Božidar Rašica (1912-1992)
Lapad, Houses, 1934-1936
oil on canvas, 65.5×52 cm
Božidar Rašica’s Lapad, Houses painting captivates with its vivacious colourist expression. His choice of bright, pure colours and use of energetic, broad and free brushstrokes is what connects young Rašica not only with his Dubrovnik-born peers and colleagues Ivan Ettore and Gabro Rajčević, but also with Croatia’s greatest colour expressionists, such as Ignjat Job.
Božidar Rašica studied architecture in Rome, Belgrade, Warsaw and Zagreb. After he graduated in 1942, he became one of the key creators of Croatia’s post-war modernist architecture featuring high standards in urban design (e.g., the Jadran Film pavilion, the Exportdrvo residential building from the 1950s on Zagreb’s City of Vukovar Street, etc.). He was also active as a painter and stage designer. He began painting in his youth alongside his uncle Marko Rašica, a ‘master of Dubrovnik-based colours’ of the first half of the 20th century. With the course of time, Rašica’s initial palette of glowing colours changed into calming hues. He moved to Zagreb in 1940 when he started nearing Poetic Realism, after which he turned to two-dimensionality and cubist analyses of volume. His compressing form into abstraction culminated in EXAT 51, an avant-garde group of painters and architects that Rašica co-founded together with established artists Ivan Picelj, Aleksandar Srnec, Vlado Kristl, and architect and designer Bernardo Bernardi. In the 1970s, Rašica returned to figurative motifs of intimist moods and powerful colours. In 1952 he got preoccupied with stage designs, many of which unified the stage and the audience with the help of movable stage elements. He taught in Zagreb at the Academy of Applied Arts, the Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Faculty of Architecture.
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