Hommage to Rembrandt, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and others are some of the works that René Miković dedicated to his greatest role models. This visual artist from Zagreb, inspired by Rembrandt and Flemish painting, went to study in the Netherlands in the mid-1970s, where he continued to live and create until his death in 1996. According to the author of the exhibition and catalogue, Mirna Rudan Lisak PhD, this artist left behind a relatively small yet exceptionally intriguing and powerful body of work, which is insufficiently known to both art professionals and the general public.
From 3 to 29 October, with the exhibition Hallucinatory Melancholies at the Josip Račić Gallery, the National Museum of Modern Art posthumously presents and valorises René Miković’s hitherto completely unexplored body of work. In addition to two oil paintings, Dead Bird and Doll from a Box (both dated to 1978 and in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art), the visual set-up, jointly curated by Mirna Rudan Lisak and the director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Branko Franceschi, will also showcase around thirty works owned by the artist’s friends Ivan Maruna, Darko Petrinjak, and Sanja Pilić.
A portion of René Miković’s body of work, known only through photographs and reproductions, will be presented through a video projection also curated by the exhibition’s author. The accompanying richly illustrated catalogue will be available in both Croatian and English, with the text by Mirna Rudan Lisak, PhD.
Translated by: Robertina Tomić

René Miković, a visual artist from Zagreb, who studied, lived, and worked in the Netherlands, seems to have been forgotten after his untimely death, only to be rediscovered more than a quarter of a century later. However, at this point when almost all topics have already been explored in countless ways, it is rare to find a work whose relevance stands the test of time, especially when such works are relatively obscure, unknown to both the general public and to professionals whose daily endeavours involve the study and assessment of Croatian art. It calls for an original insight and a unique interpretation, thus embodying the elusive ideal of contemporary researchers and institutions responsible for the protection and preservation of national cultural heritage. René Miković’s first solo exhibition at the Josip Račić Gallery, which posthumously presents his previously entirely unexplored body of work, becomes a lasting contribution to Croatian culture and art, and can serve as a starting point for future interpretations of Miković’s modest yet exceptionally fascinating and powerful oeuvre.

René Miković (Zagreb, 1954–Groningen, 1996) was a Croatian visual artist who studied, lived, and worked in the Netherlands. From 1970 to 1975, he attended the School of Applied Arts in Zagreb (Printmaking Department). In 1976, he went abroad and enrolled in the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London, United Kingdom. That same year, under the mentorship of Kurt Löb, he attended a Summer Painting Seminar at the International Academy of Fine Arts in Niederbipp, Switzerland. However, as he had been inspired by Rembrandt and Flemish painting from his earliest youth, he left London at the end of the year and went to his spiritual homeland, the Netherlands, where, from 1976 to 1979, under the guidance of Evert Musch, he completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts “Academie Minerva” in Groningen, the Netherlands. Subsequently, from 1979 to 1981, he pursued further studies under the mentorship of Professor Ko Sarneel in the postgraduate program at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, the Netherlands. He exhibited his works at Pictura (Groningen, 1979), Singermuseum (Laren, 1979), De Kolku (Assen, 1979), Galerie Dry Koningen (Amsterdam, 1979), and Galerie Lieve Hemel (Amsterdam, 1986). The uniqueness of Miković’s art arises from the trompe l'oeil painting technique he employs to create a world where illusion plays a significant role, ultimately achieving a hallucinatory optical effect on his canvases.

Mirna Rudan Lisak, PhD (Zagreb, 1972) is an advisor at the City Office for Culture of the City of Zagreb. After obtaining her degree at the Faculty of Architecture, she earned her doctorate at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb. She furthered her studies in Paris and Montpellier as a scholarship recipient of the Government of the French Republic, within the Courants du Monde program. She is the author of two books and chapters in a book (published by Matica hrvatska and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), as well as numerous essays in the field of culture and art (published in Forum, Vijenac, Riječi, Večernji list, and Telegram), some of which have been translated and published abroad. Her essay on the German philosopher Oswald Spengler was selected as a required text for essay writing in the 2023 National Matriculation in the Croatian language. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal for literature, culture, and science Riječi and is also an honorary member and chief editor of the Croatian Society “Aleksandar Skrjabin”. Her research work encompasses theory, philosophy, and all branches of art from the early modern period to the present day. When addressing selected issues within the scope of productive and reproductive artistic practice, she approaches them from a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective.

Reproductions: Dead Bird, oil on hardboard / 62 x 45 cm / MG-8082 1978 / Hommage à Jan van Eyck, 1981. / oil on wood, 110 x 75 cm/
Doll in a box , 1978. / oil on wood, 62 x 45 cm / MG- 8083 Doll, 1990 / oil on canvas, 55 x 70 cm / Sanja Pilić, 1974. / oil on canvas / 77 x 60 cm / Watch out! Might rain, take the umbrella, 1980./ oil on wood, 170 x 120 cm
Photo: Goran Vranić, and from private archives

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