Matko Vekić, A Bridge, 1999

Matko Vekić
A Bridge, 1999
oil on canvas
195×200 cm

Matko Vekić (1970) is one of the most well-established and engaged Croatian painters of his generation. His painting mixes modernist stylisation and critique of society with a postmodernist reductionist narrative whose signs always point to something other than the visible. Vekić’s motifs resist superficial emblems and ornaments which, paraphrasing Adolf Loos, he considers a ‘crime’. He graduated in painting in the class of Đuro Seder in 1995 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where he has been teaching since 2011. With the help of the concrete-abstract, figurative-nonfigurative, organic-inorganic polarities, each of Vekić’s painting series is a well-thought-out painterly manifesto, artistic worldview and visual programme of signs pointing to a contemporary focus (Animal Circle – Zodiac, 2005; Symbol, Ornament, Sign and Crime, 2009; The Cruelty of the Circle, 2010; Orienta(lisa)tion, 2016). Comprising concrete and metal junctions, bridges and overpasses, Vekić’s early urban iconography renders the contemporary urban fabric of the city as a place of blocking dystopia.
Vekić’s painting A Bridge (1999) expresses his cold, analytical and distant gaze. With the help of a polarity – an intense view of the sky and a smallish organic arabesque of tree rings – Vekić draws a contrast between faceless figuration and an indirect “trace of nature”.
In his 20+ years of career as an artist, he has had over 40 solo exhibitions. He represented Croatia in 2006 and 2010 at the Cairo International Biennale, and in 2009 at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

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

Milivoj Uzelac, A Bridge, 1916 / 1917

Milivoj Uzelac
A Bridge, 1916 / 1917
oil on cardboard
48.5 x 39.5 cm

A Bridge from 1916/17 is one of Uzelac’s earliest paintings but also his most unusual and most compact. His presentation at the Spring Salon in 1917 foreshadowed new tendencies and the imminent rise of modernism that will be a significant characteristic of the informal group of the ‘Prague Four’ and the Salon period from 1919 to 1921. Following in the footsteps of Kraljević and the Cézannesque teachings of his Prague teacher Jan Preisler, Milivoj Uzelac constructs the scenes of a new reality characterized by strong expressivity, general anxiety and suggestive light contrasts.

Milivoj Uzelac (Mostar, 1897 – Cotignac, 1977) was educated in Banja Luka, Zagreb and Prague. Although he permanently moved to France in 1923, Uzelac’s new versions of Cézanneism, Expressionism and finally Lhote’s academic Cubism had a particularly decisive influence on the new generation of Croatian painters between the two wars. He had regular exhibitions in his homeland and maintained close contacts with his colleagues, particularly Vilko Gecan, with whom he was very close both privately and professionally since young age.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, Senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern art, Zagreb, 2022

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