Milena Pavlovic Barili trust in Pozarevac has hundreds of valuable works by an artist who left a mark in the history of avant-garde painting.
In the immediate vicinity of the National Museum in Pozarevac, in the very center of the city, lies the family house of Pavlovic. The old, beautifully preserved, ground-level building in Voje Dulica Street No. 14, during the 1960s, became the memorial house and gallery of painter Milena Pavlovic Barili. In the house where Milena was born on November 5, 1909, a permanent exhibition of her works now stands, a small aesthetic temple of drawings, watercolors, pastels, oil on canvas, graphics. This small, comfortable house occasionally serves as a space for lectures, concerts and literary promotions.
At the entrance to the gallery is a memorial plaque with the engraved dedication: “Milena’s home – for her talent, values and youth – mom.” These are the words of Danica Pavlovic Barili who, with the help of painter and art critic Miodrag B. Protic, managed to preserve and present to the audience in Pozarevac the works of her prematurely deceased daughter. Milena’s life suddenly ended on March 9, 1945, in New York, four months after her 35th birthday.
A gallery featuring several hundred works of art, as well as a collection of Milena’s poetry, family photos, letters, personal items and a home library, was opened to the public on June 24, 1962.
Milena Pavlovic Barili was the only child of Danica Pavlovic and Bruno Barili who met at the Munich Conservatory. Milena’s mother was from Pozarevvac while father Bruno was an Italian composer and poet, so the painter spent the earliest childhood on relations Pozarevac – Rome. Primary, secondary and academic education she got in Serbia, as well as in Italy, Austria and Germany. Although Milena could not find a job in Yugoslav schools, after several independent and group exhibitions in Belgrade and her hometown, she was greeted with enthusiasm at the art galleries in London, Paris, Florence, Rome … In the last six years of her short but creatively very rich life, the artist spent in America, where among other things she worked as a fashion designer, creating costumes for the ballet and the covers for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Country and Town, Charm, Glamor.
Surrealists’ poets, among them the author of the surrealist manifesto Andre Breton, called her their own which can be seen in her dreamlike images of girls with wings, panoramas of unusual cities, antique pillars among magical objects, waves with strong figures of angels, girl’s accessories, harlequins, ladies. Due to the purity and the beauty of expression, the combination of colors and motifs, and sometimes the costumes her figures worn, her work can be linked with the Renaissance. She painted self-portraits, which are her most famous works: Self-portrait with a veil, Artist with archer, Self-portrait from 1938, Lady with a white hat. Even with the other faces she portrayed, as is the case with the paintings Composition, Venus with the lamp and the Girl with a lamp, they have her warm, big eyes. This is why one can feel as if he ended up in Milena’s home while walking through Pozarevac museum.
“Magical Milena” in Belgrade
Although this was not a jubilee year, in mid-December 2018 at Culture center Pozarevac, the play “Dream of Milena” was opened. Last month, this play, actually a poetized stage performance motivated by the life and work of Milena Pavlovic Barili, moved to the Belgrade Bitef Theater.
A month before, more precisely on November 8, in the House of Jevrem Grujic, the exhibition “Magical Milena” was opened. More than forty of her works have been presented to the audience, including self-portraits, portraits of Danica and Bruno Barili, mysterious, fantastic compositions, illustrations for fashion magazines, as well as the fashion design of Igor Todorovic inspired by the artist.
The exhibition “Magical Milena” will be open until March 31, 2019. The working hours of the Jevrem Grujic House are Thursdays and Fridays from 15:00 to 20:00 hours, as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 16:00.
By: Ivana Slavkovic