Hanak was famous for his distinctive illustrations with natural themes, portraying life of plants and animals with broad watercolor strokes mixed with beautifully balanced finer brushwork on rice paper, all that in stunning compositions and colors full of life.
His amazing watercolors are a cross between chinese traditional watercolors, the minimalist japanese painting-style and the czech rich culture in illustration.
Mirko Hanák (26 June 1921 – 4 November 1971) was one of the most successful czech illustrators of books about nature. Perhaps it was due to his fortune-tellers that he saw the charming landscape around the then Turčianske Svatý Martin in Slovakia when he first saw it.
But he was returning home to the Jeseníky Mountains, where his parents had moved. There he had his studio and also his own range. He once confessed himself:
“There are many people who love nature and don’t run around the woods with a flintlock, but I stubbornly cling to the observation that there are times and places where only hunters meet. I know for a fact that if it weren’t for the rifle, all my work would surely have taken different paths. We have had things together that I find beautiful and important that I must tell of.”
For his hunts became more and more like hunts without guns, his testimony became a drawing
Although Mirko Hanák said that he could only draw what he saw and what he knew, and sometimes even complained that his work was somewhat conservative in the context of contemporary artistic endeavours, he had unnecessary doubts about it.
He was in harmony with the mainstream of his generation, especially in his poetic vision of the world. This ability also made him an excellent illustrator of verse for children.
No one knew then how little time he had left. He succumbed to a malignant leukemia a few months after his anniversary, on November 4, 1971.