Still Life (with Black Radishes), 1939
oil on canvas
59 x 72,3 cm
This Still Life is one of Stupica’s early works, executed shortly after he graduated from the academy. He has used the motif of still life primarily for exercises in composition and harmonisation of proportions, which he shaped with refined brushstrokes and an additionally emphasised achromatic contrast. In his oeuvre, there is a clear discrepancy between the number of themes he painted and the number of painting techniques he used as a means of expression. During his career, he painted just a handful of themes: from landscapes at a young age, through still life scenes during student days, to figures and portraits in the manner of “Old Spanish Masters”. He painted on paper and canvas with watercolour, gouache, tempera, oil. He applied sand on the surface of the painting, added various materials, from fabric to paper; he made incisions into the freshly applied pigment. In other words: he conducted a personal painterly experiment which lasted until his very last painting.
Gabrijel Stupica (1913-1990) was born in Dražgoše, Slovenia. In 1931, he enrolled to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He studied drawing with Profs. Jozo Kljaković and Omer Mujadžić for two years, and painting in the class of Prof. Ljubo Babić for three years. In 1936, he graduated from the Academy and spent the next 10 years working and living in Zagreb, until 1946 when he became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. Early on in his career, he painted portraits modelled after the old Spanish and Dutch painters, while later on during his career he developed his style and painted expressive and stylised characters of women and children in a magical setting. In 1952 and 1958, he showed his work at the Venice Biennale, and in 1959 he exhibited at Documenta in Kassel. He showcased his work in the USA for three consecutive years from 1959 to 1962, as part of the exhibition New Painting from Yugoslavia. He participated at the Biennale in Sao Paulo in 1965 and 1983, and his last exhibition at representative world events was at the Paris Biennale in 1985. Since 1983, he has been a full member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Text: Zlatko Tot, trainee curator © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb