Marijan Jevšovar
(1922 – 1988)
Black with White, 1961
oil on canvas
73 x 93 cm

Of all the Gorgona group members (1959 – 1966), which he also co-founded, Marijan Jevšovar (1922 – 1988) came closest to the reductionist version of Art Informel. Spiritual kinship, monotony, absurdity and Gorgonian intellectual climate of creation are sort of equivalents of his painting. The image is a spiritual, mental, material, sensory (tactile) and anti-illusionist fact. M. Jevšovar’s anti-painting was realised on different principles than J. Knifer’s non-expressive expression. It is the negation of form and of the final result – the image – by emphasising the process and procedure of painting brought to a state of degradation. “My painting is a negation of form, dirtying the white surface of the canvas” (M. Jevšovar), which is a synonym for disgust, contamination and desecration of painting.

After he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1946, and after having attended M. Tartaglia’s special painting course, he spent two years in Paris (1954 – 1956), where J. Dubuffet made a strong impression on him. He initially paints landscapes, still lifes, figurative works and self-portraits, and in the early 1960s, under the influence of M. Tartaglia and L. Junek, he finally executes a painting as a total monochrome surface. With achromatic black, white and grey, he creates a self-sufficient surface freed from meaning and aesthetics, reaching “nothing-art, ground zero of Croatian abstract painting” (I. Zidić). After 1971, he expands his colour register, preserving the adopted expression.

The Black with White painting from 1960 is dual. The artist does not contrast black and white, but connects them by adding contrast. Because his creative process was lengthy, he left behind a relatively small body of work. He also worked as a graphic designer. In 1995, he was the recipient of the City of Zagreb Award.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022


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