Artworks in the Collection

Leposava Bela ST. PAVLOVIĆ
In the Shelter of the Red Cross (1941)


In Bela St. Pavlović’s opus there is one other painting with the same title, which is kept in the National Museum, painted several years later, while the Allies’ bombs were spreading death and demolishing Belgrade. It is more complex in composition and more developed with several women’s and children’s figures in the cold gamut of green tones. Unlike that one, the painting from 1941, reduced to two young mothers with babies in arms has warm harmonies of brown and red, with the occasional blue or green accent. It unequivocally indicates a certain closeness to the palette and an approach to form of her somewhat older and more experienced friend, Zora Petrović. Both miniatures are precious not only because of their artistic value and aesthetic heights, but also due to the chosen motif which possesses the strength of a document. The artist was not trying to define the figures precisely, but to suggest their expressions and recreate the atmosphere of the shelter in the Simina Street exclusively through the rhythm of her strokes and chords of dampened tones. Most of all she tried to affirm the invincible spirit, which, even at the most tragic of moments, strove towards light, which celebrated life, kindness and beauty. Like many others, she achieved important things in the most difficult of circumstances, thus negating the Latin saying Inter arma silent musae. Fighting destruction with creation, at the beginning of the 1990s when (according to her own words) the “beast which had risen from hell descended upon us once more”, she calmly remembered the days during World War II when she was helping the unfortunate as an activist of the Red Cross, but still managed to paint an the odd piece. That is why she lives on in her people like all those who left behind the brightest of humanist legacies.

Leposava Bela St. Pavlović