During a swashbuckling trip to the United States, I accumulated a treasure trove of pictorial motifs to last me more than a hundred years. For starters, this continent represented a planet, at first considered unreachable. When it became physically accessible to me, it embodied the ultimate desire for the new and modern, the very centre of civilization. Modern trends were far more pronounced there than in “old” Europe. America’s industrial and technological development has, culturally speaking, reached the pinnacle all should aspire to. The nostalgia of tradition has been suppressed. The crude reality of everyday life was fascinating. This is how it appeared before me in the form of a painted truck-van-jeep (this kind of automobile was not common in Europe at the time) on a hot day in Houston, Texas. Its peculiarity is manifested in the painted surfaces, which for me back then, had been a complete novelty. Around the world and back home, cars came in different colours, but monotonous. At the owner’s instructions, some special intent and new added content have been ignited here. It was a travelling home carrying its owner’s message, decorated with slogans and flags, the past, history and personal worldview. It appeared as the symbol of this country. Perhaps some embodiment of the individual spirit that the culture aspires to. It was interesting to discover it in one object, an item, a contemporary mode of transport like a vehicle, basically, an industrial and serial product of civilization, but reshaped to suit the individual need of one member of that community. In time, and after this encounter, all of these features would come to the old continent, but back then they were strikingly and shockingly new.
A hot day in Houston was dedicated to the rodeo. A spectator came to see the show in his Texas Truck, on its body a visual collection of, an important national anniversary commemorating the victory of civil liberties and other messages. The ladder on the painted rear door may have been completely non-functional and alongside an inscription that mentions heaven, could metaphorically refer to the metaphysical aspiration of its owner. Altogether, Texas Truck, with its name legible on the car, and also deliberately chosen by the owner as an identification code – a type of license plate and part of the complete visual accoutrements, looked like a vision on that day in Texas, a space shuttle, as an extract of our technical civilization that reached its full potential.
In painting, my personal wish has been to break free from the conventional framework of depicting life through existing, stylistic expressions, and new content was always a welcome contribution. I became familiar, through media and literature, with the distinctly American styles of Pop Art and Hyperrealism, that the local museums were awash with. There are some contextual and compositional similarities between this painting and my earlier works. For example, framing, separating the objective outer shell where the inner and enclosed space is suggested. Then, the choice of motifs, the value of which is not only artistic but it also creates a meaningful relationship with the world. The object’s functionality and its communal significance, together with various ways it is used by individuals. I was never only interested in perfect craftsmanship, although in the technical sense, I consider this to be one of my best paintings. The execution, however, simply had to be aligned with this brilliant, perfect motif. I know this need not be an excuse, just as someone else may have painted the Texas Truck in a completely different manner.
Jadranka Fatur, 4 February 2022
Jadranka Fatur, Texas Truck, 1983 – 1984, oil on canvas 143, 5 x 153, 5 cm. MG- 4269
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb