Antun Motika
Muslim Woman, 1934
oil on canvas
96 x 70 cm

The painting Muslim Woman from 1934 presents Motika’s poetics of passionate subjectivism. He developed the experiences of French Post-Impressionism with the freer application of standard artistic materials and procedures. Motika accompanied the moment of lyrical beauty with an arabesque of balanced tones. Motika’s subtle poetics develops towards abstraction in this vision of a weightless world in which the figurative is achieved with only a flash of colour.

Antun Motika interrupted the study of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and decided to study painting instead. He graduated in 1926. He continued his studies with Ljubo Babić. He publishes caricatures in the magazine Koprive (under the pseudonym Lopata) and often experiments with art techniques. From 1929 to 1940, he teaches drawing at the Grammar School in Mostar. After his study trips to Paris in 1930 and 1935, Motika’s Mostar oeuvre became increasingly more abstract. He returned to Zagreb in 1941 and for the next twenty years he taught courses in textile, photography and ceramics, and he systematically experimented with collage, decalcomania, “smoked paper”, photographic prints and organic materials. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1942 and 1952. With the drawing series Archaic Surrealism, which he exhibited in Zagreb in 1952, he completely abandoned all ideological dogmas and socialist realist burdens of his contemporary artistic and social moment. In the pursuit of liberation from everything extra-artistic, drawing as an artistic wellspring permeates all phases of Motika’s work. Since 1953, he created a significant number of glass sculptures with colouristic interventions in Rogaška Slatina and Murano. He also designed ceramics and small-scale sculpture (medals and plaques) in iron.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, Senior curator of the national Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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