Vilko Gecan
Viktorija, 1919
oil on canvas
73 x 53.8 cm

The expressive drive of Gecan’s Viktorija from 1919 announces the new spirit of the Spring Salon. The young Czech woman who was in love with Uzelac, often posed for both friends (Suburban Venus, In the Bohemian Studio). Gecan paints Viktorija in half-profile with a rich tonal orchestration similar to Kraljević, but with a sliding foreground and a pronounced light halo, he actually creates a completely surreal scene in an unreal ambience.
Vilko Gecan and the three years younger Milivoj Uzelac started painting at the Banja Luka grammar school. In 1912, they both moved to Zagreb and started studying with Tomislav Krizman. Gecan’s successfully started education at the Munich Academy was interrupted by army conscription. After being captured he spent three years as a prisoner of war in Sicily, then volunteered to go to the Macedonian Front, and he eventually joined Uzelac in Prague in 1919. The complementarity of Gecan’s creative discipline and Uzelac’s hastiness was a valuable corrective for them both. Besides Zagreb, Gecan later lived and worked in Berlin, New York and Chicago. Once he returned to Croatia for good in 1932, he painted intimist scenes, portraits, still lifes, landscapes and cityscapes featuring a strong colour palette. He died in 1973.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator at National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

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