Nives Kavurić Kurtović
(1938 – 2016)
Painting 2, 1964
75 x 37 cm
Nives Kavurić Kurtović is one of the most significant Croatian painters. In 1957 she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where she obtained a degree in graphic art and painting in 1962 in the class of prof. Frano Baće. From 1962 to 1967, she was an associate in Krsto Hegedušić’s Master’s Workshop. She had her first solo exhibition in 1963, and twenty years later she became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. In 1997 she became a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and thus the first female academic in Croatia. The beginnings of her work as a painter were marked by the so-called black phase under the influence of Existentialism and Art Informel. Thick layers of oil paint accompany the decaying anthropomorphic forms in drawing. The fusion of drawing as “the most human of possibilities” (N. Kavurić Kurtović) and the painterly will be present throughout her entire oeuvre based on intimate expressions, translated into surreal elements such as fragmented body parts, deformations of form, materiality of colour fields and lines, as well as the incorporated textual segments, thus creating scenes full of potent personal symbolism.
Like the mechanisms of the unconscious, Painting 2 connects various techniques of interventions on canvas (mixed media), and it combines segments that the mind finds “incompatible”, with Dadaist organic connection. An attempt at order using black and white tessellated text counterpoints the abhorrent human, child’s “body” broken by surfaces and strokes of colour. The text is arbitrary, so as a sign of communication with symbolic energy it is in opposition with its usual purpose of conveying the message. The painting is also a struggle of strong colouristic symbolism: a dialectical unity of red and black. With their colouristic domination, the red lines that we read vertically – the upper ones with sharp corners, the lower ones that are round – frame the fragments into an intimate-surreal whole and, at the same time, provide tectonics to the entire display. Their liveliness in the lower third part of the scene is calmed by the horizontal of the only unbroken black line.
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 National Museum of Modern Art's archives © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb