pencil, charcoal, felt-tip pen, collage, paper
199 x 144 cm
Zlatko Keser (1942) belongs to the second generation of Croatian abstract painters. He graduated in 1967 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and briefly pursued a kind of postgraduate education through collaboration with Krsto Hegedušić. Keser’s individual artistic path begins in the late 1960s, at a time when abstract painting, whether in its expressive or geometric forms, takes a back seat, giving way to innovation in conceptual art and its new mediums: performance, happening, video, art installation, etc. Although closer in generation to artists of the conceptual orientation, Keser turned to post-war painting, and in his work, we can recognize influences of Art Informel, Art Brut, and Abstract Expressionism. In this tradition, both American and European, Keser sought only those stimuli that allowed him to be spontaneous and free. While spontaneity can be recognized in the morphology of each of his paintings or drawings – lines and colours being nothing more than the function of an energetic gesture – Keser’s freedom is most easily recognizable in his solitary position within the historical development of Croatian art. It is difficult to associate him with the first generation of abstract painters (Edo Murtić, Oton Gliha, Šime Perić, and others) because Keser denies the compositional harmony of the painting. For him, it seems that only the process of painting exists, and the actual painting is of secondary importance. On the other hand, it is difficult to connect him with the abstract painters of his generation (Nikola Koydl, Ivo Friščić, and others) because they depart from the legacy of expressionistic abstraction and align themselves with the spirit of the time embodied in Pop Art. However, Keser is not only solitary; he is also a wild painter, and as such, he is a strange but homologous companion to the rebellious culture of the 1960s.
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