Bogosav Živkovic, untitled, between 1957 and 1958, carved wood, height : 42 cm, photo : Danielle Caputo, Atelier de numérisation – Ville de Lausanne, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Bogosav Živkovic (1920–2005) was born in the village of Leskovac, in the municipality of Lazarevac, near Belgrade, Serbia. Born into a farming family, he worked from childhood on his parents’ farm and in the fields. He showed an interest in woodworking even as a child, making small toys for himself. He then trained as a furrier, working for two years in his village and learning to handle a variety of tools. He then moved to Belgrade, where he joined a cooperative of furriers. Forced to give up his job for health reasons in 1956, he became a porter in state administrative offices, a position he held until his retirement.
Živkovic was tortured several times during the Second World War and suffered since then from insomnia and nightmares in which he was oppressed. He had a particularly powerful dream in 1957, and the experience was so horrifying that he felt the need to give form to the creature tormenting him in order to free himself. It was thus that he created his first wood sculpture of a large snake. His dreams would remain one of his main sources of inspiration. His sculptures are highly detailed and include numerous faces – both human and animal – with changing proportions and angle of view.
He generally preferred hardwoods such as walnut, oak, or cherry, which he carved with a chisel. He then ‘fired’ his sculptures, as he called the process, soaking them in a hot infusion of various plants. Once he felt the work was ready, he would rub it with another piece of wood to give it a sheen.