A Self-Portrait (with an Easel), 1958
oil on canvas
Ljubo Ivančić (1925-2003) is a classic of Croatia’s expressive Figurative and Abstract Art at the crossroads of Existentialist Aesthetics and Art Informel. (Self-)Portraits are a thematic constant of his oeuvre, which is imbued with the tragedy, absurdity and grotesqueness of life. He drew formative inspiration from Croatia’s Mediterranean modernists infused with matter and atmosphere (Emanuel Vidović, Marino Tartaglia, Juraj Plančić, Ignjat Job), and an existentialist charge by interweaving tradition and modernity (Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, Georges Rouault, Francis Bacon). His both achromatic and chromatic palette of colours was at first saturated, heavy and dark, which in the 1970s he brightened up and intensified until the mid-1990s. Elongated, disproportionate and deformed figures of allusive shapes immersed in an evocative ambience are typical features and methods of his portraiture. After having fought in WWII from 1942, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949 (Đuro Tiljak’s master class), where he taught (1961-1979) and led the Master Workshop (1975-1984). He became a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1991.
Thanks to having placed painterly motifs (a brush, a palette, an easel, a canvas, a line) into the painting and to having applied the painting-within-a-painting principle, Ljubo Ivančić’s A Self-Portrait (with an Easel) from 1958 represents a polarity between his existential angst and physical presence.
Text: Željko Marciuš, 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