This great Croatian naïve artist and ardent politician was born to peasant parents in the lush Drava Valley, northeast of Zagreb. At age 12, he left school to become a labourer and soon began to paint on glass, as well as the walls of neighbours’ houses using whitewash thinned with milk. His talents were discovered by a teacher who took him to the Gallery of Croatian Naïve Art in Zagreb in 1957. The luminous rural scenes by Hlebine School painters inspired him to move to Zagreb with his wife and young son, where he worked as a postman for many years until recognition as an excellent graphic artist with book illustrations, prints and drawings, often of biblical or mythological stories. As for his paintings, often of rustic winter scenes, he noted, “I have given man a special place in nature, I have elevated him to the throne by making him part of nature itself… The humans in my paintings are sustained by the melancholy colours of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.”
His series of drawings in the 1990s portrays scenes of human suffering from the Homeland War. He had added the pseudonym “Croata” in 1964 while his country was part of Yugoslavia, but his nationalist feelings were starting to run strong. A popular Croatian patriot, he was elected to Croatia’s newly established parliament twice. Active politically and socially right up to his sudden death (while bicycling at a sports arena), Ivan Lacković Croata and his landscapes, figural compositions, flowers, and nature have been exhibited around the world. Eight of Lacković’s line drawings (large black and white prints) accompany the two song cycles composed for a cappella choir by Croatian composer and all-round distinguished cultural hero Rudolf Matz. Published in Zagreb in 1980, this folio entitled Under Mount Medvednica has two sections, Among the Roses and Vineyards and The Ballad of Matija Gubec (a 16th century Croatian peasant rebellion leader and hero) and is distributed by Dominis Music.