Martin Jonaš
(Kovačica, 1924 - 1996)

Martin Jonaš is one of the most significant authors in the world of naive art. He was born in 1924 in Kovačica, where he finished the elementary school, spent all of his working days and entire lifetime, working mostly as a farmer and an artist. He was the leading figure of the Kovačica naive art and one of the founders of the Gallery of naive art in Kovačica. He started to paint at age 21 and his first exhibition was in Kovačica. During his prolific and active work as an artist, he exhibited on more than 450 collective and solo exhibitions. He received many international art awards and keys to several European cities. At the Grand International drawing Exhibition in Italy in 1978, he won the Golden medal along with Salvador Dalí and Renato Guttuso.      

It all began in my early childhood. As a boy I was always hiding under father’s big table in our family house, listening to the conversations about hard work; I saw the hunger and poor harvest, but I learned a lot about the importance of happiness. That was my school (…), I remember well those heavy palms – hanging under the table, resting. I can see them until today, and I portray them constantly.   

The house of Martin Jonaš is a unique document of this artist’s life – the walls of the room in which he painted are covered with photographs, medals, and various diplomas. The shelves are filled with professional literature, folders with abundant correspondence, magazines, and newspapers from the whole world with written reports about the author – a valuable archive of articles and photographs. There is also a collection of paintings, historical documents, books, and old periodical literature related to the history of the Slovak community in Vojvodina. A collection of Jonaš paintings in the Gallery of naive art in Kovačica is outstanding as well.

Clearly and without unnecessary details, with my paintings, I want to say that two and two make four. To depict life and work, love and death, joy and pain as they actually are… I use shortcuts, skipping all the irrelevant things. Painting and drawing must exude artistic simplicity, even when it comes to the most complex situations and expressions. 

By his artistic philosophy and the strength of his specific and rich imagination, Jonaš built a unique artistic style beyond the borders of naive art. The main motives on his paintings are people, the farmers with their large, working hands and heavy feet, with small grotesque looking heads settled in the scenery of Slovak houses and fields. That is Jonaš specific presentation of the essence of life. A characteristic chronicle of the hard peasant life, painted with personal life experiences of the author.       

Martin Jonaš passed away in 1996 in Kovačica, he was buried in the local cemetery.

Martin Jonaš's artworks in the fund of Gallery of naive art:

  1. Observing eggs, 41×58, 1968, 1/568
  2. In front of the house, 35×52, 1970, 2/569
  3. Village bell, 35×52, 1967, 3/570
  4. My Kovačica, 48×68, 1969, 22/589
  5. A hardworking woman, 68×80, 1962, 23/590
  6. My school painted, 34×50, 1957, 56/623
  7. Kovačica process, 110×160, 1957, 57/624
  8. Cholera in Kovačica, 38×27, 1971, 58/625
  9. Scared horse, 48×53, 1972, 59/626
  10. Pig slaughter, 41×81, 1967, 80/647
  11. A game, 50×150, 1964, 110/667
  12. Returning from logging, 70×70, 1972, 111/678
  13. An enraged horse and sleigh, 60×100, 1977,112/679
  14. Crowning corn, 66×44, 1973, 113/680
  15. Going to the market, 37×61, 1969, 120/687
  16. Happy day, 70×54, 1977, 121
  17. In front of the sunflower, 66×60, 1978, 122
  18. Widow, 62×78, 1981, 124
  19. My happiness, 70×54, 1981, 155
  20. Caught, 59×42, 1986, 195
  21. Fruits and hands, 119×59, 1981, 228
  22. Banat obelisk, 105×41, 1988, 229
  23. Happiness, 101×41, 1988, 250
  24. Rest, 100×65, 1992, 305
  25. Gratitude, 68×50, 1990, 285
  26. Scarecrow, 67×40, 1990, 286
  27. Agreement, 50×36, 1993, 317
  28. Sunday, 62×34, 1994, 328