Appreciation of the artwork of Slovaks living in Canada has become a nice tradition in Ottawa's Slovak community. Colours, melody, joy, and kindness reunited at the Slovak Embassy in Ottawa on the evening of Thursday, March 26th when, on the invitation of His Excellency, Slovak Ambassador Andrej Droba, the local Slovaks and guests came together in the familiar diplomatic space to celebrate the talent and admire the artistic accomplishments of Doctor Metod Likavčan.
Doctor Likavčan, originally from Martin in Northern Slovakia, devoted his life to medicine and helping others, primarily children. He spent five years working with Doctors Without Borders in Tunisia and arrived in Montreal in 1983. Upon retirement from his professional life as a family doctor, he became a 'millionaire' as he himself admitted during his brief intercession at the embassy. However, it is not material wealth that he was alluding to. To him, being a millionaire translates into having the opportunity to dedicate his time and energy to beloved hobbies: sport, painting, and music.
In his artistic beginnings, Doctor Likavčan painted on glass and wood for he fell in love with the Canadian maple. He has also explored drawing and painting on canvas, goose feather, and inspired by artwork seen at a congress in Sweden, on metal including pans and tuna cans. He enjoys practicing so-called 'insite' or naive art that is pure and simple, and painted by ordinary people. "This is what makes me happy," said the maestro himself.
"Movement is the expression of life," said Doctor Likavčan and confessed that in wintertime, skiing is part of his daily routine. A humble man of discipline and music enthusiast at heart, Doctor Likavčan starts and ends every day with a prayer: playing his violin.
This is an instrument that has always fascinated him and now continues to inspire his art. He admires the work of Paganini and Stradivari, and one day in 2005 while pondering the anatomy of this musical instrument he took on another hobby: he carved his first violin with the help of Peter Mach, an Aylmer-based violinmaker. In the years that followed he made four others, receiving a diploma for three of them.
His love for music, respect for and admiration of nature, and deep connection to Slovakia are all reflected in the versatility and diversity of his artwork that comes in all kinds of shapes, forms, and sizes. All the proceeds from the paintings sold at the exhibition have been donated to Solidarité Jeunesse. The amount will be used for the charity's projects with young people in the Dominican Republic: building houses for needy families, working with disabled children and sugar cane workers.
It was an honour getting to know the wise, generous, compassionate, and kind-hearted Doctor Likavčan thanks to the stories sharedthrough his artwork that decorated the walls of the Slovak Embassy in Ottawa until April 1st.
Text: Maria Habanikova, Photos: Tibor Dej