Ljubo Ivančić
Portrait of F.K., 1968
oil, mixed media on hardboard, 53 x 36 cm

Ljubo Ivančić (1925 – 2003) is a classic of Croatian expressive material figurative and abstract art at the intersection of existential painting and Art Informel. (Self)portraits and nudes are a thematic constant in his oeuvre. Ivančić’s painting is imbued with tragedy, absurdity and the grotesqueness of life. He drew his formative stimuli from the works of Croatian Mediterranean modernists imbued with matter and atmosphere (E. Vidović, M. Tartaglia, J. Plančić, I. Job), while he conveys an existential burden by intertwining tradition and modernity (Rembrandt, F. Goya, G. Rouault, F. Bacon). The artist’s achromatic and chromatic colour register has at first passed through a saturated, materially-dark filter that will be brightened in the 1970s and the colour will continue to intensify until the mid-1990s. Ivančić’s method of depicting disproportionately elongated and deformed characters, with allusive shapes, but also an atmosphere of evocative scenes, is another characteristic feature. This small in size, yet maximal in expression, and completely deformed Portrait of F.K. (1968) is one such work. It is a portrait of an aggravated deformed figure rendered with allusive form, an emaciated and gaunt physiognomy – an obvious metaphor for the anthological writer of fantastic expression from Prague, Franz Kafka. After having participated in the National Liberation Struggle since 1942, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949 (specialist course – Đ. Tiljak) where he also worked as a professor (1961 – 1979) and led the Master’s Workshop (1975 – 1984). He became a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1991.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: From the photo - archive of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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