An Ascetic, 1963
metal / embossing (relief)
80 x 164
Zagreb student Ivan Lesiak (1929 – 2008) is particularly known for his figurative reliefs in metal, made in the spirit of poetic Symbolism, Surrealism and fantasy and a direct and coarse expressive style. A significant moment in his artistic biography is his membership in the Biafra Group (1970 – 1978), which problematised the issues of contemporary humanism in its cultural and social context, but also the relationship with contemporary visual art trends, especially Abstract art, advocating engagement and expressive figuration marked by naturalism and distortions. The group’s usual strategy was to organise exhibitions and actions in the streets and public spaces in Croatia and abroad. Lesiak’s drawings and print sheets, critically intoned towards the consumer society and contemporary civilisation, are executed in keeping with this strategy.
Lesiak’s An Ascetic from 1963, created in the period preceding Biafra, is an example of the refined minimalism of the artist’s poetic Symbolism. With carefully selected artistic means and a refined and emphatically symmetrical, static composition, Lesiak conveys a powerful allegory of an upright ascetic male figure, a protagonist in a destitute, contemplative environment.
Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb