(1908 - 1992)
Vladan Stiha, a painter of Western American landscapes and Native American Indians and cowboys, began his long, colorful life in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. His life would end three continents and eighty-four years later in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Born into a family of artists, Stiha learned to draw and paint from his father. He began his formal art education in Belgrade, then had the opportunity to study at The Academy of Arts in Vienna and at the Academy of Art in Rome.
After Yugoslavia was invaded during World War II, Stiha and his wife emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina. A vibrant and individual impressionistic style emerged during this period, inspired by Stiha’s feeling of newfound freedom, the gaucho lifestyle and colorful pampas.
Stiha's spirit was always searching. After ten years in Argentina, he relocated to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The dramatic beaches and primitive marketplaces filled with Indigenous peasants captured the artist’s heart. His canvases became saturated with rich color. By this time, Stiha was mature artistically, and it was during this period that he began experimenting with Cubism.
Stiha's studio in Brazil was located across the street from the American Embassy. His reputation as a celebrated European and South American artist attracted the attention of the American Consulate, and the Stihas were offered citizenship. Their long-awaited dream of immigrating to the United States came true when Stiha was 62 years of age. After a short stay on the West Coast, the couple found their way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, opening the Stiha Gallery at the historic La Fonda Hotel in 1971.
During their first year in the Southwest, Stiha traveled from reservation to reservation finding inspiration and painting traditional Native American ceremonies and reenactments of the arrival of settlers held in the spirit of healing old wounds by "walking in the white man's shoes."
Vladan Stiha's ability as a colorist and portrait painter earned him a place in the collections of museums such as the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas; Pioneer Museum, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Red Ridges, Oklahoma; and Fort Huachuca Historic Museum in Arizona.
"The play of light on the deserts and the mountains of New Mexico exhilarates me. The shift and flow of colors beneath the cloud sweeps mark the changing seasons with clean definitions and raise my mind to an understanding of the inevitable order of life." ~ Vladan Stiha