“Going to an art school can teach you the history of art. It can teach you about the different art periods, the styles and the Great Masters, but it cannot teach you to paint from the soul. This must be born in you. “- Branko Dimitrov
In the quiet country town of Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, you will find the Dimitrov Gallery, owned by well-known former Yugoslavian artist Branko Dimitrov. Dimitrov is a self-taught painter widely recognised in South African art circles.
South Africa became the new home of Dimitrov and his family in 1994, when religious tensions arose in Yugoslavia, and he and his family were granted visas to the country. Leaving the artistic community he loved, he arrived here to humble beginnings selling clothes for a friend. Slowly he began to rebuild a life here and with that came the inspiration and opportunity to paint again.
In 2001, he opened the Dimitrov Gallery in Dullstroom, a place he says shares the same high altitude and bright blue skies as his hometown, a space which 13 years later is filled with artworks.
Dimitrov’s work is self-described as “semi-abstract realism” – a bold and daring mix of colours that vibrate off the canvas, effectively bringing his love of music, portraits and landscapes to life.
On a day when this gentle Yugoslav giant is in attendance, you will know by the crowds watching him on the gallery terrace. With what seems like an effortless motion of harmonious colourful hand strokes, he creates someone’s portrait, to delight and cheers once it is complete. It is a rare honour to witness one of South Africa’s foremost Expressionist painters in action.
Buba jointly curates the gallery and the artworks she has on display are an exciting insight into the direction art is taking in this country. It is a strong move away from commercialism, back into an area of love and appreciation for the work of artists like Branko Dimitrov.
The gallery is open seven days a week. Dimitrov paints here on weekends, but otherwise is painting in his studio in Pretoria.
To visit Dullstroom and see the Dimitrov Gallery, book your accommodation now at Walkersons Hotel.