American artist, Branko Paradis, was born as bombs fell in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1942. By age ten, he was trading family food for pencils and colors in order to “make pictures.” Paradis is a Self-taught artist, who has never had any formal art training. His work was classified as Naive, since it fits the standard description of untrained, colorful and without regard to trends in art. Life was very tough growing up in Croatia after the war, and Paradis’ only driving force was the ongoing dream to make his way to America.
By the 1960s, Paradis was participating in exhibitions with other Croatian artists who were part of the Naive art movement in the Balkins. There were other exhibitions in Switzerland and Venezuela. Paradis soon had the opportunity to leave Croatia, and in 1970, he finally arrived in New York.
In 1972, having heard about Paradis’ work in Croatia and Europe, Dr. Otto Kallir, Director of Galerie St. Etienne on W. 57th Street in New York, invited him to participate in major group exhibition featuring the Croatian Naive art movement in Europe at that time. It was a very successful show, and brought important attention to Paradis as a new artist in New York.
From 1977-78, by invitation of Dr Armand Hammer, Director of Hammer Galleries, Paradis had his first major solo exhibition. It was a major turning point, and brought him the confidence to just keep working.
Paradis’ themes and subjects have always been varied. Vivid memories of snow and peasants remain with him, and he continues to paint them. In the late 1990s, he jumped full force into his own vision of African animals, thus creating the “Naïve Art African Animals Collection.” Many of these images were published and his limited editions have also been collected. Rarely seen are his “Sensuous Femme” paintings. In some paintings, he still takes the opportunity to refer to his love for America and American life.
Now at 76, Branko Paradis continues to paint and work in his NYC studio. In his unique and seemingly simple work he continues to offer us his love and sincerity as an artist. He gives us an honesty and tranquility that is often missed in modern daily life. Studio visits in NYC are welcomed. Please inquire.
With best regards from Branko,