At the Square, 1950s
oil on cardboard
34 x 40.5 cm
Ivo Dulčić (1916 – 1975) was an exceptional colourist and one of the best Croatian painters of modern religious themes. Up until the 1950s, he painted subdued intimist compositions, where he was interested in the epidermis of paintings. After the 1950s, he intensified and opened his colour palette, and used it to disperse the reality around us into the smudged fabric of his paintings. From 1955 he lived in both Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Dulčić’s Colouristic Structuralism is a derivative of Abstraction – Tachisme, but also his own personal measure by which he never exceeded the limits of figuration. In the third stage of his career, from 1959 onwards, he synthesised his knowledge which he then applied to religious imagery (frescos, mosaics, stained glass) in the Church of Our Lady of Health in Split (Christ the King fresco, 1959). He created religious art in churches in Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Sarajevo and Essen in Germany. He studied law in Belgrade and Zagreb, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb under Prof. Ljubo Babić between 1941 and 1946, when he was expelled from the academy for denying the aesthetics of Socialist Realism and its practices. Pierre Bonnard and Jean Édouard Vuilliard are also woven into Dulčić’s Colourism, although it is mostly his very own. Ljubo Babić instilled in him a bird’s-eye view, which Dulčić transformed into a divine perspective, as it were, common of his work, which helped him to present cities and their residents as if they were in the palm of his hand. In the 1950s, he started painting cities, streets, squares and sporting events in which people are represented as silhouettes. He gradually brightened his palette with a distinct Colourism of thick coats of pure colour and started dispersing objects into stains creating a vibrant atmosphere in his paintings. He neared Abstraction with some of his compositions that he rhythmised using stains characteristic of Tachisme, but always remained connected to the real world. Dulčić’s composition At the Square from the 1950s is a gem of a miniature, an impressionist veduta suggestive of the very essence of city life with its spotty parallelisms, staffage and square surfaces. It is a frozen movement, clamour, communication; the overall colouristic vividness of the study of people and the city.
Text: Željko Marciuš, museum counsellor© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023