Đuro Tiljak
Park, 1928
oil on canva
54 x 68 cm

Đuro Tiljak’s painting Park, from 1928 is an indispensable work of Croatian Magical Realism. After the drama and passion of Expressionism from the early 1920s, Tiljak’s response to countless existential questions is the painterly construction of a new reality. The vision of the Park is summarised based on a clear law and order, thus providing a clear insight into the very essence of reality. Natural forms are condensed through a Cézannesque transformation into eternal geometric forms. The volumes are accentuated, and the colour is reduced to pastel tones and inferior to modelling. By reducing the scene to abstraction, reality is extremely idealised and mystified and frozen forever in supernatural serenity and total alienation.
Đuro Tiljak interrupted his studies in Zagreb and in 1919 enrolled at the Moscow Academy to study under Wassily Kandinsky. After having returned to Zagreb, he graduated in the class of Ljubo Babić in 1923. He first painted under the influence of post-impressionists and then in the spirit of Magical Realism and he showed his work at the Spring Salons. Having trained in Paris in 1928/29, and as a member of the Zemlja Group from 1930 to 1933, instead of a pronounced cubicity he based his composition on drawing and a limited colour palette. Although in his work he always remains true to his own vision, in art criticism between the two wars he opposes larpurlatism and individual artistic values. During World War II he creates expressive figural scenes, and after the war he paints landscapes in which he developed colouristic improvisations that verge on abstraction. He was also a graphic artist. Since 1945, he has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.

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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