Vlado Martek, More, Some, Enough, 1990

Vlado Martek
More, Some, Enough, 1990
mixed media (pencil, tempera, glass, paper)

Martek burst onto the art scene as a poet and member of the “Group of Six Artists”, an informal group of friends from Zagreb whose work in the 1970s was characterized by Conceptual art. Dissatisfied with the communicative potentials of poetry, Martek turned to visual research in 1969: he wrote poems on large paper formats; he created the so-called poetic objects made of books, nails, clay, mirrors, graphite pencils, etc. on which he wrote short texts; he created a series of text-drawings that he called liromape (lyrical folios). After the Group of Six Artists disbanded, Martek’s research drew increasingly closer to traditional poetry, on the one hand, and traditional genres of drawing and painting, on the other. By his own admission, he turned to paintings – drawings, collages, acrylics on paper, but also photographs – when the pressure of emotional experience was too large to ignore, and when he thought that, unlike words, images were easier to communicate to people. So, from 1975 to 2005, he created hundreds of drawings that he called pictograms. “I created about twenty personal symbols, motifs. (…) The letter B, for example, was an embryo, not because it is graphically similar, but because for me, it is in second place in order of importance. The first place is occupied by the house, the basic element, the archetype of security”, says Martek. The quality of the pictogram is that it stands half-way between a word and a picture, which characterises this drawing as well. In it, all motifs are reduced to signs. The picture is drawn with a large brush and it is obvious it was created quickly; there is no finishing, no mistake; everything that the artist was preoccupied with in that moment had to be concretised in the drawing as soon as possible, and in its current form – a pictogram, rebus, icon? – it calls to dialogue. My drawings “are eloquent, and at the same time, they are not (…) I like it best when they are experienced as poetry that has been drawn”, says Martek.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, 2022

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