Wednesday, March 9, 2016

MACEDONIA: ART AND LITERATURE


Early art in Macedonia was highly influenced by the styles of the Greeks and later the Ottomans, but it was also influenced by the Romans as well. Many examples of religious iconography have been found, and many of these are portrayed on the walls of cathedrals across the country. Mosaics of the Christian icons on walls and floors were also created during this time. Fresco painting was also a popular art form during the pre-Medieval period. Some of the best-known examples of Byzantine frescos are found in Macedonia. 

From about the 13th century, portrait painting started to become a popular style of painting, especially among royalty and the leaders of the church. Intricate and highly decorated woodcarving is one art that has its roots in this early period. Many designs were either Biblical scenes, folklore stories, or historical events. While many examples were used in the church, the artistic styles and functions varied. And the influence from the Middle East certainly left its mark in both its art, sculpture, and architecture.  

I'm fairly certain this is a scene of someone finally telling their jerk boss what they really think.

Macedonia has a strong painting scene thanks to four painters who acted as the founders of modern painting in this country: Dimitar Avramovski-Pandilov, Vangel Kodzoman, Lazar Licenoski, and Nikola Martinoski. These painters emerged during the early part of the 20th century, embracing movements that were popular in other areas of Europe like expressionism and impressionism. They paved the way for other painters to step up to the plate after they passed on.

 
Sculpture at Mechkin Kamen

Sculpture is also an art form that Macedonians embraced. Several years ago, many terracotta icon statues were discovered (or rather, rediscovered) near the city of Vinica. The father of modern sculpture is often attributed to Dimo Todorovski. He was also a painter, but it was his memorial at Mechkin Kamen in commemoration of the battle of the same name (located in Krushevo) that put him on the map. That monument alone became a national symbol. His work led the way for other sculptors such as Tome Serafimovski and Petar Hadzi Boskov. 



Much of the early architecture of Macedonia came from the Bulgarians. Several of its early churches have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Most of them are located in and around the city of Ohrid. In fact, there were so many in that city that UNESCO just declared the entire city and the nearby lake to be on the list due to its historical significance. (“You know what? I’m not writing reports for all these buildings. Seriously, it’s 4:30pm on a Friday. Just put the entire city down and be done with it. Now, let’s go get a beer.”) There are also several architectural styles that can be contributed to the Ottoman Empire. Mosques, baths, and other buildings that were built during this time have been found in many of the old sections of towns and cities. 



Literature in Macedonia is primarily written in the Macedonian language, which wasn’t even officially acknowledged as a language until 1946 when Yugoslavia was formed. (Maybe it was viewed more along the lines of a dialect, perhaps?) There are generally three large literary periods: Old Macedonian Literature (which ran from the 9th—18th century and included the introduction of Christianity and the Ottoman invasion), New Macedonian Literature (from 1802—1944 and included a period of national awakening, a revolutionary period, and an inter-war period between the world wars), and a Modern Literature period (from 1944—present). 

Blaze Koneski. I think he looks a little like a cross between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harry Caray.

Although the earlier literary eras laid the groundwork for the modern movements, Macedonian literature really didn’t gain momentum until after WWII. A group of scholars led by Blaze Koneski were given the task of standardizing the Macedonian language for usage in the government, in education, and as a language for literature. During the time after the war, authors starting using it as a means to write and publish freely. Several poets emerged on the scene like Gane Todorovski, Blaze Koneski, Aco Shopov, and Slavko Janevski. Many poets also ventured into short story and novel writing as well. Theatre and cinema is also highly popular in Macedonia. Dramatists such as Tome Arsovski, Goran Stefanovski, and Kole Cashule have been entertaining people for decades on the stage. Of course, they also wrote works in prose as well. 





One well-known author is Zivgo Cingo. A few of his stories have been translated into other languages including English. His most famous work is his novel Golemata Voda (The Great Water), which was also made into a movie. (Unfortunately, it's not available on Netflix, at least not in the US. However, it looks like you can buy a used copy on Amazon for $3.84, and it's a Region 1 DVD too!)



Up next: music and dance

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