Sava Šumanović’s Palette, 1977
mixed media, 480 x 480 mm
Goran Trbuljak, one of the most prominent Croatian representatives of Conceptual Art, was born in 1948 in Varaždin. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1972. Goran Trbuljak’s entire oeuvre is dedicated to the critique of the art system, whether the objects of his lucid irony are the stereotypical notions about life and work of the male and female artists, museum institutions, art market or something else. His work titled Sava Šumanović’s Palette is a witty commentary on the classification of art, but also one of the few museum objects owned by the National Museum of Modern Art that encompasses events from the period of Conceptual Art in Croatia.
The artwork consists of four scenes, for small “paintings”. Each “painting” consists of a reproduction of a black-and-white photograph depicting the painter’s palette, a wooden board that the painter uses to mix paint during the act of painting. Trbuljak applied several colour tones to each of the reproductions using the tempera technique. Thus, Trbuljak’s four “paintings” consist of a reproduction of one black-and-white photograph and several brush strokes that add not only colour to each of the reproductions, but also the status of an original art object. In the jargon of traditional critics and art historians, the term “palette” did not only mean a wooden board, but it primarily appeared as a substitute for a series of phenomena ranging from descriptions of tonal colour values in a painting (dark and bright palette), to labelling painting styles (Picasso’s blue period, for instance). Since Trbuljak is not a painter, but a conceptual artist and filmmaker, he found a way to, on the one hand, show solidarity with his fellow artist Šumanović, but also to ironically criticize the way art is discussed and the method of its classification, on the other.
Text: Klaudio Štefančić, 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