Kupari Town, 1933
oil on canvas
55 × 73 cm
Petar Dobrović’s Kupari Town oil painting from 1933 is a paradigmatic painting not only of Dobrović’s mature creative power, but also of his pure joy of life. He painted his hedonistic vision of a Mediterranean landscape by layering paint thickly in an ecstasy of colour and vivacity.
Petar Dobrović was born in Pécs in Hungary, and graduated in painting in 1911 from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in Budapest. His beginnings were marked by Impressionism, but after he stayed in Paris between 1912 and 1914, he took on board the modern conceptions of Cubism, Cezannism and Expressionism. He participated in Hungary’s avant-garde movements, and was arrested in 1921 for his political activities in Pécs. He then moved to Belgrade, where he taught at the Royal Art School in Belgrade and exhibited regularly. Dobrović’s highly evolved Colourism started standing out in his first paintings from the Island of Hvar, i.e. as early as around 1925. After he returned from another trip to Paris and the French Riviera with Milan Konjović in 1926-27, Dobrović’s interest returned to Dalmatian landscapes and ever-expanding Colourism. Whilst in Belgrade, he also participated in the founding of the Form (Oblik in Croatian) Art Group, which advocated the autonomy of aesthetics in art and Modernism between 1926 and 1939. Dobrović published drawings, vignettes and art criticism in writer Miroslav Krleža’s magazine Danas (Today) in 1934. Committed to leftist ideas, he portrayed Krleža and the people gathering around Krleža’s magazine Danas assembled in his studio on his largest canvas called In the Editorial Office of the Danas Magazine. Being one of its founders (1937), Dobrović taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade, where one of the students he mentored in 1940-41 was Edo Murtić.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb