Janez Vidic: From paintings to dolls
Janez Vidic, two museums, and a library
The works of Janez Vidic, naturalized Styrian, painter, illustrator, author of wall paintings, and long-term technical editor at Založba Obzorja (1956-73), are kept in both museums. With the establishment of the Maribor Puppetry Museum, we can connect knowledge for the first time and shed light on various fields of the artist's creation. It is less well-known to the general public that Janez Vidic produced drafts for puppets and scenography for three puppet shows at the Maribor Puppet Theatre in two theater seasons. At that time, the artist was already enjoying "retirement" and, in his own words, devoted himself to painting, for which he did not have enough time before, while working at the Obzorja Publishing House. As it turns out, during this period he was also impressed by the collaboration with the Maribor Puppet Theatre, which moved to premises on Rotovške trg in 1968 and became professional in 1974. The three puppet shows produced by Janez Vidic in the fourth and fifth seasons (1977/78 and 1978/79) of the Maribor Puppet Theatre were created in collaboration with different authors and directors: Pegam and Lambergar (a folk tale directed and composed by Edi Majaron ), Red Riding Hood and the Bewildered Wolf (Rade Pavelkić directed by Bojan Čebulj) and Soldier, a good step (Milan Čečuk directed by Bojan Čebulj). Despite the diversity, the drafts and performances that can be seen today in preserved photographs of the performance show the characteristic features of Vidic's aesthetics, which he developed through illustration and painting. He painted all the stage elements for the three plays and the flat puppets for the play Pegam and Lambergar himself, while the rest of the puppets and props were made in the LGM workshop according to his sketches.
Janez Vidic is considered as one of the most prominent Slovenian illustrators of the second half of the 20th century. His opus includes more than 100 book editions: from children's and youth literature, illustrations of author's texts, novels, and poems to manuals and textbooks, and even cookbooks. Very early on, he started working with Mladinska knjiga, which recognized his talent and awarded him the prestigious Levstik Award (1950, 1951, 1953) for illustrating youth and children's literature. A rich opus in the field of illustration was also created in a long and fruitful collaboration with the Obzorja publishing house, where he illustrated a variety of material and, together with the famous editor Jožet Košar, contributed to the great success of the publishing house. At the beginning of the fifties, Vidic's drawing, embedded in realistic trends, is expressed with a simple line, often in the technique of pen drawing and ink. It corresponded to his idea that with a clear design of the content he could better communicate to children. Later, his illustration acquired a more expressive expression, eventually including grotesque gestures, with which he enriched the characters in a simple and effective way. dr. Sergej Vrišer, who often followed Vidic's work, emphasized in an extensive monograph published on the occasion of a large retrospective exhibition at the Maribor Art Gallery in 1983, how studiously Vidic always delved into the historical background of events. He looked for characteristics of the time, clothes and architecture with which they complemented the events, which was especially expressed in popular editions intended for adult audiences, for example in Tavčar's Visoška Chronicle (Obzorja, 1968), Linhart's Matiček (Obzorja, 1967) and Vorančev Doberdob (Youth book, Obzorja, 1980). The Maribor University Library, Home Studies, and Special Collections Unit has the Collection of Založba Obzorje and has added valuable material to the exhibition.
His oeuvre includes various painting techniques; next to the classics, a rich opus on glass stands out. He built recognition with a selection of motifs and a way of painting, which are close to people's artistic creativity. A constant source, with which he managed his entire creative journey, he drew from the experience of NOB and the motifs of the Styrian landscape, villages and images of peasant life. Vidič's choice of elemental painting style and motif can be understood as a rapprochement with the primal, both in nature and in man. However, behind the simplistic gesture and unwieldy appearance hides a complex message. In his mature oeuvre, we recognize bouquets of dried flowers, a "self-portrait rooster" and other objects of the disappearing ethnographic heritage of Prlekija, which he depicted with a measure of melancholy, fantasy and surrealism.