Exhibition “A Conscious Abandonment of Reality”: Sava Sekulić and Ilija Bosilj”

Exhibition “A Conscious Abandonment of Reality: Sava Sekulić and Ilija Bosilj” will open on June 14 at 8 PM at the Gallery of Matica Srpska, and visitors can view it until September 1.

As part of the collaboration between the Museum of Naive and Marginal Art in Jagodina and the Gallery of Matica Srpska, two exhibitions will be opened: “Consciously Abandoning Reality: Ilija Bosilj and Sava Sekulić” at the Gallery of Matica Srpska in Novi Sad and “Pomorišac – Vasa Pomorišac” at the Museum of Naive and Marginal Art in Jagodina.

At the invitation of the Casa dell’Art Brut museum in Mairana di Casteggio, Italy, in June last year, the Museum of Naive and Marginal Art from Jagodina presented the exhibition “Consciously Abandoning Reality: Ilija Bosilj and Sava Sekulić” to the Italian public, which attracted great attention. The concept of the exhibition is the result of two previous exhibitions presented by MNMA at the Serbian Cultural Center in Paris: “The Power of Vision” (2021) and “The World According to Ilija” (2022).

The exhibition “A Conscious Abandonment of Reality: Ilija Bosilj and Sava Sekulić” presents 67 works by these two artists from various museum collections, accompanied by two documentary films: a film about Ilija Bosilj directed by Žika Mitrović, produced by Centarfilm, and a film about Sava Sekulić directed by Slobodan Pešić, which includes segments of conversations with the artist himself. The exhibition is complemented by documentation, including a letter from Jean Dubuffet about Ilija’s art, written when Dubuffet included him in his collection (now part of the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne). Given the significance of the artistic oeuvres on display, as they belong to two of the most internationally recognized authors in the field of raw art, and because these works operate at the boundary of contemporary and art brut art from their inception, the exhibition also has a certain theoretical-artistic aspect that contributes to its importance.

Ilija Bašičević Bosilj (1895–1972) is one of the most internationally recognized authors of unconventional art. His works traveled to galleries and museums in almost all major cities of Western Europe during his lifetime, as well as to America, China, and Japan, consistently receiving unanimous acclaim as authentic art unparalleled by anything else.

Two prominent academics of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Dejan Medaković and Vojislav Đurić, actively supported the high value of Ilija Bosilj’s oeuvre during their lifetimes. Professor Medaković considered Ilija one of the ten most significant Serbian painters, and Vojislav Đurić professionally analyzed his art.

In addition to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, the Museum of Everything in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, Ilija’s works are found in prestigious private collections like those of Max Bill and Carlo Ponti. Following a solo exhibition in New York at the St. Etienne Gallery in 2006, Ilija’s exhibitions have continued, including one where he was shown alongside Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and Picasso.

The other artist the audience will be able to meet, Sava Sekulić (1902–1989), also gained international recognition early on. During his lifetime, his art received exceptionally positive remarks from Mića Popović and Leonid Šejka. Sava’s position in society and his specific style make him a pure example of art brut. Recently, Sava Sekulić has been represented by the prestigious Michael Haas Gallery in Berlin, which dedicated a solo exhibition to him in 2021 titled “From Sava to Sava: Sava Sekulić.”

The themes of both exhibited oeuvres are global, related to the general questions of human existence, life and death, family and religion, making their paintings understandable worldwide. Both authors, Sava and Ilija, create new worlds in their works, expressing philosophical thoughts through visual art, almost entirely erasing their inner, emotional lives as sources of inspiration. Their paintings illustrate the freedom of expression evident in the iconography of these images, an authentic visual expression, and the philosophical dimension of the questions and answers they address.

The exhibition is accompanied by a trilingual catalog (Serbian, Italian, and English) with texts by the exhibition author Dr. Ivana Bašičević Antić, Barbara Safarova, Jerko Denegri, Jean Dubuffet, and Ivana Jovanović. The curator of the exhibition is Mirjana Brmbota, MA, museum advisor at the Gallery of Matica Srpska.

The realization of the exhibition “A Conscious Abandonment of Reality: Ilija Bosilj and Sava Sekulić” was enabled by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia. The exhibition is sponsored by DDOR Insurance Novi Sad.

The event is finished.


23. Jun 2024.


10:00 AM - 6:00 PM


The Gallery of Matica Srpska
Trg galerija 1, Novi Sad