the Prešeren Fund Award for his works exhibited in that year. In the following decades, he became established on the Slovenian and the international fine arts scene.

Despite his lack of a classical education in painting, his devotion to creation and his instinctive commitment to the selected motifs accompanied by an astounding technological knowledge gave rise to images that are perfect in their own special way. Jože Tisnikar’s life ended in 1998 in a tragic traffic accident precisely when he experienced the greatest triumph of his art with a big retrospective exhibition mounted upon his seventieth birthday at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška (KGLU) in Slovenj Gradec. But even afterwards his peculiar, unrepeatable and unimitative graphic story of a bitter groping for the final truths of human existence remained an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the conception of new projects.