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Prešeren Awards

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Tone Kralj (1900-1975)
For his lifetime achievement in fine arts

The painter, printmaker and sculptor Tone Kralj is an artistic persona whose constructive influence on the artistic and cultural environments in Slovenia spanned five decades. As one of the founders of Slovenian expressionism and an originator of a signature full-blooded realism, Kralj boasted an encyclopaedic oeuvre, which encompassed almost all art forms, from drawings to intimate prints, oil paintings and sculptures to monumental wall decorations and interventions in architecture. Regardless of motifs, his works are imbued with sincere social commitment, and particularly with an interest in the Slovenian peasant, whom he took to symbolic heights with bold colours and monumental composition. Underneath the rough structure and forms that seem as if rising from a heavy soil, despite the bitterness and hurtful tragedy, the symbolic vision rises into an optimistic faith of the people. The artist always tailored these expressive components, embedded in unique forms, to the material he was using. Be it wood or an oil painting, we can always feel the presence of a serious artist, one who masters his difficult occupation with confident potency, paying no heed to fleeting accolades but following his own internal urge. Therefore, his work grew to become a permanent possession and one of the most valuable achievements of Slovenian art, which was able to keep both feet on the ground and at the same time touch the vastness of spirit and sincere emotion. In his expressionist period, he also gained reputation as one of the founders of Slovenian modern art, a movement which would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for Kralj’s contribution.
Nevihta, 1923
o. juta

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