Bathing Female Nude, 1926
oil on canvas
99.9 x 72.5 cm
Bathing Female Nude is one of Ivo Režek’s most successful works that helped him become established in Paris in the mid-1920s. At the source of European modern painting, Režek achieves a perfect synthesis of monumental form and deep inner peace in a series of paintings depicting bathers. This distinctly suggestive cycle is executed with a thin lapidary layer of paint and a very restrained colour palette.
Režek’s education at the Zagreb College of Arts and Crafts was interrupted by military conscription. After the war he became one of the best students at the Academy in Prague. Following the expressionist phase during which he used thick layers of paint, he chose the path of new reality. He came to Paris in 1924 as an already formed painter, and developed the neoclassical style under the influence of Derain’s proportions and Picasso’s return to figuration. He is preoccupied with form and strives for order. He also studied fresco techniques with Lenoir. Despite being met with an environment unaccustomed to the avant-garde upon his return to Zagreb in 1931, Režek continued to cultivate figuration. In the vein of Magical Realism, he honestly portrays the life of his native Zagorje. In addition to a series of psychological portraits from the 1930s, Režek’s drawing oeuvre is also characterized by purity of conception and sensitivity. He publishes caricatures with sharp criticism of the socio-political situation and fascism in the magazines Koprive and Kerempuh. After the war he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He painted church frescoes (Trsat, Mihaljevci near Požega) and Mediterranean landscapes, while remaining permanently devoted to figuration.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, museum consultant 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