Janko Domsic was, among many other things, a demiurge, a builder, an organizer, and an artist. It was in his makeshift dormitory not far from the Montmartre cemetery, in Paris, that this Croatian exile made his celestial compositions, filled with religious political and Masonic symbols. “My writings are coded.” His drawings, like the texts that accompany them, respond to a very elaborate system. Magnified in the exhibition Art brut, works of the Antoine de Galbert collection, in 2015, at the maison rouge (Paris), his pieces appear in all the major world collections, both public and private, of art brut.
Janko Domsic was born in Malunje (Yugoslavia) in 1915. Very little is known about his life, except that he arrived in France under obscure circumstances, that he might have stayed in prison for a while and that he worked for some time on the construction of the railway in Pont-sur-Yonne. In Paris, near the Place de Clichy, he lived in very poor conditions.
Domsic drew and wrote abundantly: religious, political, Masonic themes. “My writings are coded,” he said, with each letter of one word forming another word and each symbol part of a personal coding system.
A brilliant inventor of many neologisms, he writes in French - although Croatian or German words sometimes slip in - and speaks about himself in the third person. His writing in coloured pencil, ballpoint pen or felt pen follows the drawing in a perpendicular or circular way. The unique geometry of the figures produces a global tension underlying the entire composition and creating a universe of anonymous and disembodied characters.
As a document from the police prefecture attests, he called himself Janko Bonsang Halleluya Domsic. He died in 1983, taking with him the secrets of his art and leaving behind a beautiful legacy since his masterpiece currently appears in the largest collections of art brut in the world.
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Janko Domsic : the celestial mechanic, from October 17th to November 22th, 2008. Extended and revisited version, 2018.