Milena Lah
Moon, Moonlight, Seagulls I. - IV., 1970.
tempera, paper
65 x 52 cm
MG-8520, MG-8521, MG-8522, MG-8523

In the sculpture of Milena Lah (1920 - 2003), the seagull motif represents both the formal and sub-stantive dividing line. After having graduated from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts in 1949, this sculptress spent the first 15 years working within the boundaries of realistic sculpture, only to de-vote herself more decisively to formal experiments in the first half of the 1960s. Under the influ-ence of Henry Moore, Lah freed herself from imitating reality, and as early as the late 1960s, she created sculptures with forms composed exclusively of dynamic and rhythmic alternations of con-cave and convex shapes (Flight of the Seagull, 1969, Seagull, 1968). This alternation of the concave and the convex can also be seen in paintings that Lah executed at the same time. Although she abandoned Realism on the formal level, Lah kept the connection between her sculptures and the natural and cultural phenomena on a symbolic level – through the titles of her works and exhibi-tions. Early on in her career, it was first the ethnic heritage of the Istrian peninsula (local legends) or the medieval heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bogomils, standing tombstones), while her focus shifted to natural phenomena (seagulls, the moon) during the 1960s, and eventually to motifs that try to combine mythology and science fiction. The paintings on view here belong to the period of the sculptress’ activity in which she, still fascinated by everyday life – flight of the seagull, moonlit night – tries to breathe new life into old sensations. She largely succeeds in this, creating a wavy composition wherein she brings the black, white, gold and different shades of blue into an unusual relationship. Milena Lah’s art is also characterised by working outdoors, in a natural environment. She participated in two dozen sculptural symposia in Croatia and abroad, so it is not surprising that her sculptures can be found in many public spaces in Croatia and abroad.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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