oil on hardboard
130 x 200 cm
Ljubo Ivančić (1925 – 2003) is a doyen of Croatian expressive material figurative and abstract art at the intersection of existential painting and Art Informel. (Self)portraits and nudes are a thematic constant in his oeuvre. Ivančić’s painting is imbued with tragedy, absurdity and the grotesqueness of life. He draws his formative stimuli from the works of Croatian Mediterranean modernists imbued with matter and atmosphere (E. Vidović, M. Tartaglia, J. Plančić, I. Job), while he conveys an existential burden by intertwining tradition and modernity (Rembrandt, F. Goya, G. Rouault, F. Bacon). The artist’s achromatic and chromatic colour register has at first passed through a saturated, materially-dark filter that will be brightened in the 1970s and the colour will continue to intensify until the mid-1990s. Ivančić’s method of depicting disproportionately elongated and deformed characters, with allusive shapes, but also an atmosphere of evocative scenes, is another characteristic feature. After having participated in the National Liberation Struggle since 1942, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949 (advanced course – Đ. Tiljak), where he also worked as a professor (1961 – 1979) and led the Master’s Workshop (1975 – 1984). He became a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1991. The Figure from 1969, belongs to the recognisable enactment of Ivančić’s nudes. It reflects the polarity between the naturalistic existence of the female being represented by the translucent volume of the body – determined mainly by the contour – and the mostly achromatic material background permeated with sporadic emanations and ultimate absorption. Ivančić’s nudes are not beautiful. They are honest. They represent an epitome of existential nudity.
Text: Željko Marciuš, museum counsellor of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023.
Translated by: Robertina Tomić