Black Structure with Three Scratches, 1957
sand, burnt resin on canvas, 93 x 73 cm
Ivo Gattin (1926-1978) was the first and most consistent representative of Art Informel in Croatia. Radicalism and experimentation with non-painting materials (pigment, wax, sand, resin, wire) and creative processes (coating, burning, piercing, scratching, tearing, beating, decollage) were his character traits (I. Zidić) and are the key methods of his material and physical, abstract expression. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (1946-1951). At first, he created works in the spirit of Surrealism (a 1956 exhibition, Zagreb), from which – at the peak of Art Informel (1956-1963) – he developed formless matter with the help of controlled automatism and unpredictability. Gattin’s 1957 exhibition in Zagreb came as a shock and raised the following question: Is it actually art? Between 1963 and 1970 he lived in Milan and worked as an illustrator. He created drawings and prints by frottage (rubbing), burning and tearing. In 1967 he took a career break, and did not return to work until 1976. The key determinants of Gattin’s Art Informel are monochrome paintings and deviations from the rectangular format, which he transformed into amorphous objects that spread into space thanks to Gattin having penetrated their matter. Black Structure with Three Scratches from 1957 is a coarse black monochrome visual substrate that still respects the format, as well as the frame of the matter with three relief lines that emphasise the processuality of creation and the physical reality of the image. Semantically speaking, it is an existential reflection of anxiety in the midst of the Cold War. Gattin had solo exhibitions in Zagreb (1956, 1957, 1978), Venice (1959), Milan (1964) and Novara (1965). In 1992, Branka Stipančić curated a problem-based exhibition of Gattin’s work at the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb.
Text: Željko Marciuš, museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022