Motif from Sremska Mitrovica, 1934
tempera on glass
36 x 52 cm
Željko Hegedušić created Motif from Sremska Mitrovica while he was working in the local grammar school. Although he has regularly exhibited, as a guest artist, with the Earth Association of Artists, the founding of which was initiated by his older brother Krsto, Željko did not share the Earth Group’s commitment to realistic description. The focal point of the composition is a group of prisoners walking through the city in the company of guards. The motif of the “prisoner parade” stems from the interest of the Earth Group members in people and scenes that are on the margins of society, which the artist therefore paints with simplified flat forms of colour. The scene is set in the ambience of the urban periphery, which appears, with its emphasised drawing and flat execution, like a theatre stage, whereby Hegedušić highlights emptiness, that is, the “metaphorical desolation” (op. cit. Bužančić) in the foreground.
After having graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Hegedušić trained in Paris where he came into contact with Purism and metaphysical-surrealist painting. From the 1950s onwards, he engages in printmaking and often combines painting techniques as well as surrealist, ludic motifs in a wide range of experiences from the tragic to the lyrical. Besides the broadly understood basic conceptual and ideological tenets of the Earth Association of Artists, Željko Hegedušić strives for a surrealist expression inspired by the totality of European modernist heritage. He worked as a teacher at the grammar schools in Zagreb and Srijemska Mitrovica, and at the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb. In his career, he created wall paintings, frescoes, applied graphic art, he designed and illustrated books.
Text: Zlatko Tot, curator intern © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022