Nothing to see here. No scandal, no crazy artist-dies-in-rags-after-throwing-it-all-away. The short, bitter sweet story of Mikuláš Galanda (1895-1938) is one of honesty. In his short life Galanda did more than enough to become one of Slovakia’s most important modern art pioneers and propagators. He was a painter, an illustrator & a visual poet.
Nothing in his short life story is remarkable. Except of course his work. Especially the work he created so prolifically just before the end of his life. Perhaps he knew.
Born in the small town of Mala Vieska near Turčianske Teplice, he studied at Budapest’s Academy of Fine Arts from 1914 – 1916. In 1922 he enrolled in Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design & then from 1923-1927 he swapped over to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.
Galanda edited Dav magazine from 1924 – 1926 & was given state approval to teach drawing in 1928. He met Maria Boudova that year in Prague and married her in 1931. In 1929 he moved to Bratislava, taught at a girls’ school, a boys school & a School of handcrafts. Whilst teaching he was sharing a studio with Ľudovít Fulla at No. 5, Trnavska St, Bratislava until 1932.
In the autumn of 1930 he traveled to Paris, and had an exhibition in Kraków. During 1930–1932, Galana and his studio sharing friend L. Fulla released four issues of their Private Letters, full of progressive opinion on fine art and its role in modern society.
In 1935 he had exhibitions in Siena Elanu, Prague and in 1936 he exhibited in the Venice Biennale. In 1937 he exhibited in Moscow and in 1937 at Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris, winning a Silver Medal.
All his working life, one theme hed focussed on more than any other was women. Woman. Girl. Woman as mother. Girl with a scarf. Mother & child. Etcetera. Galanda took influence from expressionism and cubism but created his own form of painting using the genres of the day as simply his basis. Now, during 1936 – 1938, Galanda’s woman was honed to a smooth, effortless perfection.
Mikuláš Galanda, by age 40, had become a lyrical & sweetly melancholic painter of female beauty and charm. A poet in line, colour and form.
In the early months of 1938, Mikuláš Galanda participated in an Exhibition of Slovak Art in New York. He died on 5 June 1938, back home in Bratislava. Just 43.