STA, 5 August 2022 - Kostja Gatnik, a versatile visual artist, has died at the age of 76, his family told the STA. He was best known as an illustrator and comic book author. He received a number of awards, including the Prešeren Prize for lifetime achievement, the country's top accolade in the arts world.
Gatnik also won the Levstik and the Hinko Smrekar prizes for his children's literature and illustration work, respectively.
Born in 1945 in Ljubljana, Gatnik graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts. He was also known as a graphic designer, set designer in film and theatre, photographer and painter, although he was very private about his painting, having told the STA once that he painted for himself alone.
Gatnik's oeuvre is marked by an exploration of visual concepts and communication in the last quarter of the 20th century. His painting, graphic design, illustration and photography share an extraordinary intelligence and rarely seen high standards of quality, read the justification for his Prešeren Prize in 2010.
He entered the Slovenian art scene through pop art and hyperrealism, and in the late 1980s, he made waves with his heightened confessional and self-reflection poetics.
Gatnik illustrated many famous children's books and drew characters that are familiar to almost everyone, including Gal the Dwarf and characters in the frog-inspired book Jure Kvak Kvak (Jure Croak Croak). When it comes to comic books, Magna Purga is likely his most famous work, being a classic of Slovenian comics.
He was laid to rest at a small family funeral on Friday.