Viera Bombová — Figures

Viera Bombová is known and valued for her illustrations of children’s books. She has managed to deliver the beauties of “exotic” countries and peoples even to children in Slovakia.

Inventory No.: K 68

Artist: Viera Bombová
Title: Figures

Year: 1965
Technique: mixed media – black and white monotype
Material: paper
Dimensions: height 49,5 cm; width 31 cm
Signature: bottom left in charcoal: V. Bombová 65

Viera Bombová is known and valued for her illustrations of children’s books. She has managed to deliver the beauties of “exotic” countries and peoples (e.g. Polynesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Native Americans) even to children in Slovakia. Her illustrations are based on Slovak folklore, customs, colour palettes and ornaments. She has also drawn her inspiration from folk costumes, embroidery, laces, woodcuts or glass painting. Her poetic style, reduced and deep colour palettes or layering of image compositions incorporate traditional motives expressed in a new, inventive language and yet preserve their “archetypal fairytale form” [1]. However, the decorative character of her illustrations was not the only thing Bombová focused on – she also tried to express feelings and give her works depth that should be easy to understand even without description.

These characteristic features are also present in Viera Bombová’s freelance work. She is one of the rather undervalued female printmakers whose careers peaked during the 1960s and 1970s. Nitra Gallery’s collections include her monotype titled Figures. It is an example of Slovak art tendencies from the mid 1960s when both formal and contextual restrictions were loosened and there was an apparent desire for experimentation. Bombová’s artwork depicts elongated silhouettes of beings blending with silhouettes of buildings. In the sky, we can see the Sun and its eclipse at the same time (or is it the Moon?). The mysterious and poetic atmosphere wipes the borders between light and darkness, night and day, dreaming and reality, the animate and inanimate.

Viera Bombová was born on April 14, 1932 in Buclovany, near Bardejov. From 1950 to 1956, she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava under prof. Ladislav Čemický, Peter Matejka and Dezider Milly, she finished her studies at the department of free and illustrative printmaking under prof. Vincent Hložník. She has illustrated over 30 books, many of which have been awarded – e.g. Golden Apple at the Illustrations Biennial in Bratislava (1967 and 1969), the Cyprián Majerník Award (1967), the Mladé letá Publishing House Award (1971) or the Silver Medal IBA in Leipzig (1971). She lives in Bratislava.

[1] SLIACKY, Ondrej: Zlatá pani slovenskej rozprávky [The Golden Lady of Slovak Fairytale]. In: Bibiana – revue o umení pre deti a mládež [art revue for children and youth]. Bratislava : BIBIANA, International House of Art for Children, volume IX., number 1/2002, p. 5. ISSN 1335-7263.

Omar Mirza
August 2020