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Remembering Olga Bajusova, 1954-2012

From "Do You Love Me?" by Olga Bajusova.

Born and educated in Slovakia, and long iconic in her home country, Olga Bajusova was an award-winning illustrator of more than 30 children’s books, as well as a noted printmaker, exhibiting in Italy, Portugal, Romania, Canada, Japan, and the United States. The C. G. Jung Center mounted an exhibition of her etchings in organic abstractions in October 2011. Her prolific output of book illustrations and prints were displayed at the Western New York Book Arts Center in conjunction with a special screening of her animation The Christmas Wizard, a Central European holiday classic, at Squeaky Wheel in the winter of 2010.

Bajusova died on November 18. She was 58 years old.

Evocative of ancient wisdoms, Bajusova’s art of fantastical creatures and landscapes revealed an intimacy with the world of little folk, trolls, and faeries, in wisps of color, in seasons’ mute transitions, and the prickly sensations prompted by wings, claws, and beaks. Her images of vessels, birds and enigmatic creatures in flight were reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s paintings in their emotional, dream-like gestures and subtle detail. Through delicate restraint of line, vibrant color, and quaint facility, she evoked a world of ethereal enchantment. Bajusova’s sense of the bittersweetness of the magical touched viewers beyond childhood reverie in glimpses of narratives thought, known, or guessed, but longing to be believed. Strangely sentimental, but with an incredible naturalness, her work charmed without affectation.

Her illustrated books have won many awards including the Most Beautiful Book in Czechoslovakia in 1987, and the Most Beautiful Book of the Year in 1994. She worked with the Budisin publishing house in Germany as well as Mlada Leta. Her Slovak publisher, Buvik, has brought out several more children’s books in response to demand for her work, continuing to the present day. In1997, Ms. Bajusova received the Mlade Leta publishing prize, the prestigious Ludovit Fulla Award, and was elected to the International Board of Books for Young People. Most recently she was nominated for the Hans Christian Anderson Award for Children’s Literature. Her work included the previously mentioned animated film, The Christmas Wizard, and numerous illustrated books, including, The Kingdom of Flowers, Don’t Forget the Fairies, The Golden Gate, An Alphabet for Little Barbara, Girl of the Sun, The Owl of the Mountain, and Five Fingers on the Hand, a book written for children with hearing and speech disabilities.

Bajusova lived in Buffalo with her husband, the artist Jozef Bajus.

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