A fully illustrated version of this article which includes images of selected paintings was published as lead the lead Editorial article, “In Search of Lost Time: Janko Brašić”, Pecat, January 13, 2015
Oparić is a small nondescript village, a wide place in the road on rural route No. 189 in Central Serbia, geographic co-ordinates, longitude 43°45'03˝N, latitude 21°07'11˝E,
On a cold September day in 1995 my brother and I were in Oparić doing the Marcel Proust thing, searching for lost time, remembering things past [to jog your literary memory: À la Recherche du Temps Perdu / In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past, all 3,031 pages and 1,267,069 words]. This backwater selo [village] was and is the ancestral home of the Brašić clan [anglicized to “Brashich” in the United States]. We had come in search of our artistic patrimony.
The Brašić clan is small and has barely managed to survive. Famine and war forced most Brašićs to flee to safe areas near Zagreb where they assimilated and flourished. In time the Brašić’s Croatian branch sent many to the United States and South America, primarily Argentina and Brazil, while the Serb contingent stayed in place, plodded on and excelled at war. Unfortunately while excelling, success was often found on the battlefield, with the Star of Karadjeorge, the nation’s highest medal for valor, being awarded posthumously.
In that culturally barren place our father’s cousin Janko Brašić was born in 1906. He must have done what any other kid did in those pre-World War I days, learned to read and write and grow up to work the family’s small plot of land. In 1933 he rebelled against the suffocating surroundings of his rural life – he started painting, painting portraits of family, his mother, his friends and later images of everyday village life and so was born Yugoslavia’s naïve art movement.