18 / 2003
Kristina Toplak


The Art school of the Slovenska kulturna akcija, which was active between 1995 and 1960 in Buenos Aires presents one of the three attempts to establish art education among Slovene emigrants all over the world. Differently from the other two, which were projects if individual artists, the mentioned is a collective emigrant project based on the model of European art colleges. The founders of the school, particularly the SKA leadership, wished to preserve the continuity of Slovene art tradition and indirectly influence through art on cultural and especially ethnic perception of Slovene emigrants. The outlines of activity of the school and of the position of art within the frame of the SKA are given on the basis of publications in the SKA gazette – GLAS Slovenske kulturne akcije, individual narrations of students, notes by Marijan Marolt, and other sources.

Acknowledged artists were giving lessons at the SKA art school: the painters Bara Remec and Milan Volovšek, sculptor France Ahčin, and art historian Marijan Marolt who were all active members of the SKA fine arts section. The first and the only generation of students of the art school counted eight people. They have organised four annual exhibitions and cooperated several times in artistic equipping of the SKA book editions. In 1960, six students concluded the school of which only one actively creates and exhibits while the rest dropped artistic design. They mostly made for related knowledge such as art history, architecture, art crafts, and similar.

The school was active only five years and the teachers educated only one generation of artists. After that time, the school no more had financial and moral support of the community. We can only guess why. Was it about a conservative attitude of the community or perhaps political aversion to modern art, which because of its universal language and its increasing modelling after non-Slovene motifs could no longer be the tool for manipulation?

Half of the teachers left after a few years and what started as a common enthusiastic project of the SKA fine arts section later reduced to persistent, almost stubborn, idealistic and hard work of one person, Bara Remec. Marijan Remec too persisted with his art history lessons until the end although to his opinion the school became Bara Remec’s school. The sole remain of the initial enthusiasm for asserting Slovene art abroad is the still active SKA fine arts section. Its members organize art exhibitions, report in the SKA newsletters on art events from the world, and help the younger generation of artists in their assertion.

Kristina Toplak, ethnologist, cultural anthropologist and Professor of art history, Inštitut za slovensko izseljenstvo ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana.