František Viktor Podolay, Lonely Tree

Astounding beauty of landscape is always exhilarating. To be embraced by it, to examine its colour scale and diversity, where every plant...


Article No.: O 1871

Autor: František Viktor Podolay

Work Title: Lonely Tree
Year of Origin: 1930
Technique: oil
Material: cardboard paper
Dimensions: 24 x 18,5 cm
Marked: in the left upper corner: Podolay 1930


            Astounding beauty of landscape is always exhilarating. To be embraced by it, to examine its colour scale and diversity, where every plant, flower or tree are of different shade and at the same time create incredible unity. “Lonely Tree” by Podolay is washed in colours of the autumn sun at the dusk. The central motive of the artwork, a lonely tree, is situated on the background of panoramic rather flat landscape. The majestic tree looms toward the sky and dominates the grass overgrowth tinted with autumn atmosphere. Podolay develops the composition in the first third of the artwork to accentuate the natural panorama. The motive is rendered expressively and counterbalanced by an impressive palette where earth shades blend into striking red, pink hues into blue and white shades, and evaporate into the perspective of the azure sky.

            It is impossible to locate the artwork geographically because Podolay as a landscape painter moved around various areas of Slovakia and chose many interesting views of the natural scenery such as the views of the High Tatras, and Dolny Zemplin. He depicted the sceneries from the area of around Trencianske Teplice or Tribec mountains that protected the mother of Slovak towns – Nitra in their valley.

            Frantisek Viktor Podolay was born on May 27, 1905 in Slopná pri Ilave in a teachers’ family. He studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Budapest in the special studio of prof. Július Rudnay in 1930 – 1934. After finishing the Academy he returned back to Slovakia and he lived both in Nitra and Trenčianske Teplice (1934 – 1939) where he organized several solo exhibitions and he taught the drawing and painting lessons for a certain time. He accepted the position of a secondary school teacher at the Secondary Grammar School in Michalovce where he taught drawing from the year 1941. Because he did not have time to do free painting he left the school services and in 1942 he moved to Bratislava permanently.

            He produced small figural paintings that can be linked to the influence of his professor Rudnay and Štefan Straka. His painting was dominated by landscape painting. He impressively depicted beautiful parts of Slovak nature. He created also the illustrations of Slovak castles for the book Slovak Castles by Janota. Since the fifties of the 20th C he had also produced monumental decorative works. He created several monumental and decorative works mainly in Bratislava – Olympia café, the Carlton Hotel, Tulip café and so on. Together with Vladimír Droppa he decorated the stairs of the Devín Hotel with a mosaic and painted Slovak ornaments, etc. Here he also established an advertising and graphic design company called STYL. It printed posters, produced decorations, installations of national and foreign exhibitions. STYL functioned also after WWII and when after 1948 the advertising company TVAR was created (later called Dielo joined with the Slovak Fund for Visual Arts – today the Visual Arts Fund) he became its executive director.

            Viktor František Podolay is a follower of the founding generation of Slovak painters who monumentalized Slovak landscape and heroized rural people. He was a member of artistic association Umelecká beseda slovenská, artistic society Spolok výtvarných umelcov Bohúň, and the association Spolok slovenských výtvarných umelcov.

            He had his first solo exhibition already in 1925, before he studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Bratislava and then in 1928 already as a student of the Academy he presented his works in the Živnostenký dom in Nitra. He emerged in the Slovak artistic scene in the thirties of the 20th C and he participated in solo and group exhibition mainly in Slovakia. His last exhibition took place in 1955, it was a group exhibition Art of the 19th and 20th C in the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

František Viktor Podolay died suddenly on 13th February, 1958 in Bratislava. In 1968, in October the exhibition of his works and works by Jozef Pospíšil took place. The exhibition was curated by Oľga Felixová. She said: “these landscapes were painted in oil, they are rendered in hard colours and austere drawing.” Similarly Marián Váross spoke about his paintings.


Marta Hučková
Photo: Slávomír Žákovič  


Nitra, May 2013