Branko Lepen, Letatlin, 1984

Branko Lepen
Letatlin, 1984
welding, iron
130 x 70 x 30 cm

Inspired by constructivism and minimalism, Branko Lepen utilizes geometrically abstract forms to explore the relationships between space and mass, as well as two-dimensional and three-dimensional aspects. The conceptual sculpture Letatlin is made of iron and consists of two objects placed on thin rectangular bases, from which multiple thin flat rods rise. At the top of these rods, objects in the shape of a cylinder with cross-shaped flat strips are horizontally positioned, filling its empty space.
In 1983, Croatian sculptor Branko Lepen (1957, Čakovac) graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Zagreb. From 1989 to 2015, he worked at the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, and since 2016, he has been working at the Kerempuh Theater. Lepen creates sculptures and reliefs using various materials such as iron, aluminum, and wood. In 1999, his sculpture Important Device won the award at the Triennial of Croatian Sculpture. He experimented with objects and installations that involve light and movement, drawing inspiration from his work on stage designs and incorporating postmodernist references from art history, such as neon light used by Dan Flavin. Later, he returned to associative and linear forms in a series called Loops (2015- 2017), nearing the conceptual approach. He has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Zagreb, Rijeka, Čakovec, Rovinj, and Split, and participated in exhibitions of Croatian contemporary art in Brighton (1990), Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aires (1997). His sculptures can be found in public spaces, such as the sculpture Big Spider from 1987 in the Sports Park Mladost in Zagreb. He has also created stage set, including the one for the performance of Jenufa at the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb in 2012.

Text: Lorena Šimić, trainee curator of the National Museum of Modern Art
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Marijana Muljević, The Red Corridor, 1984

Marijana Muljević
The Red Corridor, 1984
oil on canvas
140 x 120 cm
MG- 4276

Marijana Muljević’s painting The Red Corridor from 1984 is an example of the artist’s recognisable style. The concept of her paintings is based on a refined selection of motifs that overlap and are juxtaposed with distinct and pure architectural elements, moving away from mere reproduction and imitation of reality, thereby creating a surreal atmosphere. The Red Corridor exudes a mystical atmosphere achieved by the contrast of red doors and the floor of the corridor realised with a slanted perspective and cool and mysterious background walls.
Marijana Muljević was born in 1948 in Zagreb. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1971, in the class of N. Reiser. After having distinguished herself as a collaborator in K. Hegedušić’s and Lj. Ivančić’s Master Workshop in the period from 1973 to 1977, she continued her career as a freelance artist. She staged her first solo exhibition in 1975 in the Gallery of the Nikola Tesla Factory in Zagreb, in 1978 she won the Grand Prix at the 13th Zagreb Salon, and she participated in many group exhibitions. She uses the photographic image as a template and paints in the manner of New Figuration and Hyperrealism, and by employing the method of decomposition and montage she achieves a multi-layered artistic expression (Blue Painting, 1980). In her later works, she paints architectural structures in which the metaphysical prevails over the mundane (House, 1998; Dimensions of Space, 2000–2001).

Text: Lorena Šimić, trainee curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

Ante Rašić, Awakening, 1984

Ante Rašić
Awakening, 1984
sheet metal, wire

Ante Rašić graduated in painting in 1977 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (under Professor Nikola Reiser). He worked as an associate at Ljubo Ivančić’s Master Workshop in Zagreb (1977-1978) and at Michel Charpentier’s sculpture studio in Paris (1978-1979). He is one of the founding members of the first Permanent Collective of Freelance Artists called ArTresor (1986) and co-founder of Oris, a magazine for architecture and culture of living (1998). He was the prestigious Rašić Design Studio’s longstanding Creative Director, where he did graphic, industrial and spatial design. He has been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb since 1995.

Rašić created a wide oeuvre of Primary, Procedural and Conceptual Art using unconventional sculpture methods and techniques featuring original interpretations. His early works are close to the ideas of Arte Povera, Op and Kinetic Art, while his later works include constructivist pieces and ambient installations of dynamic rhythms and associations, all imbued with existentialist reflections.

Ante Rašić’s Awakening sculpture from 1984 is made up of several coarse and roughly cut geometric elements, whose distinctive shapes are assembled roughly. At one end of the Awakening’s base – which is shaped like an arrowhead or signpost cut irregularly from sheet metal – a rectangle representing concentrated weight is positioned. Acting as a counterweight at the other end of the base, an upright flagpole rises high with a swaying flag on top.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Stanko Vrtarić © Stanko Vrtarić

Kamilo Tompa, An Audience, 1984

Kamilo Tompa
An Audience, 1984
ink on paper

Kamilo Tompa (1903-1989) is probably the greatest chronicler of social and cultural life amongst Croatia’s artists. Hundreds of his drawings depict theatre or concert audiences, actors in action, museum exhibitions, funerals of colleagues, concerts, musicians, lectures and the like, most of which relate to Zagreb’s cultural life of the second half of the 20th century. Tompa’s An Audience drawing from 1984 features not only the peculiarity of Tompa’s style, but also the poetics of his work, wherein his motivation should be sought. For instance, given that Tompa drew his figures without character, given that he seems only to have wanted to record their presence in time and space, a comparison could be drawn between Tompa’s entire drawing oeuvre and the literary form of diary. The value of any diary does not lie in extraordinary events, but in the very discipline of recording ordinary experiences, the mere passage of time. It is difficult to count the number of people in this drawing; had he not drawn some men with beards and some women with long hair, the gender of his figures would be unidentifiable; nevertheless, what is evident is that yet another theatre or concert performance took place, a performance attended by Tompa himself as well. In other words, with this drawing, he seems to have wanted to say the following: “There was a show (concert, public lecture) and I was there.” And that (to him) is quite enough.

Kamilo Tompa graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1928 in the class of Prof. Ljubo Babić and Prof. Vladimir Becić. He also studied art history in Paris. He was a professor at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb and Head of the Department of Set Design at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. Tompa was initially, particularly in his drawings, close to the social agenda of the Earth Association of Artists, after which he balanced, in terms of style, between figuration and abstraction.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, 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

Ferdinand Kulmer, Pegasus’s Garden, 1984

Ferdinand Kulmer
Pegasus’s Garden, 1984
acrylic on canvas
195×390 cm

Ferdinand Kulmer (1925-1998) was a modernist and postmodernist painter who changed styles at Mercury’s speed of travel. He is a descendant of the noble Kulmer family – Styrian barons who moved to Croatia in the 18th century. From amongst his relatives, lawyer and politician Franjo Kulmer (19th century) was the most influential. Art historian and critic Tonko Maroević drew a comparison that pinpoints the very essence of Kulmer’s life – more specifically, Picasso first painted and then bought castles, while with Ferdinand Kulmer it was the other way around. He studied painting during WWII and in the post-war period: in Budapest from 1942 and in Zagreb until 1948 (under Prof. Ljubo Babić and Prof. Omer Mujadžić), and worked as an associate at Krsto Hegedušić’s Master Workshop until 1957. During the course of his three-decade long career as an artist, the range of styles that he painted in is impressive, with the styles always up-to-date and fused into a hybrid of sorts – from (post)fauvist Figurative Art and Picasso, Abstract Art (from 1957), Art Informel, Tachisme, monochrome painting with elements of Action Painting and calligraphy, to postmodern New Figuration in the 1980s. In the 1960s, he was close to gestural Art Informel in the vein of Heinrich Hartung and Pierre Soulages, and in the 1970s to Japanese calligraphy.

Ferdinand Kulmer’s Pegasus’s Garden from 1984 presents him as an author who, according to art historian Igor Zidić, “ascended from this earthly realm with winged shoes, ignoring reality, causality”. Kulmer created a phantasmagorical scene of surreal and mythical beauty on a yellow background. The painting’s mystical bestiary features winged Pegasus – the bearer of lightning bolts – in the garden of the muses, with eyes like those of a nocturnal mammal, covering almost half of this dynamic composition. The mysterious hybrid creatures in the swirling garden reflect the energies of myth and dream, the unconscious forces of night, indicating the extent to which we, as both human and animal species, are unconsciously determined by the same energies and forces.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum advisor 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

Antun Motika, Medal Set / Female Cyclist, 1984






1902 – 1992


Medal Set / The Female Cyclist



d=72.8 mm



Antun Motika studied sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts (R. Valdec), but later switched to study painting (M. Vanka, V. Becić, Lj. Babić) and graduated in 1926. He attended two post-graduate semesters in the class of Lj. Babić (1926 – 1927). From 1929 – 1931, he drew caricatures for the Zagreb satirical magazine Koprive. From 1929 – 1940, he lived and worked in Mostar as a professor of drawing. In 1930 and 1935, he received scholarships to study in Paris. He staged his first solo exhibitions in Zagreb in 1933 and 1935. In 1940, he was transferred to Zagreb, where he worked at the School of Applied Arts until his retirement in 1961.

His exhibition Archaic Surrealism (1952) was of particular cultural significance, having provoked tumultuous reactions among Croatian critics, and is generally considered as the boldest rejection of the dogmatic frameworks of Socialist Realism. Motika expressed an autonomous artistic practice by creating the preconditions for a new formal syntax, which is going to come to the fore in his drawings, projects and experiments, collages, paintings and sculptures.

He transferred motifs from numerous studies and drawings to bronze medals. A series of 25 medal works that is kept in the National Museum of Modern Art, confirms the uniqueness of this self-effacing, versatile and exclusive Croatian artist whose dream visions were transformed into a fantastical world of associative figuration. On the medal The Female Cyclist, he builds a dynamic scene in a deformed perspective using intersecting surfaces and visual fragments of a woman with recognisable attributes and two wheels.


Text Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb





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