Zlatko Kauzlarić Atač
oil on canvas
Zlatko Kauzlarić Atač (1945) is a socially engaged Croatian figurative painter who has been, according to art historian Zdenko Rus, confirming the thesis on the “permanence of the figurative” even during High Modernism which is averse to Figurative Art. He was a prominent member of the Biafra Art Group which was active in Zagreb between 1970 and 1978, and which stood against Abstract Art because it “deprives man of his central role in art”. In 1974 the group started organising exhibitions and actions on the streets. Since social engagement was characteristic of Atač’s painting, the themes he chose revolved around the hardships of reality. He dealt with the issues of humanism in modern society, bureaucracy, politics and culture. His expressive and powerful figuration and naturalist methods are typical of his work.
Depicting the motif of a homeless person, Zlatko Kauzlarić Atač’s Nameless painting from 1969 is an example of his fierce criticism of the social system. His transfer of photography to canvas is an original painterly technique, which creates the impression of greyness and photographic naturalism with the help of photo emulsion. His fabric inserts have their origins in Art Informel.
Since the 1970s, he has been designing stage sets and costumes at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and other theatres both in Croatia and abroad. As far as his painting is concerned, he later softened his style, started using refined, thickly applied coats of paint in his striking portraits, and in the 1980s he began drawing and painting eroticised female nudes, after which he turned to his own body and intimate world. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1968 under Prof. Miljenko Stančić, after which he worked as an associate at Krsto Hegedušić’s master workshop (1968-1974). He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where he became a full professor in 1996 and was its dean between 2002 and 2006. Since 1989, he has also been teaching design at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb. He has exhibited at many solo and group exhibitions in both Croatia and abroad, and has received numerous awards for his artistic and theatrical work.
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