oil on canvas
Ivo Dulčić (1916-1975) was an exceptional colourist and one of the best Croatian painters of modern sacral motifs. 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 palette of colours, with whose help he disperses the reality surrounding 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, to be exact – but also his own personal measure by which he never exceeded the limits of figuration. In the third stage of his career (i.e., from 1959 onwards), he synthesised his knowledge which he then applied to sacral art (frescos, mosaics, stained glass) in the Church of Our Lady of Health in Split (Christ the King fresco, 1959). He created sacral 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 Dance composition from 1956 is a great example of such marginal figuration, which is – thanks to patchy comparisons and colours – suggestive of the very essence of dance, i.e. movement.
Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant 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