Zoltan Novak, A Duel, 1998-2000

Zoltan Novak (1963)
A Duel, 1998-2000
oil on canvas
250 x 360cm

Zoltan Novak (1963) is one of the most famous Croatian painters of postmodern Narrative Figuration, which he develops in correlation and reference to reality, the visual arts, film and literature. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (mentored by Nikola Koydl and Zlatko Keser), and graduated in 1997 in the class of Zlatko Kauzlarić Atač. He has taught painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb since 2004. Since 1988, his painting has been influenced by Art Brut and Neo-Expressionism, and since the early 1990s by using the method of reductive Figuration he marked it with the paradigmatic sign of a Walker. Novak finalised his fully formed and depersonalised Walker in 1994 and started introducing it into all of his paintings, silhouettes, relief paintings, sign installations, targets and crosses. He shapes this sketch-like internal projection into a pictogram, a paraphrase of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and the symbol of man appearing in traffic lights. With his series of Nocturnal Paintings (2009), Novak restored figurative and realistic representation to his paradigmatic sign.
Novak’s monumental painting A Duel (1998-2000) transforms the dual nature of the Walker (both a victim and a bully at one and the same time) into a conflict between two equal and ruthless rivals. The patterned figures, and intense black and white contrasts indicate the brutality of the violent scene. Novak’s critical stance on violence is evident through the exaggerated format of the painting.
In the thirty years of his career as a painter, he exhibited at numerous solo exhibitions in Croatia and abroad (Rome, Paris, Munich, New York, Berlin), and in 2009 he was Croatia’s representative 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

Tekst: Željko Marciuš, muzejski savjetnik Nacionalnog muzeja moderne umjetnosti © Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb
Foto: Goran Vranić © Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb

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