Ilija Basicevic, Serbian (1895 - 1972)

Ilija Bašičeviċ, later Ilija "Bosilj" Bašičeviċ was born in 1895 in Šid, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is now in Serbia and died in 1972 in Šid. His parents were peasant farmers and he only received about four years of school before starting work on the farm. He left the country during both World War I to escape conscription and during World War II to avoid the Ustaše. He resisted collective farming and was periodically jailed on dubious charges by the political police.

Ilija Bašičeviċ's son Dimitrije was an art critic and became involved in a "naïve art" movement started by the USSR which rejected "decadent" modernism, and the father was inspired to paint. His son disapproved at first, because Ilija's work was not as precise or refined as the official Hlebene School's Reverse painting on glass techniques.

His first major showing was at a Belgrade gallery in 1963, and was very controversial because of Bašičeviċ's political stance. The painter took the surname "Bosilj" as a pseudonym for the showings. In the 1960s, 1970's, 1980's, his work was popular in Europe, often showcased in Zagreb and Belgrade but also Amsterdam and Paris.

Bašičeviċ's work is partially art brut and partially naïve art and most of his work is oil on canvas. Much of his work dealt with religion and folk legends and two-headed and two-faced creatures are a common theme. He gave many of his paintings to found an art museum in his home town in 1970.

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