Ilički Square, 1921
oil on canvas
100 x 105 cm
Marijan Trepše’s vision of Ilički (today, British) Square in Zagreb suggests uncertainty as a fundamental determinant of contemporary life. The sliding frame without a solid support is dominated by elongated lines rendered in a specific green-ochre colourway and sharp contrasts of supernatural lighting. The square and the streets around it, the buildings, trees and people are arranged like theatre sets and marionettes, so the whole scene appears artificial and keeps us in a constant state of suspense.
Marijan Trepše (1897 – 1964) obtained a degree in painting in Zagreb in 1918. During his subsequent training in Prague, he attended Professor Max Švabinský’s advanced painting and printmaking course. After the war, he was admired among his Prague colleagues for being their closest link to Kraljević’s modern ideas. With Uzelac, Gecan and Varlaj, he formed the informal ‘Group of Four’, and they adopted the novel Cézannesque expressionist artistic concepts thus initiating the new and most important phase of the Spring Salon in 1919. During his training in Paris from 1920 to 1922, Trepše neared the classicist expression of André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. Later on, he painted using emphatically brighter colours and less constrained faktura. In addition to his substantial printmaking oeuvre, illustrations, caricatures and book covers, Trepše also created stained glass windows. As a set designer in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb from 1925 to 1957, he created as many as 129 stage designs.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023