Stjepan Gračan
(1941 – 2022)
Untitled XXXV (Two Figures), 1977 - 1978
polyester, paint
Figure 1: 174 x 66 x 60 cm
Figure 2: 172 x 69 x 67 cm

Stjepan Gračan obtained a degree in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1968 and completed his postgraduate studies in the same year. He specialized in monumental sculpture in A. Augustinčić’s Master Workshop from 1969 to 1971. He has been a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb since 1988.
He is one of the co-founders of the art group Biafra, which was active from 1970 to 1978. They organized exhibitions and actions in non-museum spaces and on the streets, advocating expressive and socially engaged figuration with naturalistic techniques and strong deformations. Remaining committed to radical figuration and a message aimed at human conscience and emotions, Gračan created more diverse works in the post-Biafra period, and within the context of destroyed lives, he also shaped animal figures.
At the beginning of his involvement with the Biafra group, he created a series of life-size burned figures. Then, using new materials such as polyester and paint, he created deformed clothed human shells, such as two figures striding forward with lowered hands and melted facial features, dressed in identical long garments, long trousers, and bulky shoes. These contrasting figures, one painted in white and the other in black, are intended to bombard the conscience and provoke spiritual unrest in individuals and larger society in the face of traumatized existential reality.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant 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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