Đuro Seder
Still Life, 1977
tempera on paper

Đuro Seder belongs to the generation of Croatian artists who were supposed to renew modernist artistic principles after World War II. This expectation was strengthened by the official erasure of Socialist Realism from the state cultural policy, which occurred around the time when young Seder was graduating from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts (first half of the 1950s). The restoration of artistic modernism proceeded in two directions. In the first, we see the renewal of Bauhaus ideas, while the second follows the principles of Abstract Expressionism and the then current philosophy of Existentialism. After becoming a member of the “Gorgona” Group in 1959, Seder was looking to find his artistic path in abstract and monochromatic paintings, which were content with demonstrating their own materiality: the frame, layers of pigment, canvas and the like. Influenced by Existentialism, and subsequently thanks to the contact of group members with Yves Klein, Seder was known to say that he tried, in the paintings from that period, to show emptiness, not only as a metaphor of human life, but as a concrete personal feeling.

“Still Life” stands somewhere between Seder’s Gorgonian phase and its polar opposite, when he gravitated towards expressive painting with suggestions of the human figure, landscape and the like. Variegated colourway, paint applied in thick impasto layers and strong stylisation of the motif have become the main features of his painting since the early 1980s onwards. Realistic motifs are still not recognisable in this “Still Life”, there are no strong, contrasting colours as of yet, the brush stroke is accentuated, but quieted with large colour surfaces. It is clear the Seder has given up on depicting emptiness, but was still searching for a content to fill it.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

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