Milivoj Uzelac
Self-Portrait in front of a Bar, 1923
oil on canvas
93 x 69 cm

With the painting Self-Portrait in front of a Bar Milivoj Uzelac goes a step beyond mimeticism. He arranges the fragments of the metropolitan nightmare like a collage, while the contemporary chaos is emphasised with an oversaturated scene without a unified composition.
The scene is expressionistically engaged and provocative. Despite the artist’s fascination with Paris, this Self-Portrait expresses both an individual and general anxiety of the contemporary moment. The ‘collaging’ of fragments, that is, the new treatment of space and volume connects Uzelac with George Grosz and contemporary German Dadaism, but also with the circle around Micić’s avant-garde magazine Zenit, in which at that very moment Josip Seissel (Jo Klek) was creating his first collages and photo montages.
Uzelac was educated in Banja Luka, Zagreb and Prague. Although he permanently moved to France in 1923, where his later paintings are characterized by a ‘return to order’ and an eternal search for harmony and balance, Uzelac has had a lasting and significant influence on the Croatian art scene. He regularly exhibited in his homeland and maintained close contacts with his colleagues, particularly Vilko Gecan, with whom he was very close both privately and professionally from a young age.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022.
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022.

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