A Flood, 1932
oil on canvas
Krsto Hegedušić’s painting A Flood from 1932 represents a synthesis of the programme of the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists, which Krsto Hegedušić was the initiator and secretary of. In a naturalistically rough manner, the soul-stirring scene depicts hard life in Podravina’s countryside. Having drawn not only on Croatia’s native folk art heritage, but also on Pieter Brueghel the Elder and George Grosz, Hegedušić painted the scene as simply as possible bringing only the most essential details. Drawn clearly, the composition is built flatly using locally inspired colours. The figures are divested of the illusion of perspective and volume. The central scene is accompanied by three independent scenes, which are arranged further away from the foreground like in a comic strip. Besides a high horizon, figures accustomed to hardship are the other feature that typifies Hegedušić’s painting in the vein of the Zemlja group of artists. They are fully typified, with their proportions symbolically exaggerated to the point of being grotesque. Hegedušić’s native landscape is identified by the severity of the natural disaster, a recognisable motif of a late winter landscape in the surroundings of the Hlebine area and the muddy river flooding the plain. Hegedušić’s A Flood expresses paradigmatically his critical agenda and subversive action, while writer Miroslav Krleža singled this painting out as an explicit example of Hegedušić’s individuality, talent and imagination.
Although his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb – where he was mentored by Tomislav Krizman, Vladimir Becić, Jozo Kljaković, Edo Kovačević and Ljubo Babić – and the ongoing course of Croatia’s Modernism in art had little effect on Krsto Hegedušić, his originality and determination in the 1930s birthed a new paradigm of form and motif, facilitating the emergence of Croatian Naive Art. In 1937, he started teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Besides painting, he also did drawings, graphics, frescoes, book illustrations, and theatre stage and costume design. He died in 1975.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb